Gov. Holden announces education proposal in St. Louis

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Associated Press WriterST. LOUIS (AP) -- Gov. Bob Holden on Tuesday said he wants the state ask more of its failing pubic schools.

Underperforming elementary and secondary schools would have to give the state specific strategies for improvement under a proposal unveiled by Holden during an appearance at Riverview Gardens High School. State money would be withheld until each school submits a plan that meets state approval.

That strategy must require certain kinds of professional development for teachers and administrators, who would not be eligible for raises until those requirements are met.

"We've all talked about accountability," Holden said. "We've all to some extent kind of danced around accountability. But no more."

Under the proposal, which the governor is asking the legislature to approve next session, certain schools would be deemed "priority" schools. That class would include:

-- all schools in districts that are unaccredited, such as Kansas City.

-- all schools in districts that are provisionally accredited, such as St. Louis and 34 other rural and suburban districts across Missouri.

-- individual schools in accredited districts that fail to meet at least one performance standard measured by Missouri Assessment Program tests.

Those schools would have to give the state what Holden called an "accountability compliance statement" along with the usual school improvement plan. Each plan would identify problem areas within the school and lay out a specific strategy to fix those problems, Holden said.

The strategy must require teachers and administrators to complete certain professional development requirements. Holden's proposal outlines the options those educators would have, or else not qualify for salary increases.

It was not clear Tuesday morning whether teachers' groups would endorse Holden's plan. Those groups in the past have opposed strict state requirements on certification or other means of professional development.

"I guess the concern I have right now is teachers will leave these low-performing school districts to avoid the hurdles," said Mike Wood, a lobbyist for the Missouri State Teachers Association.

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