JEFFERSON CITY - Teachers and other school officials came to the Missouri Capitol to support an education bill that would make it easier to fire teachers.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Kevin Elmer, R-Nixa, said the bill will hold teachers accountable who are not effective in their teaching. Under the bill, local school districts would set up how they want their teachers to be evaluated under the bill's guidelines.
Amanda Henry, a former St. Louis teacher, said she supports the bill mainly because it eliminates the "last in, first out" notion in hiring and firing teachers.
"To get rid of a driven teacher who helps students succeed, while allowing a tenure(d) teacher who's providing mediocre instruction to remain in the classroom, is completely unacceptable," Henry said.
Opponents of the bill said it will eliminate seniority, undermine collective bargaining and make local districts set up programs they may not have the resources to set up.
Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis said if schools have to fire a large amount of ineffective teachers, they will not have the resources to hire new ones.
"We have the lowest teacher salary in the entire state, and we can't compete with any other school district," Butler said, referring to schools in his legislative district.
Rep. Genise Montecillo, D-St. Louis, said it is hard for teachers to do their jobs when they are constantly under attack. A former teacher, Montecillo also said the bill is going to create a competitive environment that is not good for teaching.
Mike Wood, a director for the Missouri State Teachers Association, said he was not sure where the need for the bill came from. He also said he does not think that teacher tenure has any effect on teacher performance.
Despite dissent at the hearing over the merits of the bill, Wood said both sides could agree in the importance of education.
"Everyone believes in quality education," Wood said.