ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – One of the more divisive issues in Missouri this year is teacher tenure. It’s under attack, and it’s being vigorously defended.

Leading the drive to eliminate teacher tenure is Attorney Marc Ellinger, who says a system without tenure will motivate the best candidates to get into the teaching profession.

“What its going to do is encourage innovation and encourage teachers to be flexible and work hard to get the best student performance.” said Ellinger.

It would have just the opposite effect says Mike Wood with the Missouri Teachers Association.  He says eliminating tenure would discourage a willingness to think outside the box.  “They are asked to do alot in their classrooms everyday to educate children and a lot of times the decisions they have to make with their students are not always popular with the parents or the board of education.” said Wood.

“Why teachers need tenure is to protect them so they can have the ability to continue to do this difficult job without worrying about getting arbitrarily terminated.” said Wood.

Ellinger argues: “Once a teacher gets tenure it is nearly impossible to get rid of them for performance issues.  They don’t have that incentive to do well because they are going to get paid , they are going to receive their increases regardless of their performance.”

Wood counters: “They don’t understand the teacher tenure law we have in Missouri.  It is not a costly or long process to remove someone that is doing poorly in the classroom.”  Wood says the present law simply gives a tenured teacher the right to due process before termination.”

Wood says a tenured teacher can still be fired, but the contract assures them of due process.

The move to eliminate tenure will first have to file a petition with the Secretary of State and then collect 150,000 signatures to put a question on the ballot.  Ellinger says the proposal would not effect teachers who are currently tenured.  The longest contract with a new teacher could not exceed three years.  School districts that don’t abide by the law would lose state funding.

Copyright KMOX Radio


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