Some Progress on Teacher Tenure Reform
Missourinet reports today that a “watered-down” teacher tenure reform bill is moving through the state Senate. The bill would make it more difficult for teachers to gain tenure. Under the new bill, it would take teachers 10 years to gain tenure, instead of the five years it takes under existing law.
This may have a marginal positive impact, allowing school districts more time to weed out ineffective teachers before they gain tenure. But frankly, I am skeptical that this provision will do much. Many of the school districts we highlighted on this blog earlier this week that had terminated just one or no teachers since the year 2000 also reported low non-renewals of teachers who have not attained tenure status.
For example, the Belleview School District, which reported not terminating a single teacher since the year 2000, reported only three non-renewals. The DeSoto School District, which reported terminating one teacher, reports zero non-renewals since the year 2000. The Potosi School District, which employs about 170 teachers and has not terminated a single teacher since the year 2000, reports 10 non-renewals.
However, I do think a provision in the Teacher Multiyear Contract Act may give school districts the latitude needed to terminate poor-performing teachers when needed. Under existing law, if a school district needs to lay off teachers due to budgetary concerns, the district is required to lay off its newest teachers.
The Multiyear Contract Act would change that. The legislation states:
Seniority or years of service shall not be used as criteria for reduction in force; effective teacher performance shall be the deciding criterion.
This provision would allow districts facing financial distress to keep the best teachers — not those who have stayed on the longest. This would certainly help struggling school districts prioritize providing a good education to students, instead of being required to provide employment to those who have been there the longest.