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Missouri Voters Put Tenure On The Ballot

Voters in Missouri will decide this November whether to weaken teacher tenure and tie salaries to performance, now that the measure has qualified for the ballot.

Constitutional Amendment 3 would require at least half of a teacher’s performance evaluation to be tied to the academic performance of his or her students, and that such evaluations play a central role in decisions on salaries, promotions, and layoffs. The measure would also cap contracts between districts and staff at three years, while giving administrators greater power to dismiss teachers, thereby weakening job protections for teachers.

Unsurprisingly, the law is fiercely opposed by Missouri’s teacher unions, while the campaign in favor is backed by former finance executive Rex Sinquefield, a major player in the politics of the Show-Me State who has aroused a great deal of personal opposition from his enemies.

Advocates say the amendment will allow administrators to remove ineffective teachers, while opponents say it will lead to a deluge of standardized testing. Missouri’s branch of the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union, says the measure would also erode local control of education, since the law requires the evaluation system for teachers to be set by the state department of education.

Teachers have also attempted to block the initiative in the courts, with two teachers from the St. Louis area suing to strike the measure from the ballot, arguing that it violates two sections of the Missouri constitution on education and on collective bargaining.

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