What the new amendments could look like for Missouri
On Nov. 4, Amendments 2 and 10 passed while Amendments 3 and 6 failed.
Nov. 12, 2014
The Missouri Constitution will look different after the Nov. 4 midterm elections. Amendments 3 and 6 did not pass, while Amendments 2 and 10 did.
Amendment 3, the Missouri Teacher Performance Evaluation Amendment, did not pass. It was a highly controversial amendment, and members of the Columbia public school system said they were relieved to hear it had not been approved.
The Columbia Public Schools Board of Education had even created a resolution against it.
“In our September work session, we voted unanimously on a resolution in opposition to Amendment 3,” Board of Education President Christine King said. “We did not support it and were happy that it did not pass.”
Jan Mees, a member of the Board of Education and the Chair of Columbia Public Schools Student Performance Committee, explained why the board did not support the amendment.
“I think that if the amendment had passed, it would have put an unrealistic pressure on teachers, perhaps even affecting which schools or types of classes — AP versus basic classes — they would want to teach in, “ Mees said. “There could have been more pressure on students, too, to always ‘beware’ of the test, creating a lot more anxiety.”
Mees also felt that the amendment would have led to an increase in teachers “teaching to the test.”
“Teachers do have to always have their students ready to take any kind of test, be it a local district assessment or a national achievement test,” Mees said. “There are always benchmarks that teachers want their students to achieve. But, this high-stakes testing might have narrowed a teacher's focus to ensure that those test items were more thoroughly covered at the expense of neglecting other equally important aspects of a particular subject.”
Mees said she also felt that the amendment was not an appropriate way to improve teachers and students, as it was too constraining.
“There is a great need for accountability on both the part of teachers and students,” Mees said. “Making one test be the bellwether for the teacher's performance rating was unrealistic and narrow-minded. This particular amendment was not the ideal way to try to raise achievement and/or judge teachers.”
MU students felt the same way. MU sophomore Marleigh Anderson said she was more eager to vote because the amendment was included on the ballot.
“I did not want it to pass,” Anderson said. “My mom is a teacher, and I already think that standardized testing is regulated way too much. I think it’s already too numbers-based, and so I would be really hesitant for it to go more that way.”
Mike Sickels, doctoral candidate in sociology, said he found fault with the details of the amendment as well, which would have limited union representation in the evaluation process.
The other amendments that were included on the ballot were Amendment 2, or the Missouri Evidence in Sexual Crimes Against Minors Amendment; Amendment 6, the Missouri Early Voting Period Amendment; and Amendment 10, The Missouri Gubernatorial Budgetary Recommendations Amendment.
Amendment 2, which passed, was also a controversial amendment, as the wording on the ballot had been very vague and open to interpretation. The wording on the ballot stated, “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that it will be permissible to allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under 18 years of age?”
Freshman Zach Tallevast said he is worried about the potential to allow evidence of past crimes in which a defendant had been accused but found innocent. The amendment did not require evidence of a past conviction, only a past crime and that distinction was key for dissidents. His worry was that someone could be effectively tried for the same crime twice.
“I personally do not support it because it could set a precedent for the future for other cases that don’t involve sexual crimes,” Tallevast said. “Even though you were found innocent in a previous case, that case can be brought back up.”
Amendment 10, which passed, limits the power of the governor in regards to recommendations for the budget.
Sickels said he was wary of the potentially lurking motives of the amendment.
“I voted against it, not because I don’t think that the Governor should have a check in place to make sure that he is spending money appropriately, but that I think that it was written specifically by a Republican congress to be able to limit the power of a Democratic governor,” Sickels said. “I think it had more of a political motive than an actual governance motive.”
Amendment 6 was defeated, which would have created an early voting period of six business days in an effort to encourage higher voter turnout. Voters such as Anderson said they felt that this type of early voting period would not have accomplished its goals of bringing voters out to the polls.
“Based on what I gathered beforehand, I’m not convinced that it actually would have increased voter participation,” Anderson said. “I think that’s a very good example of one (law) that you don’t need to amend a constitution for. I’m glad it didn’t pass. I don’t think it would have been effective.”