Measure to allow state control of KC schools revived in Missouri House

04/30/2013 7:58 AM

05/20/2014 10:43 AM

Legislation dealing with teacher tenure — and tied by statehouse politics to local control of Kansas City schools — got new life Monday.

Just days after failing to win passage in a House committee — and after House Speaker Tim Jones kicked off the committee two Republicans who had voted against it — the measure to change teacher-retention rules and evaluations for school administrators and teachers was reconsidered and approved on a 6-2 vote.

The same bill also would give the state the authority to immediately take over the troubled Kansas City Public Schools.

The measures were linked after a similar evaluations bill was defeated in the House on a 102-55 vote. Despite the fact that Jones, a Eureka Republican, has called the bill one of his biggest legislative priorities of the year, a majority of his own party voted against it.

Broad support exists in the General Assembly for giving the state immediate power to take over Kansas City schools, but that has been used as political leverage on the tenure measure.

Monday’s vote could not have taken place without the support of Rep. Brandon Ellington, a Kansas City Democrat. He made the motion to reconsider but ultimately voted against the bill again.

Ellington said he agreed to allow the bill to move forward because House leaders assured him he’ll be able to offer amendments removing portions of the bill he opposes, specifically those altering teacher tenure.

“I have no doubt that these amendments will pass because a majority of the people in the House have the same problems with the bill that I have,” he said.

Speaker Jones said he is open to any changes in the bill that will help get it across the finish line.

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Currently, tenured teachers are most often evaluated on a three- or five-year cycle, with the decision on frequency made by the local school district. The legislation would make those evaluations a yearly routine and base at least 33 percent of the scores on how well students perform on standardized tests and how much growth they show from previous scores.

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