As we enter into the First Regular Session of the 97th General Assembly, some of the most important issues facing us are how we will continue to provide appropriate levels of funding for our schools, properly evaluate teacher performance to make sure our children are receiving the best possible education our tax dollars can provide, placing more emphasis on local control, and encouraging parental involvement.
As I am sure you are aware, last year’s budget request from our Governor called for over $100 million in cuts to higher education. Your Republican majority rejected this cut. Making it more difficult to get an education and/or reducing the quality of education we can provide makes no sense at any time - especially when we are trying to bring high quality, high paying jobs to Missouri and provide an educated workforce to fill those positions. I can assure you, any attempt by our Governor to reduce funding for education in order to pay for his attempts to expand entitlement programs will be thwarted. We need good paying jobs and the knowledge provided by education to fill these positions.
In lockstep with providing a proper education is making sure we have quality teachers able to produce results in the classroom regardless of the obstacles they must overcome. We all know education is the key to a brighter future and taking steps to ensure quality teachers are in our classrooms is a must in the coming months.
Another aspect of improving our education system is enhancing local control within our communities. With such diversity throughout Missouri communities, a single set of educational guidelines will likely not address the needs of every community in Missouri. Increasing local control will help solve this issue and provide educational standards appropriate for the needs of your community.
As always, one of the keys to a child’s educational success is parental involvement. The lack of parental involvement has increasingly become a problem and indeed is a hindrance to our children receiving the best possible education our schools can offer. We must take responsibility as parents to ensure our children are engaged in schoolwork. Just dropping them off at school does not ensure they are learning. We are resolved to find ways to help encourage parental involvement to assist our schools in providing the education our children need.