State Rep. Mike Thomson, a fourth-term lawmaker from Maryville who has built a reputation as a leading advocate for public schools, has been removed from the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education by Speaker Tim Jones, a fellow Republican.
Also getting the boot from the panel was Rep. Elaine Gannon, a Republican from DeSoto.
The reason for the abrupt dismissals was apparently the refusal of Thomson and Gannon to support House Bill 631, legislation that would restrict tenure for public school teachers and increase the impact of students' standardized test scores on teacher performance evaluations.
Both removals came on the same day two other House Republicans were ousted from a fiscal oversight committee for joining Democrats to block a similar education bill from reaching the House floor.
The teacher evaluation/tenure bill is one of Jones' top education priorities but was soundly defeated on the House floor two weeks ago 102-55.
Thomson, who entered politics after retiring from a long career as a teacher, counselor and coach, has long argued that reforms such as those proposed by HB 631 are ineffective, especially in rural settings, and would erode the power of local school boards.
"It is the prerogative of the of the speaker to place people on committees, and of course he can also take them off," Thomson said in a prepared statement. "I don't always agree with some of the initiatives in education that are being pushed at this time, and I will not sacrifice my values or misrepresent my schools and my constituents by supporting issues that I believe are not good for education or for the schools of Missouri.
"I will continue to support public education, and do what I can to help give them the resources and the tools they need to be successful."
Thomson's other committee assignments remain intact, and he continues to serve as chairman of the House higher education panel. Additional assignments include the Joint Committee on Education, the appropriations/education committee, the appropriations/infrastructure-job creation committee, and the budget committee.