In his weekly report, Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, explains the content of colleague Rep. Scott Dieckhaus' bill to eliminate teacher tenure and says he does not like part of the bill, but he offers no specifics about which parts of the bill do not meet his approval:
Most of us receive regular reviews at our places of work. Usually, it comes in the form of a performance review by a superior. Sometimes, people are judged by the general public or the clients they serve.
Our teachers are among our most critical members of society. There are few positions more sacred than those held by teachers. We entrust our children and our future to those leading our classrooms. Fortunately, we have great teachers in rural Missouri who get up each day eager to instill more knowledge and skills into the minds of our students. I could not be more proud to know many of these folks working in schools throughout the area.
There is a lot of discussion about education reforms in the United States. One topic is teacher tenure. I believe our teachers do a good job and should be protected from being fired for not passing certain students or having high standards in the classroom. I do not know of a perfect way to encourage our teachers to continue to do good work, but those who do great work should not be afraid to be paid more for their efforts.
There is a bill in the Missouri House that tries to address these concerns. House Bill 628 would start the “Teacher Continuing Contract Act.” This measure would take effect on July 1, 2012 and do several things:
Base 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation on teaching standards, as established by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education;
Require an annual evaluation of each school administrator and base 50 percent of his or her score on the policies established for administrators developed by the state board;
Specify that a contract between a school district and a teacher will be known as a continuing contract and will continue in effect for up to two or more years, while probationary contracts last one year;
Establish a salary schedule effective July 1, 2013 based on performance;
Require teachers to be evaluated at least annually and twice in the final year of a continuing contract, place equal weight on individual student performance growth and achievement of teaching standards and limit teaching standard scores in the top 33 percent to no more than 40 percent of a building's teachers.
Opponents to this type of plan say it is not always possible to base a teacher’s performance on how well a group of students do academically; some students will do better than others. Sometimes, standardized tests can produce different results than a locally-produced exam. Local control is of utmost importance — in fact, I support dissolving the federal Department of Education. These are all factors to take into consideration.
The bottom line is we have to ensure our children continue to get a world-class education. While I am opposed to some of the concepts in this bill, I am open to hearing ideas from our best teachers on how to meet these goals. I look forward to hearing and debating all ideas as we move forward in this legislative session.