Missouri voters reject teacher tenure measure

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By SUMMER BALLENTINE

(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., AP) — Missouri voters on Tuesday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to limit Missouri teacher-tenure protections and tie educator evaluations to student performance data.
Amendment 3 was one of the most debated issues on Tuesday’s ballot — the first in almost a quarter century that didn’t feature a race for president, governor or U.S. senator. The amendment would have ended teacher tenure in Missouri and required a majority of educator evaluations be based on student performance data, such as standardized tests.
Though not heavily contested, the ballot measures were the most prominent Election Day decisions and come after five other proposed amendments were decided by voters in August. The only statewide office on Tuesday’s ballot was Republican Auditor Tom Schweich’s seat, who won election to another term after facing no Democratic opposition. None of the state’s eight U.S. House members faced a high-profile challenge.
Republican U.S. Reps. Jason Smith, Vicky Hartzler, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Billy Long, Emanuel Cleaver, Lacy Clay, Ann Wagner and Sam Graves all won elections to new terms.
Voters also rejected a measure that would have allowed early voting in Missouri. They approved a measure that could make it easier to gain convictions or guilty pleas in child sexual abuse cases and one that will limit governors’ ability to freeze or slow state spending.
But the most watched ballot initiative was Amendment 3, the teacher-tenure measure.
The amendment was pushed by a group financed by investment firm founder Rex Sinquefield, the state’s most prominent political donor. The group, Teach Great, dropped its campaign after polls showed poor public support — but that didn’t stop education groups from fighting the proposal. They said it could have pushed educators to “teach to the test,” and could have led to poor results for educators of disadvantaged students who might score poorly regardless of instruction.
Voters also cited concerns that schools would need to have performance evaluations approved by the state.
“I didn’t want them to be judged just by testing,” said Barbara Rafael, a 49 -year-old Kansas City restaurateur and Democrat.
Amendment 10 now allows lawmakers to override a governor’s decision to freeze or slow spending on items in the state budget — just as they currently can for line-item vetoes. The initiative also prevents governors from making budget recommendations to the Legislature based on revenue from legislation that’s not yet been passed.
Monta Uptergrove, a 78-year-old retired hardware store owner from Tipton, said Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon now has “too much power” and voted for the amendment.
Democrats fought against Amendment 6, a Republican initiative to create six days of no-excuse-needed early voting before general elections.
Missouri currently has no early voting, other than allowing absentee voting in limited circumstances when people attest they won’t be able to vote in person on Election Day.
Democrats argued the proposal was too restrictive, in part because it wouldn’t allow for weekend voting. It also included a caveat that early voting could occur only if funding is approved from the governor and Legislature. Republican backers said the measure could have increased access to voting while ensuring residents don’t miss important campaign developments by voting too early.
Dale Harris, 45, an underwriter from Columbia, said he was opposed.
“There’s enough in place right now where if you have to vote early and need to vote early, you can,” he said.
Amendment 2 passed with the support of some prosecutors and law enforcement officials who want to be able to use allegations of past criminal acts against suspects facing sex-related charges involving victims under 18 years old. The measure faced no organized opposition.
It is an exception to the general prohibition against using evidence of past crimes against defendants facing new criminal charges.
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Follow Summer Ballentine at https://www.twitter.com/esballentine.