Groups push to end tenure for teachers

Teachers across the state are angry over a new proposed state constitutional amendment which would prohibit their tenure.

That's when a teacher completes five years of good service and then is guaranteed a continuing contract and due process before being fired.

Under the proposal, school districts receiving public funding could not enter into new contracts with teachers for a term of more than three years.

Schools would be barred from receiving public funding if seniority plays any role in determining whether to fire or promote teachers.

Districts would be required to use local performance standards for employment decisions that consider student performance.

"I think teachers should be outraged, absolutely outraged that they put in so much work, dedicated to students for what everyone agrees is very little pay in most instances and yet every time they turn around they're attacked and accused of some sort of wrong doing or shortfall," Executive Director of the Missouri National Education Association Ben Simmons said.

Simmons believes tenure gives teachers protection and benefits students too.

â??Many times teachers are put into a position where they need to be an advocate for a student,â?? Simmons said. â??If a teacher has absolutely no job protection, then they're going to think twice about speaking up for the rights of a student of the special needs of a student."

"It is kind of an insurance, but it's not a guarantee for a job, which is they way a lot of people interpret it,â?? tenured teacher Susan McClintic said. â??It is just the guarantee that you have a due process."

McClintic is a second grade teacher at Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary in the Columbia School District.

She's been a teacher for 25 years and she's been tenured for 19.

She said the proposal is an insult.

"It's just yet again, one more insult against educators, it's one more way to say that you are not a professional, it's one more way to say, you do not deserve due process," McClintic said.

Marc Ellinger, the lawyer who represents the group pushing for the proposal, said he thinks it's a great idea and said he stands behind it.

He said we need the best teachers in the classroom and after a teacher is tenured, there is no incentive for them to make changes and get better.

The initiative still needs signatures, about 150,000 of them.

If the petition is approved, the vote on tenure could be in November.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported Ellinger said the changes would affect only teachers hired after the amendment is approved by voters.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)