JEFFERSON CITY - Two days after Missouri's Senate rejected eliminating teacher tenure, they passed a measure to make it harder for teacher's to qualify for job protection.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, sponsored the measure increasing the amount of time a teacher has to work from five to ten years get tenure.
"Moving it from five to ten years means teachers will continue to grow and develop," Dempsey said.
Dempsey's amendment was tacked on a measure sponsored by Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-St. Louis County, which eliminates the "last in, first out" principle for laying off teachers. Currently, teacher's with seniority have more protection if a school needs to cut jobs than newer ones, regardless of their job performance.
Democrats questioned to need to increase the time required to earn tenure and said they thought the issue had been dealt with earlier in the week.
"I don't know what going from five to ten years does," said Senate Minority Leader Victor Callahan, D-Jackson County.
The original bill before the Senate would have eliminated tenure completely. The Senate rejected this idea and adopted a plan by a 17 to 15 vote from Senate Education Committee Chairman David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, setting up a task force to study teach pay.
Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, supported eliminating tenure altogether and said the bill passed Thursday was "hijacked."
"This bill has been watered down to accomplish absolutely nothing," Crowell said.
Crowell attacked his Republican Senate colleagues for failing to get rid of tenure.
"This Republican dominated legislature doesn't do anything Republican, might as well have Democrats in here," Crowell said.
The new measure's supporters called the plan a compromise.
The bill needs one more affirmative vote in the Senate before it moves to the House.