The Missouri National Education Association issued an action alert Friday in advance of this week's debate on the omnibus education bill sponsored by Rep. Scott Dieckhaus, R-Washington. The bill eliminates tenure for Missouri teachers and opens the door for educational vouchers. The text of the action alert is printed below:
ACTION ALERT - HOUSE TO DEBATE OMNIBUS BILL PUTS REAL NEEDS AT RISK BY PUSHING AGENDA OF VOUCHERS, OPEN ENROLLMENT, TENURE REPEAL AND CHARTER EXPANSION
The House is expected to take up HCS/HB 1740 (Scott Dieckhaus) on February 28. The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee approved an HCS version of HB 1740 on February 22 in a contentious executive session.
1) repeals teacher tenure for all new hires and eliminates use of seniority in reduction in force,
2) repeals the minimum teacher salary for teachers with Master's degrees and ten or more years of teaching,
3) contains a tax-credit style voucher for students of unaccredited districts to attend private schools,
4) adds charter school expansion and accountability similar to HCS/HB 1228 (Tishaura Jones),
5) creates statewide virtual district school and virtual charter school open enrollment,
6) includes provisions allowing accredited districts to establish class-size capacity standards with regard to student transfers from unaccredited districts,
7) contains the provisions of HCS/HB 1174 (Mike Lair) to allow the State Board of Education to hold a hearing and act to revise the governance of a school district when it becomes unaccredited, rather than automatically lapsing the district after two years, and
8) contains the provisions of HCS/HB 1043 (Mike Thomson) regarding distribution of school formula funds when the formula is underfunded.
The committee approved the HCS without amendment by a 13-9 vote. Reps. Dieckhaus, Cookson, Bahr, Barnes, Burlison, Cierpiot, Funderburk, Leara, McNary, Neth, Schad, Scharnhorst and Stream voted in favor. Reps. Anders, Aull, Fitzwater, (Tishaura) Jones, Lampe, McNeil, Shively, Swinger and Thomson voted against the bill. Reps. Carter and Frederick were not present for the vote.
The Association strongly opposes the tenure repeal, charter school expansion, virtual school open enrollment and tax credit-style voucher portions of the bill. Legislative action is needed on several issues included in the bill, such as stabilizing formula aid next year, creating fair standards for student transfers from unaccredited districts and allowing prompt intervention by the State Board in support of unaccredited districts and their communities. The Association opposes holding those positive steps hostage to a radical and unworkable agenda.
ACTION NEEDED: Your help is needed! Please call, write or e-mail to urge your state representative to oppose HCS/HB 1740. The following link will connect you to the MNEA Legislative Action Center Action Alert on HCS/HB 1740.