- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A ballot initiative seeking to link teachers’ jobs to their students’ performance survived another court challenge Thursday as an appeals panel rejected an attempt to knock it off the November ballot.

The panel of judges from the Western District appeals court turned down claims that the measure improperly seeks to amend two parts of the constitution at once and addresses multiple subjects. The decision affirms a ruling earlier this month by a Cole County judge.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 3 would require that schools base personnel decisions on evaluations that rely largely on student performance data. It would bar unions from collectively bargaining over the details of those evaluation systems. The measure also would end tenure protections for newly hired staff by limiting contracts to three years.

A lawsuit financed by public education groups opposed to the measure contended that the restrictions on collective bargaining amounted to a separate subject from the rest of the provisions and effectively amended an existing constitutional provision establishing collective bargaining rights. It argued that the proposal should be declared unconstitutional and stricken from the Nov. 4 ballot.

The appeals panel kept the measure on the ballot. It said the proposal does not amend the fundamental right of collective bargaining and that the various provisions all relate to the central focus of “teacher employment and retention within school districts.”

The Teach Great group sponsoring the initiative has been financed by investment firm founder Rex Sinquefield, the state’s most prominent political donor. But Teach Great recently announced that it won’t be campaigning for the measure, after public opinion polling showed a lack of support.

Education groups say they nonetheless plan to press forward with a campaign against the measure.


Follow David A. Lieb at: https://www.twitter.com/DavidALieb

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