Sinquefield ally wants teacher tenure abolished

2012-01-18T00:00:00Z 2012-01-19T20:29:44Z Sinquefield ally wants teacher tenure abolishedBY ELIZABETHE HOLLAND > 314-340-8259

Tenure for new teachers in Missouri would be abolished under an initiative petition filed Tuesday by a Jefferson City attorney who has worked with retired investor Rex Sinquefield to overhaul the state's income tax and give St. Louis control of its police department.

Marc Ellinger, legal counsel for two groups Sinquefield has bankrolled for their work regarding tax reform and police control issues, said Tuesday that Sinquefield supports his push to eliminate teacher tenure through a constitutional amendment, but that Sinquefield is not leading the effort.

Under the proposal, school districts that receive any state funding or local tax revenue could not enter into contracts exceeding three years with new teachers or staff. Districts would not receive public funding if seniority plays a role in determining whether to retain, remove, promote or demote teachers. Every district also would be required to develop and use local performance standards in making such decisions.

"We believe that by going to this format, we're encouraging the best teachers to be retained, the best teachers to be promoted and therefore the best possible education to occur for our kids," Ellinger said.

Ellinger said the changes would affect only teachers hired after the amendment is approved by voters. The issue could appear on the ballot in November if supporters gather about 150,000 signatures from six of nine congressional districts, he said.

Chris Guinther, president of the Missouri National Education Association, said an effort to undermine teachers will not improve public schools in the state. "It's really a shame that folks are trying to accomplish a reform effort that is not proven to work," Guinther said.

A bill to end teacher tenure and institute a merit pay system for public school teachers was filed in the state Legislature last year, but it died.

Jessica Bock of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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