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Education issues: Teacher tenure, charter schools, the "Turner Fix"Posted Friday, April 27, 2012, at 4:29 PM
Education is one of the top priorities in the Missouri Legislature. These issues have an impact on everyone, including all taxpayers. However, most ideas have a long way to go before becoming law; our current legislative session ends on May 18, 2012.
Before I start this report, I want to reemphasize that I believe we have great teachers and schools in our rural area. We must do everything we can to keep that going. Unfortunately, this is not the case in urban parts of our state. Bad schools cost our society in welfare and prison space in the future.
Teacher Tenure: We have spent time on Senate Bill 806, which would make changes to teacher tenure in Missouri. Many believe tenure is an outdated program that retains both good and bad employees. Others say it protects more expensive, experienced teachers from losing their jobs.
Charter Schools: Much time has also been spent debating Senate Bill 576, which is my proposal that would expand charter schools. This includes adding more accountability for existing charters. This new law would allow charter schools in all parts of the state, but mostly only when administered by local school districts, providing for more local control.
Turner Fix: Other education measures also address what has become known as the "Turner Fix." This is borne of a court decision in the St. Louis area (Turner v. Clayton) that would let school districts draw new boundaries and would also allow parents to send their children to districts that neighbor the ones in which they live. Folks in Kansas City and St. Louis have been pulling their children from the city schools and putting them in neighboring districts because both St. Louis and Kansas City's public schools are unaccredited, mainly due to poor academic performance.
Again, in the cases of these big cities, there are a lot of poorly performing schools that are turning out poorly performing students. This has serious consequences on the quality of our workforce and the expenses of welfare and prison costs down the road.
While this is not the case in 99 percent of rural Missouri schools, there is a growing outcry for the ability to allow children to attend the best school possible. In our neck of the woods, we have a lot of folks who live closer to a neighboring school than one in their "home" district. It makes no sense to me to put someone on a bus for one to four hours a day when they could practically walk to a nearby school that is actually in a different district.
These issues will not resolve themselves, and we really need cooler heads to prevail in the debate. With only a few weeks remaining in the legislative session, we have to act quickly. There is too much at stake not to do the right thing for the future of our state.
Senator Stouffer serves the counties of Carroll, Chariton, Cooper, Howard, Lafayette, Macon, Ray, Saline, and a part of Clay. If you have questions or comments about this or any other issue, please call toll free (866) 768-3987 or by
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Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, represented the 21st district in the Missouri Senate until January 2013, when he left after reaching established term limits. He is a life-long resident of Saline County, a farmer and small business owner. He and his wife, Sue Ellen, live on their family farm in Napton. He was the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight. He served on a number of other committees, including Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources; Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy & the Environment; Financial & Governmental Organizations & Elections; Joint Interim Committee on School Accreditation; Missouri Alternative Fuels Commission; Missouri Civil Air Patrol; Missouri Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission; Missouri Senior RX Commission; Alzheimer's State Plan Task Force; Coordinating Council on Special Transportation; and Midwestern Interstate passage Rail Compact Commission.
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