Home    |    What Is the Teach Great Initiative    |    Why Is the Initiative Necessary?    |    Read the Initiative Petition    |    Learn More    |    Media Room

Click here to view the 2013 petition

Contact Marc Ellinger for more information: 573.634.2500

What Is the Teach Great Initiative

The Teach Great Initiative is a constitutional amendment that would appear on the 2014 ballot. If approved by voters, the initiative will:

  • ensure teachers are evaluated based on an objective measure: their students’ academic growth;
  • protect great teachers and their students by requiring teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted, and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system;
  • end the unfair “last-in-first-out” rule, which often means that effective teachers are let go, while ineffective teachers stay;
  • require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts, so that their performance can be re-evaluated as it would be in any other profession; and
  • protect the rights of educators to collectively bargain for salary, benefits, and working conditions.

Why is the Teach Great Initiative necessary?

Nothing influences a child’s outcome in school more than a great teacher. Outdated teacher tenure and seniority-based layoff policies hold great teachers back while rewarding underperformers – at the expense of Missouri students.

The Teach Great Initiative will make teacher evaluations a more fair and accurate assessment of an educator’s overall performance. The initiative will protect and elevate the careers of professional educators. Effective teachers can move their class through twice the amount of material as ineffective teachers, and it takes three good teachers to erase the effects of one underperformer. The Teach Great Initiative will offer common-sense, research-based solutions to the current problems in our state’s education system – thereby giving Missouri students the world-class education they deserve.

Read the Initiative Petition



Learn More

The TeachGreat initiative would bring meaningful, positive change to Missouri by protecting great teachers and looking out for the best interest of students. We are thankful to have the support of donors like Rex Sinquefield, who understand that Missouri deserves a world-class education system.

Education Reform Supporters Respond to Lawsuit,
Look Forward to Moving Forward with Important Initiative


Jefferson City, Mo. (May 3, 2013) – The Children’s Education Council of Missouri (CECM), one of the advocacy groups supporting the ballot initiative that would improve teacher evaluation systems and educational outcomes, responded this morning to a lawsuit filed by four individuals.

“While we’re disappointed that four people chose to file suit against this forward-thinking initiative, we are confident that the people of Missouri want to see true reform within our schools,” said Kate Casas, State Director for CECM. “Our measure ensures that teachers are evaluated based on students’ academic growth. As is done in other important and respected professions, our teachers deserve to be evaluated based on objective, not subjective, measures.”

The petition would also eliminate the damaging policy of “last in first out,” which jeopardizes the careers of promising young teachers simply because they are newer to the profession.

“We are looking forward to taking this issue to the people of Missouri, and to standing up for what’s right for kids,” added Casas. “If passed, this petition would change our state’s education system for the better by helping students and protecting great teachers.” 

Tenure makes it costly to remove a bad teacher. For example, it costs an average of $250,000 to fire a teacher in New York City. The same thing is happening in Missouri. Schools are spending thousands of dollars on attorney fees to fire incompetent teachers. Every dollar spent on attorney's fees is one not spent on educating Missouri's students.
Currently, when a school has to make budget cuts, the last teachers hired are the ones who are removed, regardless of which teachers are the best at educating students. The proposed measure puts an end to promotion and job retention based solely on seniority and ensures that the best teachers are the ones who are retained.
Teacher tenure requires schools to make long-term spending commitments and prevents districts from being fiscally flexible. Teacher employment contracts generally lack provisions for declining enrollment and economic turmoil.

Be it resolved by the people of the state of Missouri that the Constitution be amended:

Article IX is amended by adopting six new sections to be known as Article IX, Sections 3(d), 3(e), 3(f), 3(g), 3(h), and 3(i), to read as follows:

            Section 3(d). All certificated staff shall be at will employees unless a contract is entered into between a school district and certificated staff (1) prior to the effective date of this section; or (2) pursuant to the provisions of section 3(e), 3(f), and 3(h) of this article.  “Certificated staff,” as used in this article, shall mean employees of a school district who hold a valid certificate to teach in the State of Missouri.

Section 3(e). No school district receiving any state funding or local tax revenue funding shall enter into new contracts having a term or duration in excess of three years with certificated staff.

Section 3(f). Effective beginning July 1, 2015, and notwithstanding any provisions of this constitution, any school district receiving any state funding or local tax revenue shall develop and implement a standards based performance evaluation system approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  The majority of such evaluation system shall be based upon quantifiable student performance data as measured by objective criteria and such evaluation system shall be used in (1) retaining, promoting, demoting, dismissing, removing, discharging and setting compensation for certificated staff; (2) modifying or terminating any contracts with certificated staff; and (3) placing on leave of absence any certificated staff because of a decrease in pupil enrollment, school district reorganization or the financial condition of the school district.

Section 3(g).  Nothing in section 3(f) shall prevent a school district from demoting, removing, discharging, or terminating a contract with certificated staff for one or more of the following causes: (1) physical or mental condition unfitting him to instruct or associate with children; (2) immoral conduct; (3) incompetency, inefficiency or insubordination in line of duty; (4) willful or persistent violation of, or failure to obey, state laws or regulations, (5) excessive or unreasonable absence from performance of duties; or (6) conviction of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.

Section 3(h). In any suit to challenge a school district’s decision regarding promotion, demotion, dismissal, removal, discharge, modification or termination of contracts, or setting compensation of certificated staff, except for decisions made for any of the causes listed in Section 3(g) of this Article, the person bringing such suit must establish that the school district failed to properly utilize the standards based performance evaluation system as referenced in Section 3(f) of this Article.

Section 3(i).     Certificated staff shall retain the right to organize and to bargain collectively as provided in article I, section 29 of this Constitution, except with respect to the design and implementation of the performance based evaluation system established in this article, and as otherwise referenced in this article.

Studies across the nation show that fewer than 1% of tenured teachers are dismissed on the basis of performance. Meanwhile, one out of every three students in the U.S. drops out. 

Almost all children, regardless of their socioeconomic status, will be harmed academically by poor teaching. 

The proposed measure will end promotion and job retention based solely on seniority, and ensure that great teaching is rewarded. 

Teachers should be evaluated on their performance, like other professions. It is a matter of treating all workers fairly. 

The current tenure statute is intimidating to school officials and results in weak teachers continuing to work. This prevents great teachers from being hired, and students pay the price.

For example, it can take up to 335 Days to remove a tenured teacher in Michigan before the courts get involved.

Nearly nine out of ten school administrators nationwide told a national survey they do not always pursue dismissal of bad teachers because of the costly, time- consuming legal process.

Teacher tenure makes it difficult to remove underperforming teachers due to regulatory and political red tape. The process involves months of legal wrangling by the principal, the school board, the union, and the courts.

The data on why great teachers matter and why we should support and reward great teaching.

Media Room

Great teachers matter and the data shows we should support and reward great teaching. Take a look at the video from Student's First that outlines just how great teachers make a huge impact on education.

Kate Casas

State Policy Director of the Children’s Education Council of Missouri

CECM is supporting the TeachGreat.org Initiative Petition because it will move Missouri one step closer to recognizing the teachers who are doing for Missouri's students what Mrs. Mason did for my classmates and me. I know change is hard, I know teachers and administrators, and maybe even some parents are concerned about overhauling a system that has been in place for decades, but I also know that our current system is broken. Missouri's educators and students deserve a system of accountability that rewards educators who can meet every child where they are and move them forward.



On Friday, March 15, 2013, an initiative petition that would ensure that a majority of Missouri’s educator evaluations are based on student growth and that personnel decisions would be based on those evaluations was filed with the Missouri Secretary of State by TeachGreat.org, a political action committee that is dedicated to ensuring every Missouri child has a great educator. The Children’s Education Council of Missouri is pleased to announce its unequivocal support for this measure and is honored to be partnering with the TeachGreat.org coalition to reform how Missouri’s educators are hired, retained, compensated and evaluated.

“It is well past time for Missouri to begin evaluating, compensating, recruiting and retaining educators in the same way we do other respected professions,” said Kate Casas, State Director of the Children’s Education Council of Missouri. “Missouri’s students and educators deserve these reforms, need these reforms and we are really excited to join this coalition to promote these reforms.”

About The Children’s Education Council of Missouri-

The CECM supports and advocates for policies that encourage access to high quality educational options for all Missouri students, including those who do not succeed in a traditional academic setting. See more here.