Smart Decision 2014: What Amendment 3 would mean for Mo. schools

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COLUMBIA - Amendment Three, which is on the ballot this November, could mean a big change for schools and teachers. 

The amendment calls for teachers to be evaluated based off of their students standardized tests scores. If it passes, schools would not be allowed to sign teachers into contracts exceeding three years.

The amendment states any schools receiving state funding or local tax revenue must develop a standards based evaluation test approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The test must contain objective material for students and produce quantifiable student performance data. The data would be used to dismiss or promote teachers; modify or terminate contracts; and place employees on administrative leave if there is a decrease in enrollment, district reorganization, or financial strains on the school. 

One section states that schools may no longer enter into contracts that would exceed three years, which would affect teacher tenure in the state. Currently for teachers to receive tenure they must work for five full years.

If passed, the amendment will become a part of the Missouri constitution.

'It's a way of changing our constitution and it's permanent, so it would take another vote of the people before you could change it," said Susan McClintic, President of Columbia Missouri National Education Association. "That should be one thing that should make people really take a moment and pause and think if this is something that they really want to do or not because the constitution amendment changes the constitution for our state." (See the full interview in the video tab above and to the left)

Opponents of the measure say it could financially cripple some school districts.

"I have seen estimates as high as a billion dollars for a new testing assessment," said Sarah Reed, Outreach Director for The Campaign for Protecting Our Schools. 

The amendment was originally supported by one main group, Teach Great, and several wealthy donors. Teach Great supported the amendment and helped get signatures for it to be on the November ballot earlier this year. The group had financial support from billionaire Rex Sinquefeild to promote the amendment.

In early September though, Teach Great and its financial contributors pulled their support for the amendment when they saw it was not polling well. A spokeswoman for Teach Great declined to comment to KOMU 8 News.

McClintic said, "Teach Great released and said that their polling showed that they were not going to get it passed, so they decided they weren't going to spend anymore money on it. You'll see that there are some other people who were involved in it that have changed some of their PAC names, their political action committees and their different groups and they're just looking at it in a different way, they're kind of using it as a test case."

Many school administration, principal, and district groups have opposed the amendment. Some opponents say the amendment will take focus away from the students and skill building while putting a strain on the schools financially. 

Todd Fuller, Public Relations Manager for the Missouri Student Teacher's Association, said, "The majority of the monies is coming from a local community, so the reality of additional testing and finding funding for something like that, that a school district wasn't budgeting for or planning for, for some school districts that could be devastating."

Although the support has been pulled from the amendment, opponents are still working hard to educate Missourians on the amendment and asking them to vote against it. 

"It's still there and it's still a challenge until we explain to enough people the reasons behind why we should vote no on Amendment Three," said Fuller.

"The education community is being very well educated on this and 220,000 families will be coming out to vote," said McClintic.

Missourians can vote on Amendment Three on November 4th.

KOMU 8 News would like to hear from our viewers whether they support Amendment Three or not. Use the poll above and to the left to share your view.