Education reform

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COLUMBIA - A Kansas City judge ruled Tuesday that a proposed constitutional amendment should be on November's ballot. 

Constitutional Amendment 3, the so-called Missouri Teacher Performance Evaluation, would link teachers' pay to the performance of their students. If passed, Missouri schools would adopt teacher evaluation systems. The state would use as a base to decide teachers' pay and whether or nor to keep certain teachers employed. Opponents of the amendment say this would dissuade teachers from going to low income areas, where test scores may not be as high. 

The amendment would require the system to be based on student improvement between different tests. 

The National Education Association warns judging teachers on student tests scores would only judge "a narrow piece of the teacher's work."

The amendment would also change teacher tenure, a process which currently requires school districts to offer teachers who have an experience of more than five years in that district, indefinite contracts. Some say the indefinite contracts allow bad teachers to keep their jobs, hurting Missouri's education system.

Missouri has the longest timeframe of any state before tenure goes into effect, with a waiting time of five years. 

Currently, in those first five years, school districts give teachers one year contracts, allowing the districts to evaluate new teachers and decide after each year whether they should keep their jobs. 

Under the amendment, teacher tenure would be abolished, and teachers could not have any contract which would last more than three years. It would be between the district and the teacher to decide how long the contract would be. 

The amendment would not impact those who already have tenure, but would create a change for those who have not yet reached the five years currently required. 

The amendment is an initiated constitutional amendment which means Missouri residents, not Missouri Lawmakers, put the amendment on the ballot by getting enough signatures. 

Some say big money put the amendment on the ballot. Billionaire Rex Sinquefield donated $750,000 to the cause last December and is a big supporter. Sinquefield is currently president of the free market think tank Show-Me Institute. 

Barring more legal action, the amendment will appear on the November ballot.