Teacher Tenure

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JEFFERSON CITY - Some Republicans in the Missouri Senate want to flunk tenure for teachers. On Tuesday bill sponsor Republican Sen. Jane Cunningham introduced Senate Bill 372. The bill would give more authority to school systems to get rid of bad teachers. In place of tenure, teachers would have a one to four year contract along with more evaluations. School boards can also modify contracts annually depending on teacher performance.

Cunningham said the bill is all about helping the students by improving their scores and opportunities.

The legislation also includes a system to rank teachers based on personal and student performance. The better the ranking the more performance pay a teacher will earn. Opposers of the bill like Mike Wood, a lobbyist for Missouri State Teacher Association, said tenure should stay because it motivates Missouri's teachers.

"I think in order to encourage some people to go into education, to ask them to do the tough job they do, ask them to set high standards, ask them to make the tough decisions not only with their students, but with their parents and community, I think that's why we have tenure," Wood said.

Others argue, however, that tenure makes it too difficult for a school district to remove poor performing teachers. Supporters claim removing a tenured teacher can take 2 years and cost a minimum of $50,000. The new system would make this process quicker and cheaper.

"Maybe I sound like horrible person when I say that we need to give school systems more tools to be able to figuratively walk into a teacher and say, 'You know what you're not doing your job, pack up your desk, and get out of here," said Republican Sen. Brian Nieves.

On the other hand, Wood said this bill won't help Missouri's education system.

"I don't think this bill does anything to improve education for our children," Wood said. "In fact, I think it will harm education for our children. This is nothing more than the arm of big government reaching into every classroom in Missouri."

The bill is still in its beginning stages and has a long way to go before it comes to a vote.