And The Award Goes To . . .
A number of good pieces of legislation have been introduced in the Missouri Legislature this year. But I have decided that my favorite piece of education reform legislation is Senate Bill 408. This proposed legislation strikes an excellent balance between providing good governance and allowing local schools to determine their policies.
The proposed bill essentially accomplishes five things:
- Establishes school letter grades.
- Requires teacher evaluations to be conducted annually based in part on increasing student achievement.
- Removes the state requirement of Last In, First Out when a district is undergoing a reduction in force.
- Requires school districts to depart from the single salary schedule and develop a performance pay system based on the evaluations.
- Removes permanent teacher status for newly hired teachers.
What makes this bill stand apart from other bills that deal with letter grades and teacher policies is the flexibility it provides to schools to determine their own policies. The bill would not mandate exactly how a district must evaluate teachers, nor would it mandate how they must award pay increases. It simply provides guidance and a framework with which school districts are free to determine their own policies. Moreover, it does not change tenure or pay policies for current teachers, unless the teacher chooses to opt into the performance pay program.
I submitted written testimony to the Senate Education Committee and concluded:
Senate Bill 408 would remove some restrictive regulations that inhibit schools from making important staffing decisions and would replace them with good governance that provides school districts a lot of leeway to develop their own policies. For all of these reasons, I am in support of this bill.
And that is why I am awarding this bill the James Shuls Favorite Bill Award.