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Missouri Teachers Say Rights-Stripping Ballot Initiative is Unconstitutional

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A lawsuit brought forward by two teachers in Missouri will attempt to halt a statewide ballot initiative on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and would make drastic changes to education by limiting tenure protections.

The proposed constitutional amendment would severley impact education and collective bargaining.  Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has until August 5th to determine if the ballot initiative has enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Via Associated Pres:

The proposal would curb tenure protections for teachers and other certified school staff by limiting their contracts to three years. Starting in July 2015, all public school districts would need to adopt evaluation standards that use student performance data to guide decisions on promoting, demoting, firing and paying personnel.

The proposal states that teachers would continue to have the constitutional right to bargain collectively, except with respect to the performance-based evaluation system.

The measure is packaged as a single amendment to Article 9 of the Missouri Constitution pertaining to education. But the lawsuit says it also effectively amends Article 1 establishing the right to collective bargaining. If so, that would violate constitutional provisions requiring initiatives to amend only one article of the constitution and to address only one subject, the lawsuit states.

Jefferson City lawyer Chuck Hatfield brought the suit on behalf of plaintiffs Anita Marie Kuehner and Daniel Twombly, two teachers in the Francis Howell School District.  Kuehner is president of a local chapter of the National Education Association (NEA).

In a written statement DeeAnn Aull of the Missouri NEA said the amendment would “result in more time spent testing and less time spent learning, actually short-changing the education students receive.”


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