The Missouri Senate, by a 17-15 vote Tuesday, amended Sen. Jane Cunningham's teacher tenure bill to remove the provision eliminating tenure, but the game may not be over yet.
With the vote that close, it is expected that arm-twisting will take place to convince the senators who voted for the compromise measure by Education Commitee Chairman David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, to impanel a committee to explore teacher pay.
The Missouri National Education Association (MNEA) is continuing its action alert, issuing the following report Tuesday night:
The Senate debated SB 806 (Jane Cunningham) at length on April 3. The original bill eliminates the current tenure law for all teachers, and places all teachers on an initial one-year contract. Districts could choose to allow one or more teachers to have contracts of up to four years. The bill also eliminates seniority as a factor in decisions regarding reduction in force.
The original bill also includes numerous mandates regarding teacher evaluation systems, such as requiring at least fifty percent of evaluations to be based on student test scores and prohibiting districts and employees from designing evaluation systems within collective bargaining negotiations. The also repeals the minimum salary law for all teachers.
Sen. Jason Crowell offered an amendment to the SCS that would have removed all provisions from the bill except the repeal of teacher tenure. Later in the day, Sen. Cunningham offered a SS version that generally incorporated Crowell's amendment. The SS repeals teacher tenure and removes seniority or years of service as a factor in reduction in force.
Sen. Jim Lembke offered an amendment to remove RIF reinstatement language for non-certified staff in St. Louis City. The amendment was adopted.
Sen. David Pearce offered the key amendment to the bill on April 3. Pearce's amendment removed all language related to tenure repeal and replaced it with language similar to his SB 13 from 2011 to create an interim study committee on the issue. The amendment was adopted by a roll-call vote of 17-15. The Association supported the amendment, which was essentially a proxy vote against repeal of teacher tenure, and appreciates the support of those Senators voting for Sen. Pearce's amendment.
Senators voting in favor of Pearce's amendment to maintain teacher tenure were:
Senators Brown, Callahan, Curls, Dixon, Engler, Green, Justus, Keaveny, Kraus, McKenna, Munzlinger, Parson, Pearce, Richard, Schaefer, Wasson and Wright-Jones.
Senators voting to keep tenure repeal in the bill were:
Senators Chappelle-Nadal, Crowell, Cunningham, Dempsey, Kehoe, Lager, Lamping, Lembke, Mayer, Nieves, Purgason, Ridgeway, Schaaf, Schmitt and Stouffer.
After adoption of Pearce's amendment, Sen. Cunningham laid the bill over on the Informal Calendar with the amended SS version pending. The Senate is likely to return to debate on the bill on April 4, and address the other issues in the bill, such as removing seniority and years of service as factors in reduction in force. Bill supporters may also seek to persuade a Senator who voted for Sen. Pearce's amendment to move to reconsider the close vote by which the amendment was adopted.
The Association strongly opposes the bill. Teachers need an effective voice in their schools. Teacher tenure is just a process to address issues of concern and ensure teachers are not fired arbitrarily. Where districts face challenges with under-performing teachers, the real issue to address is establishing a quality evaluation system that provides teachers with feedback and support in improving performance and addressing concerns.
Instead of repealing tenure, Missouri NEA supports a requirement that districts establish a strong and effective evaluation system, as contained in SB 654, filed by Sen. Brad Lager.
ACTION NEEDED: Your help is needed! IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY DONE SO, please call, write or e-mail to urge your state senator to oppose SCS/SB 806. The following link will connect you to the MNEA Legislative Action Center Action Alert on SCS/SB 806.
Type in your zip code and the alert will automatically be directed to your state senator. The Action Alert contains a brief summary and a brief, editable message box to help you send an email to your state senator on the issue.
YOUR MESSAGE WILL HAVE A GREATER IMPACT IF YOU PERSONALIZE THE MESSAGE AND ADD YOUR OWN CONCERNS REGARDING THE BILL.