February 7, 2016

Teacher tenure survives challenge but is changed (AUDIO)

The state senate refuses to do away with teacher tenure.   But is does agree to make it twice as hard to get it. 

Chesterfield Senator Jane Cunningham, who wants to kill tenure, says it keeps too many poor teachers in the classrooms and that causes long-term damage to children.  She made a run at repealing tenure three times this week, finally settling on a requirement that teachers be in the same school district for ten years before they qualify—instead of the present five. The decade would be the longest time in the nation for teachers to attain tenure.

The ten-year tenure track idea is a compromise proposal from senate floor leader Tom Dempsey, who says tenure provides teachers with a protection nobody else in any other job has.  

Cunningham says the ten-year standard will keep the pressure on longer for teachers to perform well and keep improving.

She says it gives school boards five more years to decide if a teacher is effective.  The definition of “effective” will be up to each district.

Cunningham does not believe the change in law will discourage students who want to be teachers from getting their degrees or teaching in Missouri. “The higher you raise the stakes, the more people want to meet it,” she says.  She says many don’t want to be teachers because the current process “encourages mediocrity”

She says the more respect teachers are given for their effectiveness and “paying them for their performance and what they’re worth, the more we’re going to get those kind of teachers.”

The state has not fully funded its state aid to school program for several years.

One more favorable vote will send the bill to the House                 

AUDIO: interview with Sen. Cunningham & Rep. Steve Cookson