Constitutional Amendment 3 is the single most pressing issue on the ballot in Missouri this fall. Teachers believe that the Amendment is detrimental to student learning and that it forces a one-size-fits all approach to teaching. Keep reading to learn more about Amendment 3, and to hear what Missouri’s teachers have to say about it.
About Amendment 3
Constitutional Amendment 3 will result in huge changes to Missouri public school education. A reform advocacy group called Teach Great petitioned to add Amendment 3 to the November 4th General Election ballot, and although Teach Great recently shut down, Amendment 3 remains on the ballot.
What Amendment 3 Says
Amendment 3 does three things to education: It threatens local control; it ties teacher’s salaries and evaluations directly to expensive new standardized tests; and it forces a one-size-fits-all approach.
Specifically, Amendment 3 says:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
· Require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding;
· Require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system;
· Require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts; and prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system.
Learn More: What Amendment 3 Means for Schools
A Threat To Local Control
According to Amendment 3, the state would be responsible for creating and administering new standardized that would be used to evaluate students and teachers. Missouri educators don’t agree that the state knows better than districts do what’s best for their students.
“Parents and teachers know what’s best for local schools,” says Katy Schwartz-Drowns, a teacher in St. Joseph. (source)
Missouri teachers aren’t alone. In fact, the vast majority of Americans believe that local communities (not state- or federal-level leaders) should have the most influence over decisions about public school education. Amendment 3 puts our schools’ futures in the hands of the state, instead of in the care of principals, superintendents, parents, and school boards.
Robyn Behen, a Jefferson City teacher says that,
“After 20 years in the classroom, I know that the people who know best about teaching, education, and what our students need are the teachers that have been trained for that profession and the parents. Our local communities are the ones that know what they want their local students to know.” (source)
Amendment 3 says that what our local communities think doesn’t matter, and that a state-issued standardized test in each subject area will provide the information schools need in order to make decisions about a teacher’s pay, promotion, or release from responsibility. Missouri teachers, on the other hand, believe that expensive new tests will be detrimental to school budgets.
New Standardized Tests: A Financial Burden
The expenses associated with developing and maintaining these new standardized tests will fall to local schools, districts, and taxpayers, many of whom are already struggling to support students’ needs.
Amy Kelsey, a teacher in rural Easton, Missouri, talked to the Missouri State Teachers Association, saying that Amendment 3 could affect not just local schools, but entire communities:
“My school district will not be able to come up with the money it’s going to take to fund all these tests and then to maintain them, and school districts are the heart of every community. So if your school district cannot do this, they will close. And then your town is going to dry up because you’re going to be taking kids—for us, we’d probably have to be taking kids 20 to 30 miles away. And that’s not good for schools, that’s not good for kids, that’s not good for our community.” (source)
Amendment 3 will be devastating to small schools and to rural districts with limited local funding. Even districts that have a history of strong funding and public recognition are concerned about the strain these new tests will put on school budgets, though. Michael Kuhn, a teacher in the Lindbergh School District, said that:
“Amendment 3 is an imposition on our community, removing local control, evaluating teachers on a single standardized test, and it threatens to drain our budget with mandated standardized testing costs.” (source)
Local taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for Teach Great’s fly-by-night reform attempts. Amendment 3 creates testing expenses that are neither acceptable to local communities nor sustainable based on their local tax revenues.
Learn More: Where Does Missouri’s Education Funding Come From?
A One-Size-Fits-All Approach
If Amendment 3 passes, standardized tests will be created for every subject area, including those areas not currently subject to standardized testing. How can a standardized test creativity or innovation?
“Vote no on Amendment 3 and help bring creativity and critical thinking back to education,” said Anna Griesbach, a computer teacher in Kansas City Public Schools. “It is not good for our kids or for Missouri.” (source)
How can a standardized test account for how far a student has come to make up for life circumstances that fall outside of his or her control? How can a standardized test measure the skills like showing up, being on time, working well with classmates, or following directions—skills our students need in order to be college and career ready?
Amendment 3 brushes these very meaningful aspects of a child’s holistic school experience aside, measuring his or her success by a quantitative figure on a standardized test score instead.
“It [Amendment 3] is looking at students as if they are numbers,” said Dr. Lisa Hinton, a 3rd grade teacher “instead of living, breathing, human beings, and it will affect their education immensely.” (source)
Amendment 3 is an expensive, one-size-fits-all, non-solution that takes control away from the same educational leaders that the vast majority of Americans believe should have the most influence on public education. As Karin Schafer, a teacher in Blue Springs R-4 puts it, a one-size-fits-all approach “is not something that is truly showing what a child’s potential is.” (source)
Missouri doesn’t need expensive tests that will turn local school budgets upside down and turn the potential of our living, breathing children into inhuman, one-dimensional test scores. On November 4th, it’s critical that Missouri parents, teachers, administrators, and community members rally together at the polls to vote no on Amendment 3.
Missouri Parent’s mission includes helping parents to understand legislative and funding issues facing Missouri’s public schools. Come back often to the Missouri Parent Blog, and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the know about your child’s public school education.
Teach Great Shuts its Doors, but Amendment 3 Still Stands
What is ‘Teach Great’?
Missouri’s Educational Associations Plead: Vote No on Amendment 3
#MoNoOn3: A Constitutional Amendment Affecting Public Schools