StudentsFirst, the ironically (and misleadingly) named Michele Rhee-led organization that is pushing anti-teacher legislation has increased its lobbying contingent in Missouri to nine, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents.
The organization added two lobbyists, Ximena Hartsock and Adam Childers, to its roster Monday.
StudentsFirst suffered a setback Wednesday when it failed to receive House approval of one of the centerpieces of the bills it is pushing across the U. S. requiring that at least 50 percent of teacher evaluations be based on student scores on standardized tests.
But another portion of that bill, which would eliminate any use of seniority in determining layoffs, is still standing, thanks to strongarm tactics by House leadership.
A breakdown of what happened was included in a legislative update issued Wednesday night by Missouri National Education Association:
The House gave first round approval (Perfection vote) to HCS/HB 1526 (Scott Dieckhaus) on May 2, after adopting an amendment to remove all provisions in the bill other than changes to reduction in force law. A final approval (Third Reading) vote is expected on May 3.
The perfected HCS/HB 1526 damages the reduction in force (RIF) requirements by undermining respect for certification, experience and commitment, forcing districts to create an entirely new system to determine layoff priorities and leaving districts vulnerable to various legal challenges in implementing this new, untested mandate. The Association opposes the bill.
An extremist group known as Students First, centered in Sacramento, California, has hired numerous lobbyists in Missouri and is pushing the various changes in tenure and evaluation policy contained in the various versions of HB 1526 and in SB 806 (Jane Cunningham).
When it became clear on May 2 that there were not sufficient votes to pass the detailed evaluation mandates imposed in the HCS version of HB 1526, the bill's proponents hastily changed the language yet again and then quickly brought up the bill, giving House members only minutes to consider the new language before voting on it.
When it came to the vote on perfection, the bill initially was far from having a majority of votes, but the board was held open for about ten minutes while House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones and other caucus leaders walked the floor, pressuring Representatives to change their votes. Eventually, enough votes were changed to reach a slim 80-78 majority and the board was closed.
When the bill is brought up for a final approval (Third Reading) vote, it will need a constitutional majority of 82 votes to pass.
MNEA issued an action alert, asking its members to contact legislators about the bill.