Mo. Lawmakers Hears Mixed Feelings on Teacher Tenure

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri lawmakers heard from the public about feelings on teacher tenure throughout the state Tuesday.

The hearing came about because many school districts throughout Missouri remain unaccredited.

Several schools are under expected performance standards, and an audit of St. Louis public schools stirred up concern over teacher's obligations to their students.

Current standards for teacher tenure requires teachers to complete a five-year period before they can be tenured. 

Discussion revolved around several subjects, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had their own thoughts on who to blame.

Some said the problem stems from teachers not doing their jobs well, while others pointed fingers at administrators for allowing their teachers to continue teaching, and the districts failing to handle the problems. 

"I do not believe in teacher tenure," Senator Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, told those at the commitee. "When teachers are passing students to the next grade when they know they can't read, those teachers should be fired." 

Mike Wood represented the Missouri School Board Association at the hearing, and said the MSBA is concerned over the impacts of teacher tenure.

"We want multi-year contracts to replace teacher tenure," Wood said.

Mark Van Zandt, the general counsel for the Department of Elemntary and Secondary Elementary, defended teach tenure and said Missouri teachers already have to go through five years before achieving tenure. 

The hearing Tuesday was the second of out four hearings. The last hearing is scheduled for Oct. 1.