Education was a top issue during the recently-ended session of the Missouri House and Senate.
The General Assembly shot down several sweeping reform issues over the past few months. Representative Mike Lair, of Chillicothe, said some of those dealt with tenure and evaluations. It would have used state tests to measure the success of teachers.
Click to hear KMZU’s Sarah Scott speak with Lair:
Lair said the logistics of the bill would not work because the tests are given in March, most teachers are hired in April, and those results don’t come back until August. “Of course the bill’s sponsor was a non-education person. The just simply didn’t understand the way it would work,” said Lair.
He believes it is possible to find a different plan for evaluation of teachers and administrators. Lair has been selected to chair the Joint Interim Committee on Education, and says he would like to see the issue brought forward over the summer.
The prevailing wage laws were changed. According to Representative Joe Don McGaugh, of Carrollton, if signed by the governor, it will no longer be required for schools in third- and fourth-class counties.
Click to hear KMZU’s Sarah Scott speak with McGaugh:
“Putting a new roof on the school is an expensive process, and if we can use local contractors who are using local wage rates, we feel like we can get a better bang out of our public tax dollars,” said McGaugh. Labor organizations are not happy with the legislation. McGaugh said this is why it has been limited to the smallest counties.
Senate Bill 437 would change higher education funding to a performance-based system. Senator David Pearce sponsored the legislation. It was passed by the Senate, but stalled in the House.
Click to hear KMZU’s Sarah Scott speak with Pearce:
Pearce hopes the General Assembly will pick up the bill again in the next session. “Had a lot of support from our community colleges, I think there’s a lot in our four-year schools that see the importance of a funding formula that relies on performance. But I’ll be honest, it’s very controversial. It’s something that there’s not a lot of unanimity at this point, but we’re working on it,” said Pearce. Pearce will meet with presidents of the state’s four-year colleges on June 10th to discuss the bill’s strengths and shortcomings.
Some controversy was raised with a bill concerning guns in schools. Representative Dean Dohrman says, if signed by the governor, the bill would allow Boards of Education to designate one person to carry a concealed weapon. This person’s identity would not be revealed to the public.
Click to hear KMZU’s Sarah Scott speak with Dohrman:
“Why are schools attacked? They’re easy targets,” said Dohrman, “People know that the children don’t have guns, teachers don’t carry guns, the administrators don’t carry guns. If there is a guard, he has a uniform on, you can see it.” Dohrman said the goal of this legislation is to put doubt in any potential attacker’s mind, causing fear and preventing a tragedy.
The session ended May 17th.