MSTA Action – April 6, 2018

2018-04-06T15:00:46+00:00 April 6th, 2018|Categories: Action|0 Comments

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Charter expansion bill placed on House calendar

HB2247 (Roeber) was placed on the House calendar this week and could be brought up for consideration in the near future. MSTA remains opposed to HB2247, as this bill falls outside of MSTA Adopted Resolutions supporting charter schools and fails to address concerns MSTA has brought forward regarding the long-held Missouri tradition of local control of public schools.  MSTA supports charter school expansion when charters are granted by the local school board within an existing accredited Missouri public school district. This legislation is also absent important considerations that charter school populations should be representative of the overall district population.

In a letter to members of the Missouri House, Rep. Kathy Swan, chair of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, outlined many concerns and problems that exist in current Missouri charter school law.  Rep. Swan also used DESE data to conduct a comparison between charter schools and traditional public schools. Swan, a well-respected member of the House, recently participated in a White House panel discussion regarding the economy, jobs, healthcare, the opioid crisis, education and national security. Swan has a vast education background, including serving as chair of the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, but her letter also reflected her background as a business owner and leader in Missouri.

Swan stated “At their creation in statute twenty years ago, Missouri charter schools were granted additional flexibility with a mission to establish schools of innovation. Over the years, the schools have veered off course, away from the initial innovative intent. Yet, bursts of innovation have appeared throughout the state in our traditional public schools. Whether to address regional workforce needs, student interests or areas of lower performance and poverty, our traditional public schools have become the innovators.” She further highlighted many of the programs that schools around the state are undertaking to meet the needs of students, families and the community.

Swan spent time accessing Department of Elementary and Secondary Education data regarding school building annual performance report scores and compiled data that demonstrates “that 92 percent of the 2,054 traditional school buildings in the state scored an APR above 70 percent in 2017, as compared to 49 percent of the 47 charter school buildings.”

Traditional Public School Buildings
Year Total Number Scored Number scoring 70 percent or below Percent scoring 70 percent or below Number scoring below 50 percent Percent scoring below 50 percent Percent scoring above 70 percent
2017 2054 167 8% 16 1% 92%
2016 2054 237 12% 50 2% 88%
2015 2046 201 10% 56 3% 90%
Charter School Buildings
Year Total Number Scored Number scoring 70 percent or below Percent scoring 70 percent or below Number scoring below 50 percent Percent scoring below 50 percent Percent scoring above 70 percent
2017 47 24 51% 4 9% 49%
2016 60 27 45% 8 13% 55%
2015 50 21 42% 7 14% 58%

Drawing from her business background, Swan further stated “Our family business would certainly not have opened in new locations without having a successful business template.”

Swan believes the path forward is to have “deliberative conversations to re-define the intent and mission, not the expansion of a program (HB2247) plagued by a loss of direction and low performance.” She further outlined the importance of the creation of a Charter Schools Task Force that would include input from across the education community and study the current charter school model and present its findings to the legislature.

State Board of Education appointments still in limbo

With the legislative session past the halfway mark, the Senate has continued its work of confirming appointments made by Gov. Eric Greitens.  While there have been hearings and confirmations on several appointments, the names submitted by the governor for consideration on the State Board of Education remain in a holding pattern. No action has been taken on those appointments, and the State Board of Education has lacked a quorum to conduct business since Jan. 2, 2018.

When Greitens took office, there were three members of the State Board of Education who were serving on expired terms. Members can continue to serve on many state boards until a replacement is nominated. Between July 31 and Dec. 1, the governor appointed 10 people to fill five vacancies that existed through resignations, expired terms and the withdrawal of the governor’s own appointments.

Greitens began appointing new members to the State Board of Education on July 31. Appointments made when the legislature is out of session are sworn into office and can perform the full duties of the office but must be confirmed by the Senate in the first 30 days of any session.

Minutes before the 2018 legislative session convened, Greitens withdrew his nominees and once the Senate was in session, reappointed the five previous nominees. Although interim appointments can serve and vote in the capacity of the office, they must be confirmed in the first 30 days of any session. Appointments made during session must be confirmed before they can act in an official capacity.  Until the Senate approves additional appointments to the State Board of Education, there are only three members of the eight-member board that are able to take votes, not enough to conduct regular business or hire a new commissioner. Although the five pending appointees are no longer allowed to vote until confirmed or rejected during the legislative session, their prior decisions will continue to be in place and the hiring of a new commissioner will be on hold until there are at least two more members of the board confirmed by the Missouri Senate.

The Senate has until the end of the legislative session to hold hearings on the appointments, and vote on their confirmations. There are several scenarios that could still play out regarding the current appointees. The appointees could be confirmed, although there have been several reports that members of the Senate will refuse to let that vote take place. With the consent of the Senate, the governor could withdraw his current appointees and make new nominations or continue with the current slate of candidates. If no action is taken on the current appointees, and the Senate refuses to allow the governor to withdraw them, they will be banned for life from serving on the State Board of Education. Upon the conclusion of the legislative session, Greitens will again be allowed to appoint members to the State Board that will have the full power and responsibilities of the board until the legislature is again in session and their appointments will be reviewed, the same scenario that occurred last fall.

The responsibility to properly vet all appointees to the State Board of Education rests in the hands of the Missouri Senate. There is great work ahead for the board, including the hiring of a new commissioner, development of MSIP 6 and catching up on six months of deferred work from the department.

Reading bills moving in legislature

Two bills dealing with how reading is taught are moving through the Missouri Legislature. HB1712 (Pfautsch) changes the requirements for future elementary teachers. The bill requires that all students receiving degrees in elementary education after Jan. 1, 2020, to complete a minimum of six credit hours of literacy course work aimed at preparing students to:

-Apply research-based instructional practices to help students achieve state standards.

-Evaluate reading and literacy development of all students including linguistically, culturally, and academically diverse learners.

-Analyze the importance of literacy for lifelong learning.

-Analyze and apply literacy assessment data to inform reading and literacy instruction.

-Analyze the role of language development in reading and literacy.

– Apply professional learning as a scholar-practitioner to effect positive change in literacy education.

This bill was voted do pass in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and awaits action by the full House.

The Senate is working on SB949 (Emery) that would repeal existing reading intervention programs and establish a new reading intervention program for students in kindergarten to third grade. The intervention program must be provided to those students who exhibit a reading deficiency or have a formal diagnosis of dyslexia.

A student who exhibits a reading deficiency shall receive an individual reading improvement plan no later than 30 days after the identification of the reading deficiency for students in first through third grade and by Jan. 31 for kindergarten students. The student’s parent shall be notified no later than 15 days after the identification of the reading deficiency. Beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, students who are not reading at grade level by the end of the second grade must receive intensive reading intervention. Each school district and charter school is required to review student reading improvement plans and provide additional services.

Each school district and charter school would also be required to establish an intensive acceleration class for any student not reading proficient or above on the third grade state assessment and offer summer reading camps that would be provided to all third grade students scoring at the lowest achievement level on the third grade statewide English language arts assessment.

The bill was debated by the Senate, but no vote was taken.

Bill to restrict school start date heard in committee

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee heard HB1826 (Houghton) that modifies the law governing school start dates by removing the option that school districts may set an opening date more than 10 calendar days prior to the first Monday in September.

Current law states that a district may set an opening date that is more than 10 calendar days prior to the first Monday in September only if the local school board first gives public notice and conducts a public meeting to discuss the proposal of opening school on a date more than 10 days prior to the first Monday in September.  A majority of the board must vote to allow an earlier opening date. These conditions must be satisfied by the local school board each year that the board proposes an opening date more than 10 days before the first Monday in September.

If any local district violates these conditions, DESE shall withhold an amount equal to one quarter of the state funding the district generated through the school foundation funding formula for each date the district was in violation. MSTA testified in opposition to this legislation. MSTA Adopted Resolutions state MSTA supports a school calendar being made by the local school district with input from teachers and other school employees.

Sign up for the MSTA Campaign Workshop

While MSTA has had broad support in the legislature from strong public school advocates as well as former and current MSTA members, finding individuals that will fight for the success of public education has never been more important. To continue being an effective player in the political process, MSTA needs to be involved much earlier in the campaign process, not only supporting and retaining great candidates, but also recruiting them. MSTA will again hold a campaign workshop for those interested in learning more about political campaigns or considering a future run for office.  This one-day crash course will cover a broad range of topics including campaign management, fundraising, advertising, and media training.

The MSTA Campaign Workshop is a great introduction to the time and work that is required to run for office, and a great way to learn how to effectively help campaigns. Quality candidates that will advocate for Missouri’s students, teachers and communities in the Missouri Legislature come from all walks of life, and if you have thought this might be a position for you, come explore your options.

The course will cover both campaigns for the Missouri Legislature as well as information regarding school board elections. Dates for 2018 have not yet been set, if interested, please contact MSTA Government Relations Manager, Matt Michelson at mmichelson@msta.org.

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