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Everything listed under: Education Policy

  • Missouri Legislature 2015 Wrap-Up Post

     

    The First Regular Session of the 98th Missouri General Assembly ended on May 15th. During the 4.5-month-long session, a number of bills affecting Missouri public schools were the subjects of debate. From budgets to bullying to school transfer law, here’s a summary of the biggest education-related bills of the session.

    State Budget Approval & the Foundation Formula
    Congress passed the state’s Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget. The budget, which will go into effect July 1st, includes an $84 million increase in funding for the Foundation Formula. Despite the increase, the Formula remains under-funded by more than $440 million.

    Learn more: Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula

    Supplemental Budget Approval
    The state’s supplemental budget bill, which helps cover unexpected expenses in the current year, was passed during the legislative session. The bill allocated $3.78 million to K-12 schools and $3.4 million to early childhood special education programs.

    A+ Funding for Illegal Immigrants
    Legislators passed a bill that will exclude illegal immigrants from qualifying for Missouri A+ Program scholarship funding. The bill was designed to ensure that residents have state scholarship funding priority. Opponents of the bill are concerned that students brought to the United States as children are being punished unfairly and prevented from achieving higher education goals. (Source)

    Learn more: Missouri’s A+ Program Benefits Thousands Each Year

    Higher Education Funding
    HB3 increases funding for Missouri’s public higher education institutions by $12 million. The bill was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.

    School Transfers
    Legislature passed a school transfer bill (HB42) that opponents hope will be vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon. The bill, which would expand charter and virtual schools in the state, would also affect accreditation and school transfer.

    Under the bill, individual schools — not entire school districts — would earn accreditation. Students would be able to transfer from a failing school to an accredited school in their home districts. If an accredited school doesn’t exist in the student’s district, the student could still transfer outside the district.

    Failing schools would still be required to pay tuition and transportation costs for transfer students. The bill placed no limits on the cost of tuition charged by receiving districts. (Source)

    Learn more: School Transfer: An Expensive Law for Struggling Schools

    Day Care Bill
    SB341, which was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, requires day care centers to establish safe sleep policies and to disclose registration of unvaccinated children. The bill also establishes reporting procedures for juveniles with sexual behavior issues. (Source)

    Bullying
    A prominent anti-bullying bill didn’t survive the session. HB458 would have made school anti-bullying policy requirements stricter. The bill defined bullying and cyber bullying, and called for schools to play a more active role in suicide prevention. Many schools already have already enacted written anti-bullying policies on their own, but the bill would have legally required them to do so. (Source)

    Learn more: Bullying in Schools: How Adults Can Help

    A New President for the State Board of Education
    Unrelated to lawmaking, but coinciding with the legislative session, the State Board of Education elected a new president, Charlie Shields of St. Joseph, to replace former president Peter Herschend. Shields is the Chief Operating Officer at Truman Medical Centers, and served 20 years in the Missouri General Assembly. (Source)

    Missouri Parent is a free service for all Missouri parents and others who have an interest in public education. We aim to provide accurate and timely information on education funding and legislative issues that impact public education.

    To continue to learn about policies affecting your child’s Missouri public school education, bookmark Missouri Parent News and connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.


  • What Does the Missouri Board of Education Do?

     

    The Missouri State Board of Education supervises instruction in the state’s public schools from preschool through higher education and adult education. The Board, which was established by Article IX, Section 2a of the Missouri Constitution, has many responsibilities.

    Its role includes, but is not limited to:

    · Appointing the State Commissioner of Education
    · Setting the policies for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)
    · Defining academic performance standards and assessments.
    · Accrediting local school districts through the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP).
    · Operating Missouri State Schools, and
    · Submitting budget recommendations for education to the Missouri Legislature.
    (Source)

    All of the Board of Education’s duties are critical ones for Missouri’s public schools. Accreditation, performance standards, and budgets are some of the biggest categories of educational responsibility in the State of Missouri.

    So when board members’ decisions affect our students, schools, and districts so universally, it’s important to understand more about the Board. How are Board members appointed? How long do they serve? What kinds of credentials do they need to have?

    Who Sits on the Missouri Board of Education?

    There are eight members of the Missouri Board of Education, each of whom serves an eight-year term. The Governor appoints the board’s members, and the State Senate confirms them. The members’ terms are staggered so that only one member’s term expires each year.

    Members must represent more than one political party; no more than four members can belong to the same party. Additionally, each member of the board must come from a different county or congressional district to ensure that a broad range of geographic perspectives is considered in decision-making.

    Board members have a range of professional backgrounds ranging from education to business to politics, and many have served on local school boards for years — or even decades — before being appointed to the State Board of Education.

    You can read more about the Missouri State Board of Education on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Website. You can also find Board meeting agendas and minutes, a Board meeting schedule, and information about Missouri’s Commissioner of Education.

    Missouri Parent is here to help you navigate the intersection of education, policy and parenting. Bookmark Missouri Parent News or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily update on legislative and funding issues facing Missouri’s K-12 public schools.


  • The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Isn’t a Game. Or Is It?

     

    U.S. Congress has been trying to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) all year, but it still hasn’t passed. It turns out that the ESEA isn’t the only bill to get hung up in federal congressional debate; only 1% of bills that go through U.S. Congress pass.

    Learn More About ESEA: What Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Is

    The Reauthorization of the ESEA shouldn’t be a political game, but it sometimes seems as though Congress treats it like one. To draw attention to the ESEA, and to help advocate for its reauthorization, EducationWeek.com published an online game called, “Can You Beat The Legislative Odds and Get Your Bill Passed?”

    The game uses multiple choice questions to guide you through a sort of “choose your own adventure” storyline. The goal: to have your bill passed by Congress and signed off on by the President. The catch: you have to be politically savvy to push the bill from a big idea to a real-life law. You can try your hand at the political gamut here

    .

    According to Education Week and the Sunlight Foundation, members of Congress introduced 5,584 bills in 2013, and only 15 Senate bills and 41 House bills were passed into law.

    Read more about the federal legislative process, and about why education bills can take so long to make their way through Congress and to the President’s desk in this story on the Education Week Blog.

    Learn more about education policy and legislation by bookmarking Missouri Parent News. You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

     

  • Free and Appropriate Public Education: What Does It Mean?

     

    There are hundreds, if not thousands, of acronyms floating around the education world. One of those acronyms is more important than others, though, especially for families whose children fall under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA. That acronym is FAPE, and it stands for Free and Appropriate Public Education.

    A free and appropriate public education (FAPE) is an education that is paid for by the public — not by individual families. It’s designed to meet the child’s unique needs as stated in his or her IEP. A FAPE is available as part of the normal public education system in each community. It also prepares the child for whatever is appropriate for them; the next level of education, job, and life as an adult.

    Every child in the state of Missouri who qualifies for IDEA also qualifies for FAPE. It doesn’t matter how small the child’s school or how limited the district’ resources, it’s still the school’s legal requirement to provide a free, adequate education to every child.

    FAPE doesn’t mean that students under IDEA get a better education that kids who don’t qualify for IDEA. It means that the law requires schools to provide an equal education to disabled students as it does to other students. Missouri public schools must prepare disabled students for college, employment, and adult living just like they prepares every other Missouri public school student.

    A common misperception about IDEA and FAPE is that a FAPE entitles disabled students to everything related to their education absolutely free. In reality, students who qualify under IDEA still have to pay for the same supplies, extracurricular costs, club memberships, and all of the other incidental educational expenses that every other child in public schools has to pay.

    Do you think you’ve got your mind wrapped around the concept of a free and adequate public education for Missouri’s disabled students? Take this quiz to test your knowledge.

    Learn more about K-12 public school education in Missouri by connecting with Missouri Parent on Facebook on Twitter, where we share daily updates on all things education. Be sure to bookmark Missouri Parent News — a single destination for news about schools and education issues across the state.


  • What Is an Individualized Education Plan?

     

    The federal government requires that all students who qualify under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have a written plan for success that teachers, parents, and other service providers follow. That plan, called an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, defines the student’s unique learning objectives, and it explains any special services the child might need to succeed in school.

    Not all students who have an IEP fall under IDEA, however. In many cases, IEPs are created for student who have special academic or medical needs, but who don’t have a disability. A child with a medical condition or who isn’t performing at grade level might have an IEP, just a child would who has a disability.

    What’s the Purpose of an IEP?

    An IEP is designed to help children with disabilities and other special needs to attain their unique educational goals. The IEP’s purpose is to support student achievement and well-being. The IEP doesn’t just exist for the student’s benefit, though. The IEP also exists to help teachers and service providers to understand and adapt to the student’s disability or special needs.

    Parents play an important role in developing their child’s IEPs. They’re involved in creating the IEP, and they give final signoff on the IEP. According to the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri, parents should remain active in their child’s IEP from creation through implementation:

    “The principal is ultimately responsible to ensure that the IEP is being implemented. Parent are encouraged to work with teachers to ensure that children’s needs are being met both at home and at school.” (Source)

    The Children’s Education Alliance offers a free, extremely helpful, 20-page downloadable PDF called, “What Every Parent Needs to Know About Individualized Education Plans.” The document details exactly what Missouri public school parents should expect their child’s IEP to contain, suggestions on how to be prepared and involved in the IEP process, and more.

    Learn more about Missouri’s K-12 public schools by connecting with Missouri Parent on Facebook, on Twitter, where we share daily updates on all things education. And be sure to bookmark Missouri Parent News — a single destination for news about schools and education issues across the state.


  • Tools to Use: The Missouri General Assembly Roster

     

    The Missouri General Assembly Roster, published by the Secretary of State’s office, is your go-to legislative resource as a Missouri citizen. Like the Yellow Pages of state elected officials, the Roster includes lists of every elected official — and their contact information — in the State of Missouri.

    The Roster includes the names, photos, phone numbers and email addresses of Missouri’s State Senators, State Representatives, U.S. Representatives, and U.S. Senators. The Roster also includes the names, photos, and phone numbers of Missouri’s Executive Officers.

    The Roster includes other helpful information, such as:
    · Standing and Special Committees Lists
    · Contact Information for Elected Official Staff Offices
    · Names & Contact Information for State Executive Officers
    · Map of Missouri’s Federal Congressional Districts
    · Map of Missouri House Districts
    · Map of Missouri Senatorial Districts
    · Missouri General Assembly Schedules

    The Missouri General Assembly Roster is a tool you can use to better-understand who represents your family when important school finance and policy issues arise. With the Roster, you can easily find — and communicate with — each of your state and federal elected officials.

    Go Deeper: Find and Contact Your Missouri Legislators Digitally

    Was this post helpful? It’s part of an ongoing series called Tools to Use that highlights educational, legislative, and funding tools that helps Missouri public school parents navigate policy and funding issues in the state.

    See What the Legislature is Working On: Follow the #MoLeg hashtag

    For regular updates that provide a greater understanding of the public education system, bookmark Missouri Parent News or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. Share our Tools to Use posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdTools.


  • School Transfer: An Expensive Law for Struggling Schools

     

    Missouri’s School Transfer Law allows students who live in an unaccredited Missouri school district to attend school in an accredited district. When students transfer under the law, their home district (the failing district) is required to pay for their transportation to and tuition for the accredited school they’ll attend. This is an expensive an unsustainable solution for struggling schools.

    An Expensive Solution
    School transfers are expensive for the unaccredited district. In 2013, when both the Normandy and Riverview Gardens in St. Louis County were deemed unaccredited, more than 2,000 students transferred.

    While state lawmakers have proposed changes to the School Transfer Law, the law — in its current form — is an unsustainable one for unaccredited districts. Tuition alone cost between $7,000 and $21,000 per student for Normandy and Riverview Gardens. That means that the two districts spent more than $14 million just on tuition — an expense that threatened to send Normandy into bankruptcy. (Source)

    Learn More: Riverview Gardens Struggling as Result of School Transfers

    An Unsustainable Solution
    While the school transfer law helps the individual students who transfer out of struggling schools into successful ones, the transfer law doesn’t solve the larger problems facing failing schools. In fact, it just drains money away from schools that are already having a hard time maintaining infrastructure, providing students with quality resources, and hiring and retaining good teachers.

    This 2014 news story on STLToday.com opened by saying that Normandy School District was “buckling under the financial weight of Missouri’s school transfer law.”

    More recently, Normandy estimated that if more than 530 students transfer to accredited districts, “the cost of their tuition and in some cases their transportation could cause Normandy to go broke.” (Source)

    Selling Assets to Stay Afloat
    The sale of unused school district property is one of Normandy’s only saving graces. Beyond Housing, a nonprofit organization purchased seven empty schools and an early childhood center from Normandy last year, giving it a brief influx of funds.

    Profits from those sales have helped Normandy to remain operational, but how much longer can the district survive on this trajectory? How can lawmakers stand by while thousands of St. Louis public school students risk losing their local public school district entirely?

    Selling off assets and paying to send students to accredited schools isn’t a sustainable solution for Normandy, and it won’t be a strong solution for other Missouri schools that face lost accreditation in future years, either.

    Students Deserve a Quality Education at Home
    Missouri’s public school students deserve a high quality education in their own local public schools. The school transfer law helps some of the students in each unaccredited district, but for every student the law helps right now, it harms dozen more in the long run.

    As STLToday.com said, “the situation gives opportunity to about 430 Normandy children now in higher performing schools, but at the expense of the 3,500 who stayed.”

    That’s the risk of the school transfer law: its unreasonably expensive for local districts, and as a result, it’s not a sustainable way for our legislature to address lost accreditation. Struggling schools need to be made stronger by education policy. Instead, our state’s school transfer law is threatening to run them into the ground.

    Learn more about Missouri education policy and funding issues by bookmarking the Missouri Parent Blog. Get daily news updates from Missouri Parent News, and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for timely information about state and local education policy.



  • Missouri Education Advocates: Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA)

     

    Name: Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA)

    About: The MSHSAA is a nonprofit educational organization made up of approximately 750 public and private member schools in Missouri. The organization sets eligibility requirements for school sports and activities ranging from softball to speech and debate.

    The MSHSAA’s philosophy is that interscholastic activities and sports supplement the secondary school curriculum, helping them to become better citizens.

    MSHSAA sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, field hockey, 11-man football, 8-man football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo, and wrestling.

    MSHSAA activities include bass fishing, bowling, chess, music activities, scholar bowl, speech and debate, spirit activities, and target shooting.

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    In addition to regulating interscholastic activities and student eligibility, the MSHSAA is responsible for the registration of contest officials for interscholastic competitions. MSHSAA member schools must use MSHSAA contest officials for their activities and sporting events.

    The mission of the MSHSAA is to promote “the value of participation, sportsmanship, team play, and personal excellence to develop citizens who make positive contributions to their community and support the democratic principles of our state and nation.” (Source)

    President & Executive Director:
    The MSHSAA Board President is Ken Eaton
    The MSHSAA Executive Director is Dr. Kerwin Urhahn

    Employees & Board:
    MSHSAA employs ten people. You can find a staff list, including short job descriptions here. This page provides a list of MSHSAA’s current Board of Directors.

    Website: http://www.MSHSAA.org/

    Social Media Sites:
    MSHSAA’s Communications Director, Jason West, on Twitter
    MSHSAA on Facebook

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.




  • #MissouriMath: The School Transfer Law

    Missouri’s School Transfer Law allows students who live in an unaccredited school district to attend school in an accredited district. When students transfer, their home district (the failing district) is required to pay for their transportation to and tuition for the accredited school they’ll attend.

    Learn More: Understanding Missouri’s School Transfer Law

    School transfers are expensive for the unaccredited district. In 2013, when both the Normandy and Riverview Gardens in St. Louis County were deemed unaccredited, more than 2,000 students transferred.

    While state lawmakers have proposed changes to the School Transfer Law, the law — in its current form — is an expensive one for unaccredited districts and profitable for receiving districts.

    Tuition alone cost between $7,000 and $21,000 per student for Normandy and Riverview Gardens in 2013. That means that the two districts spent more than $14 million just on tuition — an expense that threatened to send Normandy into bankruptcy. (Source)

    Learn More: Riverview Gardens Struggling as Result of School Transfers

    Representative Clem Smith (D – Velda Village Hills) told STLToday.com that, “getting a transfer kid is like hitting the lottery. Order a few more lunches, but whatever money (transfers) brings in, you absorb that into your budget.” (Source)

    The total number of transfer students in Normandy and Riverview Gardens fell to around 1,000 in 2014, but the costs to those districts still is still taking its toll. Normandy’s superintendent Charles Pearson, told STLToday.com that the district is operating “on a survival budget” when it should be focused on improving instruction. (Source)

    Missouri Parent agrees with Pearson that education money should be invested in education, not in transportation and tuition. When the cost of tuition and transportation for an individual student to attend a different school exceeds the state’s average per-pupil expenditure (PPE), it’s just not sustainable.

    Instead of spending taxpayer dollars paying for tuition and transportation, Missouri Parent believes that the state should invest that money directly in rebuilding Missouri’s unaccredited schools. The Missouri School Transfer law is an example of #MissouriMath that just doesn’t add up.

    Stay up to date on legislative and funding issues affecting your child’s K-12 public school education in Missouri by bookmarking Missouri Parent News. Get daily updates on policy, education, and more by connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter.



  • Missouri Education Advocates: Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA)

       

    Name: Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA)

    About: MSTA is a grassroots organization made up of local Community Teachers Associations (CTA) in each local school district, reflecting MSTA’s strong commitment to local control. Members set the policy of and priorities of MSTA to meet the needs of Missouri educators. The organization was founded in 1856, and provides services and benefits to its more than 45,000 members.

    Employees: You can find a full contact list for the MSTA headquarters here.

    President: Stacy Williamson

    Website: http://www.MSTA.org

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Social Media Sites:
    The MSTA Blog
    MSTA on Facebook
    Student MSTA on Facebook
    Missouri FTA on Facebook
    MSTA on Twitter
    MSTA on Pinterest
    MSTA on YouTube
    MSTA on Flickr

    Legislation & Advocacy:

    MSTA attends State Board of Education meetings and Public School Retirement System meetings, and it serves as liaisons to governmental agencies. It also “conducts workshops on political issues and involvement”. (Source)

    The organization endorses candidates for the Missouri legislature, and “MSTA’s government relations department delivers testimony on MSTA’s legislative platform,” according to MSTA’s website.

    MSTA publishes a weekly MSTA Action newsletter during the legislative session, explaining its position on featured pieces of Missouri state legislation. You can find archives of all MSTA Action newsletters here.

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.



  • Understanding Missouri’s School Transfer Law

     

    Lawmakers in Jefferson City have proposed changes to a controversial and expensive law that enables students in unaccredited school districts to attend school in a fully accredited district, instead. To help you follow these conversations in the capital, today’s post on the Missouri Parent Blog explains what the School Transfer Law is, and what a few popular perspectives are surrounding it.

    The Missouri School Transfer Law says that students who live in an unaccredited school district can transfer to an accredited school district in the same county or in an adjacent county at no charge to their own families. The costs associated with the school transfer, including transportation and tuition, are the responsibility of the home school district (the unaccredited district).

    The School Transfer Law was created in 1993, and has been viewed as a blessing to some families and a frustration to others. Perspectives on the School Transfer Law run the gamut:

    Some families see the law as a reflection of their child’s right to a high quality public education — if their own school cannot provide it, then the child should be allowed to attend school in a district that can. It is not a child’s fault if his or her school district loses accreditation. Every child — even those in a struggling district — has an equal right to earn a quality public education in Missouri.

    Other families are concerned that the accredited school districts (called “receiving districts”) cannot handle the large influxes they see of students from outside districts. Logistically, the transfer law can pose a challenge for receiving districts, and parents who live in receiving districts have expressed concern about the educational standards in those districts being lowered to meet the academic abilities of transfer students from failing districts.

    Parents in accredited districts often feel that they chose their district (and pay property taxes in their district) so that their children can attend high quality public schools. It feels unfair to those families to have children from unaccredited districts in their child’s school without living in the community or paying local taxes to support the local education system.

    Another prominent perspective on the School Transfer Law is that it drains resources out of already-struggling school district, making it even more difficult for unaccredited districts to succeed. Rather than spend millions of dollars each year on transportation and tuition in another district, goes this line of thinking, that money should be invested directly into making the unaccredited school district stronger.

    Missouri Parent believes that the School Transfer Law is an expensive policy that compounds existing problems — especially budget issues — in struggling districts. Our belief is that the money invested in transportation and tuition should be infused back into local schools, giving them the resources they need to succeed.

    We want to hear from you, though: What do you think about the Missouri School Transfer Law? Have your children benefited from it? Has your home school district struggled as a result of the law? What do you think of the discussions happening in Jefferson City that could result in changes to the existing School Transfer Law?

    Our goals include sharing relevant and timely policy and funding information with Missouri parents, and helping you — parents of Missouri public school students — to support your child in his or her public school career. We hope you’ll leave a comment on the Blog or on our Facebook Page, and that you’ll connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.



  • Missouri Education Advocates: Missouri School Leaders

     

    Name: Missouri School Leaders: the Online Hub of the Missouri School Administrators Coalition

    About: Missouri School Leaders is provided by and paid for by the Missouri School Administrators Coalition (MSCA), which is the umbrella organization for two autonomous statewide professional associations of public school administrators: The Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) and the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP)

    The organization is committed to building a broad coalition of parents, students, teachers, board members, business owners, and individuals that are committed to bettering the public schools in the state of Missouri.(Source)

    Missouri School Leaders helps raise money for Better Schools for Missouri (formerly MSAPAC), which aims to elect officials in Missouri that “share the value of quality public education.” (Source)

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Member Organizations:
    Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals
    Missouri State High School Athletics Association (MSHSAA)
    Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP)
    Missouri Association of Rural Education (MARE)
    Missouri K-8 Schools Association (MO-K8)
    Missouri Association of School Business Officials (MoASBO)
    Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA)
    Missouri United School Insurance Council (MUSIC)
    Missouri Council of Administrators of Special Education (MO-CASE)

    Employees: For a full list of staff, click here.

    Website: http://MOSchoolLeaders.org/

    Social Media Sites:
    Missouri School Leaders on Twitter

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    Missouri School Leaders Issues

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.



  • Missouri Education Advocates: Missouri Retired Teachers Association (MRTA)

     

    Name: Missouri Retired Teachers Association (MRTA)

    About: MRTA is an association of retired educators whose purpose is to promote the professional, social and economic welfare of all retired school employees. The organization an independent, non-partisan, 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation with a statewide membership of more than 23,000 people.

    Membership is open to retired teachers of public, private, and parochial schools, and to administrators, supervisors, retired school employees, and non-certified personnel who have worked in educational programs, governesses, and tutors. Spouses of members, active teachers and others interested in education may become associate members without the right to vote, hold office or represent the Association.

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    The MRTA Mission: The Missouri Retired Teachers Association and Public School Personnel organized in 1960 is the only educational organization in Missouri working exclusively for retired school personnel. MRTA will work actively with government and its entities for beneficial legislation. We shall strive to increase membership until all retirees become members, and always foster good fellowship. We will encourage members to be involved in community affairs and work for worthy educational causes. Our mission is to serve and not to be served. (Source)

    Number of Employees: 5
    (See a full list of MRTA’s office staff.)

    Executive Director: Jim Kreider

    Website: http://MissouriRetiredTeachers.org/

    Social Media Sites:
    MRTA on Facebook
    MRTA on YouTube

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    2015 Legislative Platform
    2015 Legislative Committee Purpose & Duties

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.


  • Missouri Education Advocates: The Missouri National Education Association (MNEA)

     

    Name: The Missouri National Education Association (MNEA)

    About: MNEA is a professional membership organization serving 35,000 Missouri teachers, librarians, counselors, coaches, school psychologists and psychiatrists, administrators, and college and university faculty. Any school employee, including bus drivers, cooks, nurses, and secretaries, can join MNEA.

    MNEA advocates for “public schools, public school students and public school employees,” and offers a variety of services including legal programs, special events, public relations campaigns, professional development, legislative work, and more.

    MNEA is affiliated with the National Education Association (NEA). The mission of MNEA is “to serve as the united voice to promote, advance and protect public education and to advocate for the rights and interests of students and our members.” (Source)

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    President: Charles Smith

    Website: http://www.MNEA.org

    Social Media Sites:
    MNEA on Facebook
    MNEA on Flickr
    MNEA on Twitter
    MNEA on YouTube

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    MNEA’s Platform & Priorities
    MNEA’s State Legislative Updates
    The Education Advocate (EA) Daily News
    MNEA Legislative Action Center
    Contact Your State or National Legislator Page
    Political Action Program

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates



  • What Would the Civics Education Initiative Mean for Our Students?

     

    The Civics Education Initiative would require high school students, as a condition of graduation, to pass a test on 100 basic facts of U.S. history and civics, from the U.S. Citizenship Civics Test. (Source)

    It “would require all Missouri high school students to achieve at least a 60 percent score on the United States Citizenship Civics Test in order to graduate and earn a diploma.” General Education Development (GED) candidates would also be required to pass the test. (Source)

    Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and in both the Missouri House and the Missouri Senate have broadly supported the Civics Education Initiative. Proponents have designed the initiative to provide schools and districts with as much flexibility as possible: In addition to administering the test in whatever way the school deems appropriate (10 questions, 100 questions, or some other arrangement), the initiative gives students the freedom to take the civics test at any time during their high school years.

    Schools and districts will also have the flexibility to determine when during junior high and high school students will be presented with civics-related subject matter. The heart of the initiative is to ensure that Missouri students graduate ready to engage as educated and responsible stewards of democracy:

    “The Civics Education Initiative is a fundamental first step toward ensuring all Missouri students understand the basic foundations of our government,” Dan Mehan, with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry said. “Its simple in concept and it ensures that our high school graduates have the basic knowledge necessary for active, engaged citizenship.” (Source)

    The United States Citizenship Civics Test is the same test that immigrants aspiring toward U.S. citizenship must take. It was created by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and it includes 100 questions about American government, history, and integrated civics.

    Prospective U.S. citizens are assigned 10 of those 100 questions at random, but exactly how many questions will be on a Missouri high school student’s test will be determined by individual schools and districts.

    The Civics Education Initiative is an affiliate of the Joe Foss Institute, which was founded to educate American youth on the importance of our country’s unique freedoms, and to inspire them to public service. Joe Foss was a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, former governor of South Dakota, and first commissioner of the American Football League.

    Learn more about the Joe Foss Institute here.

    Bookmark Missouri Parent News today or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates on Missouri education policy and other educational initiatives affecting Missouri’s public school students.


  • Missouri Education Advocates: The Missouri K-8 Schools Association (MOK8)

     

    Name: The Missouri K-8 School Association (MOK8)

    About: The Missouri K-8 Association is a membership organization that represents all K-8 schools in Missouri. It exists to preserve the integrity of K-8 districts by sharing common resources, improving efficiency and expanding opportunities through collaborative efforts. (Source)

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Co-Presidents: Darryl Pannier and Carless Osburn

    Website: http://www.MoK-8.com

    Legislation & Advocacy: MOK8 is concerned about school transfers and unaccredited school districts, and believes in high standards for funding technology and modern tools that support education and curriculum. MOK8 is committed to full funding of the Foundation Formula.

    Read MOK8’s full Legislative Platform here.

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.



  • Missouri Education Advocates: The Missouri Council of Administrators of Special Education (MO-CASE)

    Name: The Missouri Council of Administrators of Special Education (MO-CASE)

    About: MO-CASE is a subdivision of the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE), a division of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). MO-CASE is dedicated to the professional development and support of administrators and supervisors of special education within Missouri’s educational settings.

    MO-CASE provides support and resources to all special education directors in Missouri. MO-CASE achieves its goals through a newsletter, conferences, and scholarships. (Source)

    Purpose: The purpose of MO-CASE is:

    · To promote professional leadership among special educators
    · To promoted the study of issues common to its members
    · To communicate, through discussion and publications, information that will assist in the development of improved services for exceptional children in the state
    · To participate actively in the improvement and the expansion of special education programs in the state (Source)

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    President: Steven Beldin

    Website: http://www.MO-Case.org/

    Social Media Sites: https://www.Facebook.com/MissouriCase

    Legislation & Advocacy: You can read details about MO-CASE’s legislative platform and advocacy perspectives on its website. Here’s a brief summary of each of the organization’s key policy perspectives:

    · MO-CASE opposes school transfer and open enrollment
    · MO-CASE opposes school vouchers
    · MO-CASE supports increased charter school accountability
    · MO-CASE opposes legislation that would mandate student retention
    · MO-CASE generally opposes legislation that singles out discreet disabilities for different treatment within the education system
    · MO-CASE supports legislation that promotes understanding of specific disabilities and provides quality recommendations for improving services to children with those disabilities
    · MO-CASE is concerned about federal and state legislative and policy proposals that would revise teacher evaluation systems, teacher tenure, and establish differentiated compensation (pay for performance)
    · MO-CASE believes that teacher evaluation, tenure and compensation may be based in part on student growth, but not as a majority portion so that other factors become inconsequential.
    · MO-CASE is against corporal punishment in schools
    · MO-CASE supports state policy initiatives that move Missouri toward universally accessible preschool for all children
    · MO-CASE strongly supports mandatory early childhood special education services (ECSE)
    · MO-CASE supports federal legislation that reasonably limits the use of seclusion, restraint and aversive interventions.
    · MO-CASE strongly supports increasing federal and state funding to adequately support the significant special education requirements imposed on schools.

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.



  • What Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Is

     

    No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is always a big topic of conversation in Washington, but now that the policy is more than a decade old, we wonder how many Missouri parents know, in detail, what NCLB is. Here on the MOParent Blog, we’ll break NCLB down into its core components, and next we’ll talk about what each of those components means to our students.

    It’s our goal to keep you informed about legislative and funding issues that affect children in Missouri’s public schools. We hope that this two-part post on No Child Left Behind helps you to better-understand in this important federal educational initiative and the impact it has on Missouri’s K-12 public school students.

    What is No Child Left Behind?
    No Child Left Behind is a federal law that was enacted with bipartisan support as one of the first Congressional initiatives of President George W. Bush in 2001. NCLB is a standards-based education reform initiative that is built “on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education.” (Source)

    NCLB didn’t begin with President Bush, though. It began as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The ESEA was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. President Johnson hoped that ESEA would help close the education gap between the nation’s underserved and vulnerable students and those in better-served, more stable districts and schools.

    When NCLB was passed by Congress in 2001, it was passed as a re-authorization of President Johnson’s ESEA. In other words, NCLB was the new name given to the updated and re-authorized version of a well-established federal education act.

    NCLB isn’t a federally mandated program. In other words, states aren’t formally required to participate in NCLB. NCLB is, however, tied directly to federal funding: schools that wish to receive federal funding must meet NCLB standards. NCLB significantly increased the involvement — albeit the indirect involvement — of the federal government in public education.

    The federal government’s involvement in public education is the source of much of the controversy surrounding NCLB. While the program has the well-meaning intention of closing achievement gaps by ensuring that all American public school students have access to high-quality education, many state and local school leaders and community members believe that education policy should be kept at the state level.

    NCLB calls for states to implement standardized testing in key subject areas, and to provide annual progress updates to the federal government. In addition, schools, districts, and states are required to make annual “Report Cards” publicly accessible to the parents and the larger community. Finally, NCLB requires that core academic area teachers be “highly qualified”. Since NCLB’s passage in 2001 by Congress, the federal education budget has increased from $42.2 billion to $141 billion.

    To learn more about NCLB’s standardized testing, school report cards, teacher qualifications, and funding changes, come back tomorrow to the Missouri Parent Blog. We’ll explain each of these four NCLB policy components, and what each of them means to our public school students.

    This is part one in a two-part post on No Child Left Behind. Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog to learn about how NCLB affects our students, and connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates on Missouri education policy and funding issues.


  • What the No Child Left Behind Policy Means to Our Students

     

    Recently on the Missouri Parent Blog, we wrote about No Child Left Behind (NCLB), explaining what this important federal education policy is. In that post, we explained that schools that wish to receive federal funding must follow NCLB standards for performance and accountability. Today we’ll explain what each of those performance and accountability measures means to our students.

    It’s our goal to keep you informed about legislative and funding issues that affect children in Missouri’s public schools. We hope that this two-part post on No Child Left Behind helps you to better-understand in this important federal educational initiative and the impact it has on Missouri’s K-12 public school students.

    Read Part 1: What the No Child Left Behind Policy Is

    Standardized Testing
    NCLB identifies reading, language arts, mathematics, and science as “core academic subjects”. States seeking federal education funding must develop and implement state assessments in each of those subject areas. There is not a federal achievement standard – instead, each state determines what constitutes achievement in each subject area and grade level.

    What NCLB Means for Our Students: Students are required to take annual state standardized tests in reading, language arts, mathematics, and science in grades 3-8.

    Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)
    Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is one of the ways NCLB measures district accountability. AYP is designed to “ensure that every child learns, every school has the opportunity to improve, and every dollar is spent wisely.” (Source)

    What AYP Means for Our Students: Federal AYP accountability standards reinforce Missouri’s need to give annual standardized tests. Without those tests, Missouri would lose federal NCLB funding. That’s not all though: Schools are identified as successful or failing based on their AYPs. Inadequate AYPs qualify students for school transfers, and persistently low AYPs can result in school closures.

    Report Cards
    NCLB requires states and districts to be transparent about school performance and teacher quality by providing a “report card” to the public.

    What Report Cards Mean for Our Students: NCLB Report Cards give you and your child an idea of your child’s academic progress compared to other students in the school district and the state. NCLB Report Cards also provide information about overall academic achievement in the district and about school safety.

    Find your child’s NCLB District Report Card here.
    Find your child’s School Report Card here.
    Read Missouri’s State Report Card here.

    Teacher Qualifications
    NCLB requires public schools to provide highly qualified teachers to students, specifically in their core academic subject areas (reading, language arts, mathematics, and science). Each state sets its own standards for what it means to be a “highly qualified” teacher.

    What NCLB’s Teacher Qualifications requirements mean to our students: As the parent of a public school student, your child’s school is required by NCLB to notify you if his or her core academic subject area teachers are not considered “highly qualified” by state standards.

    Funding Changes
    Between 2001 and 20014, total federal education funding increased from $42.2 billion to $55.7 billion. In 2014, the federal government allotted approximately $141 billion to education. (Source, Source)

    What NCLB Federal Funding Changes Mean to Our Students: School districts with high concentrations of low-income families benefit more from NCLB than students in higher-income districts. Some of the increase in federal funding was directed toward school technology. Also, students in Title I programs benefit from increased NCLB funding. Finally, Missouri’s special education students have seen an increase in federal funding since the adoption of NCLB through the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have seen an increase in federal funding since the adoption of NCLB.

    This post was the second post in a two-part post on No Child Left Behind. Continue to learn more about funding and legislative issues affecting Missouri students by bookmarking Missouri Parent Blog. You can also connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular Missouri education updates.


  • Missouri Education Advocates: The Missouri Association of School Administrators

     

    Name: The Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA)

    About: The Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) is the only statewide association in Missouri that exists for the purpose of serving the needs of school superintendents and central office administrators with an interest in the superintendency.

    MASA is a statewide professional association that has grown to include over 600 school superintendents and school administrators. In 2013-2014, MASA set an all-time membership record. The services provided by MASA to its membership have also increased as members have identified and approved long-range plans incorporating key services. (Source)

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Statement of Purpose:

    Number of Employees: 4

    Executive Director: Roger Kurtz

    Website: http://www.MASAOnline.org/

    Social Media Sites:
    MO School Leaders on Twitter
    MOParent on Twitter
    MOParent on Facebook

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    MASA Legislative Information
    Missouri Parent*

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates

    *The Missouri Parent program is sponsored by MASA and is its primary advocacy arm.


  • Missouri Education Advocates: The Missouri Association of Rural Education

     

    Name: The Missouri Association of Rural Education (MARE)

    About: MARE recognizes the needs and concerns unique to rural education. It provides a forum for discussion and resolution of those needs and concerns, and presents a voice for rural education in Missouri.

    MARE is made up of teachers, administrators, community members, state education leaders, college and university educators, and more. The organization advocates for rural education, seeking equal and quality education for all rural children in the state.

    MARE offers a number of services including board consulting, building administrator searches, and governmental support. MARE is part of the National Rural Education Association and has been active in Missouri for nearly 30 years.

    Read More About Education in Rural Missouri: How Does Rural Living Affect Your Access to the Internet?

    Statement of Purpose: MARE is a service organization whose purpose is to serve the member schools in such a way that:
    · The students of rural Missouri will have an equal opportunity to receive excellent education.
    · The students of rural Missouri will be able to compete academically with students through the world.
    · The citizens of Missouri will be proud of the educational programs in rural Missouri schools. (Source)

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Number of Employees: 3

    Executive Director: Dr. Ray V. Patrick


    Website: http://www.MOARE.com/

    Social Media Sites:
    National Rural Education Association on Facebook
    National Rural Education Association on Twitter
    National Rural Education Association on YouTube

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    MARE Website’s Advocacy Page
    School Administrators Coalition (SAC) Legislative Updates

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.


  • If You Don't Know Senator Alexander You Need to Read This Post

     

    The national education stage has many prominent players. Among them is Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the Senate education committee chairman. Today we’re here to make sure that if you have a child in a public school in Missouri, you have a clear idea of what’s happening in Washington—and why the name Sen. Lamar Alexander is an important one to know in 2015.

    Sen. Alexander is the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). He served as U.S. Secretary of Education under President George W. Busch from March 1991 to January 1993, and he has served in the U.S. Senate since 2003. Sen. Alexander recently presented a proposal to overhaul and reauthorize No Child Left Behind (NCLB). (Source, Source)

    NCLB is a contentious federal education initiative passed in early 2002 by bipartisan majorities and signed into law by former President George W. Bush. NCLB is not a federally mandated program (states are not legally required to follow NCLB). Federal education funding is tied to a state’s adoption of NCLB, though, so states hoping to receive federal funds must opt-in to NCLB.

    Many believe that NCLB has created systematic federal over-reach. Sen. Alexander is one of them, and his NCLB proposal would shift some of the responsibility of educational policy, accountability, and funding back to individual states.

    As commentator Gary Wisenbaker told Valdosta Today — Sen. Alexander’s NCLB proposal “is grounded” in the concept that states should “handle their own problems in education and schooling.” (Source)

    This EdWeek blog post goes into more detail on Sen. Alexander’s proposed changes to NCLB, but here’s Missouri Parent’s bullet-point list of changes:

    • Standardized testing could change.
    • Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures, school choice, and other federal accountability standards will be replaced with accountability standards developed by each state.
    • The federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) model will go away, and so will many other programs.
    • States would have more flexibility in how they use Title I funds.
    • States would not have to develop teacher evaluation models based on student outcomes.
    • Federal funding for quality teachers could be used in new, more flexible ways.
    • Current “high qualified teacher” provisions would go away.
    • The existed Teacher Inventive Fund would be written into law.
    • States would no longer be required to generate minimum state funding in order to receive federal education money.
    • The U.S. Secretary of Education’s reach and authority over states would be limited.

    Learn More: Read EdWeeks’ full blog post on these changes here.

    These changes are big news for NCLB, which means that they’re big changes for public school students in Missouri. If you still aren’t sure why it’s important to know who Sen. Alexander is, though he said it well himself:

    “The work of no Senatecommitteeaffects the daily lives of more Americans more than this one—whether we are fixing No Child Left Behind, or reducing federal paperwork to make it easier for students to attend college, or making it simpler formedical treatments and cures to make their waythrough the Food and Drug Administrationtopatientswho need the help.” (Source)

    If Sen. Alexander succeeds, states and local school districts will regain control, and the federal government will be able to exercise fewer mandates over them. “Generally speaking,” said Sen. Alexander during a press conference call, “I want these discussions about testing standards, and accountability systems to move back to states and communities, where I think they belong.” (Source)

    Sen. Alexander and his NCLB proposal will continue to lead education news on the national stage over the coming weeks. Bookmark the Missouri Parent News page and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on legislation and funding issues affecting Missouri schools.




  • Live Tweets from Missouri Senate #MoTransfers Hearing

     

  • Missouri Education Advocates: Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

     

    Name: The Missouri Council for Exceptional Children

    About the International Organization: The Council for Exceptional Children is a premier education organization, internationally renowned for its expertise and leadership, working collaboratively with strategic partners to ensure that children and you with exceptionalities are valued and full participating members of society. As a diverse and vibrant professional community, CEC is a trusted voice in shaping education practice and policy. (Source)

    CEC is a professional membership organization for gifted and special education professionals. The organization is international with a local chapter here in Missouri.

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Mission of the Missouri CEC: The purpose of the Missouri Council for Exceptional Children is to advance the education of individuals with exceptionalities and to promote related educational, scientific, and charitable purposes.

    President: Kim Turner

    Website: http://www.MissouriCEC.org/

    Social Media Sites:
    International CEC on Twitter
    International CEC on Facebook
    International CEC on YouTube
    International CEC on Pinterest
    International CEC on LinkedIn

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    CEC works to improve public policy affecting children and youth with disabilities and gifts and talents, their parents, and the professionals who work with them, at all levels of government. You can learn more about CEC’s policy and advocacy work on this page of the international organization’s website.

    The CEC “Policy Insider” is the organization’s weekly news digest that includes news — including policy and advocacy news — to readers.

    To learn more about the specific causes that CEC’s members advocate for, check out the CEC’s “I’m An Advocate” YouTube Playlist.

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.


  • MOParent Presents: The Missouri Education Advocates Series

     

    Missouri Parent is always ready to continue to provide timely information on education funding and legislative issues impacting public education in Missouri. We are not alone in this mission to protect our public schools.

    While the new legislative session is kicking off this month in Jefferson City, we’ll run a new series called “Missouri Education Advocates”. Our goal is to give you a better understanding of which professional education organizations work on public education legislation and advocacy in Missouri.

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Each feature will be short and sweet, highlighting basic information about some of Missouri’s biggest organizations who advocate for public education in the state.

    We will update the list of education organizations as we publish individual posts about them. This ongoing list is below:

    If you would like to see any groups featured or have any questions about how education groups advocate for our schools and students, feel free to contact us at any time.

    Follow Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.


  • Missouri Education Advocates: Better Schools for Missouri

      

    Name: Better Schools for Missouri
    (Formerly called The Missouri School Administrators Political Action Committee)

    About: The organization now known as Better Schools for Missouri was formed in 1991 by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) and the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP) “as a way for supporters of public education to help elect candidates in Missouri that share the value of quality public education” (source)

    At its founding, the organization was named the Missouri School Administrators Political Action Committee. It has since been renamed Better Schools for Missouri.

    Five organizations are sustaining members of Better Schools for Missouri:
    The Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA)*
    The Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP)
    The Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP)
    The Missouri Council of Career and Technical Administrators (MCCTA)
    The Missouri Association of School Business Officials (MoASBO)

    Purpose: To support candidates for statewide and legislative offices who advance the legislative goals of the member organizations, and to promote statewide legislative issues that will further the cause of elementary and secondary education.

    Website: http://BetterSchoolsfFrMissouri.com/

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    According to the Better Schools for Missouri website:
    “Together, over the past years, we have accomplished a great deal through our lobbying and political action efforts. But our job is not done. In the next few years, school administrators must unite to face a number of legislative challenges including:

    1. Protecting the public schools against utilization of public funds for non-public education purposes such as tuition tax credits/vouchers.
    2. Working to maintain local control of education policies and finances to ensure that districts have the ability to make decisions that best meet their individual needs, including decisions regarding when school will start and setting priorities for the expenditure of school district funds.
    3. Working to maintain a residency requirement for student attendance and educating legislators regarding the need for the requirement.
    4. Changing the perception of some legislators that school administration costs are too high and that school administrators are overpaid.
    5. Working to avoid further erosion or diversion of our local property tax base.
    6.Monitoring the implementation of the new foundation formula to ensure that full funding is provided and necessary revisions are made.
    7. Working to maintain the fiscal stability of our “Public School Retirement System” (PSRS) and to ensure that all present member benefits are not eroded.
    8. Working with our national associations and congressional delegation to obtain mandatory federal funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and to ensure needed improvements are enacted for the No Child Left Behind law.”

    (Source)

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates”, which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    *MASA is also the sponsoring organization of the Missouri Parent program.

     

  • Missouri Education Advocates: AFT-Missouri

     

    Name: American Federation of Teachers, Missouri Chapter (AFT-Missouri)

    About: The American Federation of Teachers, ALF-CIO is national organization. AFT-Missouri is Missouri’s local AFT union.

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Mission: The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.

    Number of Employees: 2

    President: Kelly McClendon

    Website: http://mo.aft.org/

    Social Media Sites:
    National AFT on Facebook
    National AFT on Twitter

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    National Legislative Action Center
    Missouri AFT Legislation

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates”, which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.


  • Missouri Legislature Appoints New Leaders for Education

     

    With the reorganization of the 98th Missouri General Assembly, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro-Tem have appointed committee chairs, made committee assignments, and even restructured several legislative committees. The committee chairs with a direct leadership role in public education and funding are as follows:

    · Representative Tom Flanigan (R-Joplin), House Budget Chair
    · Representative Kurt Bahr (R-O’Fallon), Regular Standing Committee on Appropriations- Elementary and Secondary Education
    · Representative Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton), Regular Standing Committee on Children and Families
    · Representative Lyle Rowland (R-Cedarcreek), Regular Standing Committee on Emerging Issues in Education
    · Representative Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe), Select Standing Committee on Education
    · Representative Kathy Swan (R-Cape Girardeau) Regular Standing Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education
    · Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Appropriations
    · Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), Education

    We congratulate all of these leaders on their appointments and look forward to their efforts for public education in Missouri.


  • The Missouri Legislature Begins Anew

     

     

    January 2014 marked the beginning of another session of the Missouri Legislature. This is the First Regular Session of the 98th General Assembly.

    As the Missouri Parent project also exists to inform our audience of public policy issues which impact public education in our state, you will begin to see more content published here and shared across our social media about the activities of our elected officials.

    We would like to share a couple general pieces of information you may find helpful as the session works its way towards completion in May.

    • You can find contact information, listen to live floor debate, and follow the progress of legislation through the Missouri General Assembly website. Additionally, The Missouri Senate and the Missouri House of Representatives have their own websites with these functions.

    • There are several committees in the legislature which have importance to our public schools. These include the House Appropriations - Elementary and Secondary Education, the House Select Committee on the Budget, the House Elementary and Secondary Education, Emerging Issues in Education, the Select Committee on Education, the Senate Education, and the Senate Appropriations committees.

    • The Missouri Senate and the Missouri House both provide web functions for finding legislation by topic.

    • You can follow live progress or ongoing discussions and posts about the Missouri Legislatures activities on social media by following the hashtag #MoLeg. Here are links to the search on Twitter and Facebook. You will also see #MoLeg on Instagram, Google+, and occasionally in our #MOParent posts.

    • Finally, from the Missouri House site, we share a page highlighting legislative processes in Missouri and a glossary of legislative terms which you will find very handy!

    If there are any other questions you have about our policy discussions, the legislature or issues you would like to see addressed, please leave a comment below or contact us at any time.


  • FORBES Quantifies the Unquantifiable: Return on Investment in Education

     

     

    FORBES published a story called, “Here’s a Plan to Turn Around Education – and Generate $225 Trillion” that tasked a small group of education policy experts with a mighty order. FORBES asked them to find out what it would take, what it would cost, and what the return on investment would be for America to become one of the highest performers in the world in education.

    The full story, printed in the December 15, 2014, issue of FORBES, is six pages long, but don’t worry: we’ll give you the overview right here in less than 500 words.

    We would like to hear your thoughts, criticisms, and similar ideas to this effort in the comments below or through our Contact page.

    The Question
    FORBES asked what it would take to get America’s student to a top five global ranking in academics. They looked at math scores, graduation rates, and college acceptance and completion rates.

    The Goals
    The study had three big goals:
    1. Identify the key policy changes America would need to make;
    2. Estimate how much those changes would cost;
    3. Estimate the national return on investment if the policy changes were successfully implemented.

    The Answers: 1 – Policy Changes
    Researchers identified five policies that the United States would need to address in order to reach a global top 5 ranking in education. Here are those areas and a basic description of each:

    1. Teacher Efficacy
    a. Attracting and retaining top college graduates.
    b. Measure teacher effectiveness.
    2. Universal pre-K
    a. “Guaranteed pre-kindergarten for every American.”
    3. Common Core Standards
    a. Using current Common Core efforts as preliminary steps, create national standards that ensure students graduate college-ready and globally competitive.
    4. Blended Learning
    a. Provide national broadband coverage and put a computer in the hands of every student.
    b. Deliver lessons that are personalized, matching each child’s needs and pace.
    5. School Leadership
    a. Empower principals and hold them accountable for educational results.

    The Answers: 2 – Costs
    To make necessary changes to those five policy areas would cost $6.2 trillion over 20 years. Or, as FORBES says, “$310 billion a year in today’s dollars.”

    The Answers: 3 – National Return on Investment
    The return on investment of these policy changes is good. Really good. According to FORBES, “If you were a for-profit investor, you could discount these findings as much as you want, and you’d still be falling over yourself to invest.”

    How good is good? Somewhere in the ballpark of $225 trillion, spread over 80 years. For a $6.2 trillion investment, that’s a payoff we should all be willing to stand behind.

    You can read the full FORBES story Here's a Plan to Turn Around U.S. Education -- and Generate $225 Trillion.

    For more on education policy, education funding, and Missouri’s public schools, bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Missouri Legislature Begins Filing Education Bills

    The filing period for the 98th Missouri General Assembly opened on December 1, 2014 and concluded on January 6, 2015. Several veteran and new legislators have filed education-related bills which could impact all Missourians. While filing a bill does not guarantee any of these ideas will become law in Missouri, we will continue to monitor and report on these bills as they move through the legislative process. 

    The embedded tweets below contain links to the actual bill information on the web pages of the Missouri House of Representatives and Missouri Senate. For more information on the bills, feel free to contact Missouri Parent or the sponsor of the legislation.

    *Updated with more pre-filed education-related bills, 1.6.2015

  • What is ‘Teach Great’?

     

     

    Teach Great is both the informal name for Missouri Constitutional Amendment 3 and the name of the educational advocacy group that has initiated the amendment. Amendment 3, which focuses on teacher evaluations and standardized testing, will be on the general election ballot on November 4th, 2014.

    To understand the amendment, it helps to understand what Teach Great (the initiative) and TeachGreat.org (the organization) stand for.

    Teach Great – The Initiative
    Teach Great, the initiative, advocates for three areas of educational change in Missouri: changes to teacher evaluations, changes to how the results of those evaluations will affect teacher pay and retention, and contracting and collective bargaining rights for Missouri’s teachers.

    The Teach Great initiative is unpopular among Missouri’s professional educators and administrators, who argue that the amendment will take local control away from schools and that it will result in expensive and ineffective increases in standardized testing.

    Andrea Flinders is the President of the Kansas City Federation of Teachers and School-Related Personnel. She told the Kansas City Star that she sees the Teach Great Initiative as “a fight”, saying that Teach Great threatens local control of school boards. “We still have to educate the public. The devil is in the details,” she said.

    TeachGreat.org – The Organization
    TeachGreat.org, the organization, exists to advocate in favor of the “Teach Great” Amendment (Amendment 3). It was founded by—and has received more than $1.7 million in funding from—activist Rex Sinquefield.

    According to TeachGreat.org, the organization’s mission is to: “…reward and protect good teachers, ensure administrators are able to support struggling teachers, and make it easier for schools to hire great teachers”. (source)

    Missouri’s teachers, however, argue that Teach Great does anything but reward and protect good teachers or enable administrators to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

    Educators Stand Up Against “Teach Great”
    The Missouri Association of School Administrators, the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals, the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals, the Missouri Association of Rural Education, the Missouri State Teachers Association, and the American Federation of Teachers are just some of the organizations that are standing up against Teach Great.

    The Missouri Retired Teachers Association (MRTA), which is among those professional organizations advocating against Constitutional Amendment 3, has acquired “NoOnMO3” quotes from a number of retired Missouri teachers.

    Barbara Self, a retired teacher from Republic, Missouri, is a member of the MRTA. She told the Caldwell County News that Amendment 3 is the wrong way to educate Missouri’s students:

    (source)

    TWEET THIS

    Next Steps
    After realizing that Amendment 3 was not polling well with voters in Missouri, Teach Great called off its formal campaign efforts. The organization intends to launch a listening campaign around Missouri, during which it will hear what local communities have to say about improving education in Missouri.

    Although the organization has halted its campaign for Amendment 3, however, the amendment remains on the November 4th general election ballot. Parents, educators, administrators, and concerned community members are encouraged to continue to learn more about Amendment 3, and to vote no in the general election on November 4th.

     

    TWEET THIS

    Helping You Stay Informed
    Missouri Parent will continue to report on Amendment 3 and how efforts by political advocacy groups like Teach Great affect public education in Missouri. Stay tuned as we will soon publish a feature on the Protect Our Local Schools organization.

    Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog often, and be sure to Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on the information you need to help your children succeed in Missouri schools.



     

  • #MoNoOn3: A Constitutional Amendment Affecting Public Schools

     

     

     

    Constitutional Amendment 3 will appear on the November 4th, 2014 general election ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment. The amendment, which is centered on using standardized test scores to evaluate public school teachers, is a bad move for Missouri’s students, teachers, and schools.

    What the Ballot Says
    The ballot boils Constitutional Amendment 3 down to three core changes: teacher evaluations, effects of those evaluations, and teacher rights for contracts and collective bargaining.

    Specifically, the Amendment reads:

    Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

    • Require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding;
    • Require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system;
    • Require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts; and prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system?

    How Constitutional Amendment 3 Came to Be
    Constitutional Amendment 3 is sponsored by Teach Great, an organization lead not by teachers or other educational professionals, but by a wealthy businessman (Rex Sinquefield) from St. Louis who has put hundreds of thousands of his own dollars into this one campaign.

    In fact, educators and school leaders statewide strongly oppose Constitutional Amendment 3. Teachers and administrators are standing firm: #NoMoOn3. TWEET THIS

    Educators Oppose Amendment 3
    Individual teachers and statewide educational organizations are doing their best to raise awareness about what Amendment 3 means to public education budgets and to students in our public schools.

    Two teachers in the Francis Howell School District have lost a legal challenge to the ballot initiative. The teachers argued that the amendment was in violation of the Missouri Constitution because it addressed two topics (a teacher evaluation system and limited ability for collective bargaining) simultaneously.

    The Missouri State Teachers Association, the Committee in Support of Public Schools, and the Cape Girardeau Teachers Association are just a few of the educational organizations stepping up to publicly argue #MoNoOn3.

    Missouri NEA lobbyist DeeAnn Aull said, “This amendment will result in more time spent testing and less time spent learning, actually short-changing the education students receive.”

    The impacts of Missouri Amendment 3 are far-reaching, affecting school expenses, teacher recruitment and retention, the number of standardized tests students will be required to take (the number is estimated to increase tenfold), and how much control districts and schools will have over the evaluation of their own educators.

    What the Amendment Means for Schools

    • Schools & districts will lose local control; their individual evaluation systems must be approved in Jefferson City. TWEET THIS
    • Students will be required to take even more standardized tests (the Missouri State Teachers Association estimates a tenfold increase to account for new tests in areas like music and the arts). TWEET THIS
    • Those additional tests raise the costs of an already underfunded and financially strained state education system. TWEET THIS
    • Student test scores would be used as the majority factor in the determination of teacher pay and retention: they could be fired or demoted if their students perform poorly on standardized tests. TWEET THIS
    • Teachers in low-income schools (where student test performance is negatively influenced by factors that are well outside of the teacher’s influence) could lose their jobs if students test poorly. TWEET THIS
    • The amendment would make it harder to recruit and retain teachers to work in Missouri’s low-income and/or underperforming schools and districts. TWEET THIS
    • Teacher contracts could no longer exist for periods of more than three years. TWEET THIS
    • Teachers would be prevented from collectively bargaining over the terms of their own evaluations. TWEET THIS

    Constitutional Amendment 3 is a bad idea all-around. The amendment is one more effort—an expensive one, at that—by Rex Sinquefield to put his mark on public education.

     

    TWEET THIS REMINDER TO YOUR FRIENDS & FOLLOWERS BEFORE 10.8.2014!

    Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog and follow us on social media to stay informed on Constitutional Amendment 3 and other policy initiatives that will affect your public school student in Missouri.

     

  • Four Passed Bills Which Impact Missouri Public Schools




    With the end of the regular session of the Missouri Legislature, it is a good time to look at several bills impacting public education were passed and one which might be back sooner than you think.

    HB 2002 is the appropriations bill which fund elementary and secondary schools. The Foundation Formula received an at least $115 million in increased funding. Due to a compromise trigger, if revenue meets earlier forecasts the fund could see more money for public schools.

    Even with the increased funding, the Foundation Formula is currently underfunded by more than $500 million from promised levels.

    See also: Where MO School Funding Comes From and Understanding the Foundation Formula

    SB 493 is the bill relating to transfers of students from unaccredited schools to accredited schools. Among many changes, the bill allows for students to be transferred to private, nonreligious schools. Governor Nixon is considering a veto of this bill and calling the Legislature back to a special session on the issue.

    HB 1689 allows for future state funding for public school districts to provide early childhood education to children in poverty.

    HB 1490 seeks to find a compromised between supporters and detractors of the Common Core standards by creating evaluation panels for any changes to education standards.

    Were there any public school issues you wanted to see addressed which were not by the legislature this session? Leave your thoughts and comments here on the blog on our Facebook page.

    Missouri Parent will continue to cover these issues and any updates on possible special session.

    Image via.

  • School Funding in America’s Top-Performing States


    American public schools were projected to spend $11,180 per student during the 2013-14 academic year (source). Missouri fell below the national average with a projected $9,721 per pupil expenditure (source). Today we’ll talk about whether that spending difference has an impact on achievement in Missouri’s public schools.

    Researchers have articulated loose correlations between school funding and student performance for years. The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) gathers some of the data that researchers use in understanding those correlations.

    The NAEP is the nation’s longest-running comparative testing program, but it does more than test students; it also gathers comparative data on schools, districts, and states.

    The NAEP’s primary tests are administered in — among other content areas and grade levels — 4th and 8th grade reading and math. NAEP tests are administered in all 50 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools. Of those 52 locations only 14 earned higher-than-national-average percentages in all four primary NAEP content areas: 4th grade math, 8th grade math, 4th grade reading and 8th grade reading.



    12 of those 14 states invests significantly more money per pupil in public education than Missouri does. Additionally, the average spending among the 14 highest achieving states was $11,871 per pupil. That’s almost $700 above the national average and more than $2100 — or approximately 22% —more than Missouri’s public school students receive.

    The larger correlation between school funding and student performance may be a loose one, but when the funding for the nation’s top performing states is compared against Missouri’s public education funding, the story becomes clearer: school funding makes a difference in student performance.

    Of the 14 states who performed above the national average in 4th and 8th grade math and reading none has a higher percentage of students on free or reduced lunches than we do in Missouri. In other words, Missouri’s are facing financial challenges at home and at school that make it difficult for them to compete on the national stage.

    School funding has long been debated in Missouri, but nine years after the Missouri Foundation Formula for public schools was passed, the state still fell $620 million dollars short of full funding after the 2014 appropriations process. If we want Missouri’s students be competitive nationally, we must fund our schools at nationally competitive levels.

    To continue to learn about Missouri’s funding for public education and the legislative issues that affect that funding, subscribe to Missouri Parent emails: Just enter your name, email address, and zip code in the form at the top of this page.

    To learn what you can do to ensure that Missouri’s public school students receive the funding necessary for them to be competitive now and in the future, subscribe to the Missouri Parent Blog and follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

    More on Funding for Missouri Public Schools:

  • Highlights of #MOTransfers Debate in MO House

    The Missouri House of Representatives debated and passed SB 493 relating to transfers of students in unaccredited schools to accredited schools in Missouri on April 30th. The bill passed 91-64 and returns to the Senate. Below are tweeted highlights from reporters and witnesses to the debate.


  • Projected Impact of the SB 509 Tax Cut on Individual School Districts in Missouri

    Click the image above to learn the projected impact of the SB 509 tax cut on every individual public school district in Missouri.

    Use this link to look up your local legislator and ask them to sustain Governor Nixon's veto

    Contact the legislators who have been strong supporters of public schools and who have voted against previous tax cuts due to their impact on education.

    Sen. David Pearce: david.pearce@senate.mo.gov
    2. Rep. Elaine Gannon: elaine.gannon@house.mo.gov
    3. Rep. Paul Fitzwater: paul.fitzwater@house.mo.gov
    4. Rep. Sue Entlicher: sue.entlicher@house.mo.gov
    5. Rep. Mike Thomson: mike.thomson@house.mo.gov
    6. Rep. Lyle Rowland: lyle.rowland@house.mo.gov
    7. Rep. Craig Redmon: craig.redmon@house.mo.gov
    8. Rep. Don Phillips: don.phillips@house.mo.gov
    9. Rep. Donna Pfautsch: donna.pfautsch@house.mo.gov
    10. Rep. Lynn Morris: lynn.morris@house.mo.gov
    11. Rep. Jeff Messenger: jeff.messenger@house.mo.gov
    12. Rep. Kent Hampton: kent.hampton@house.mo.gov
    13. Rep. Lyndall Fraker: lyndall.fraker@house.mo.gov


  • Neighboring States in the Education News

    As Missourians battle for full funding for the Foundation Formula and participate in heated discussions about the Common Core State Standards and school transfers, education is landing headlines in surrounding states, as well. From the governor’s race in Arkansas to Kentucky’s newly approved budget increases, here’s what leading education news headlines just across the border:

    Arkansas: Candidates for Governor Share Education Proposals
    As Arkansas prepares for elections, candidates for governor are sharing their proposals for statewide improvements in education. Specific topics range from early childhood education and workforce readiness to Common Core State Standards and increased local control of schools. (source)

    Illinois: Glitches in Teacher Licensing System Affect Teachers
    A multi-million dollar software system intended to aid in teacher licensing in Illinois was shut down after security breaches left teachers’ personal information public. For many teachers, information in the system was also missing and/or incorrect. Glitches left others unable to renew their teaching licenses. (source)

    Iowa: State Negotiates 6% Increase in Education Budget
    The Iowa Senate has approved a bill that would increase public education funding by 6% in 2016. The bill, which awaits House approval, would benefit K-12 and state university students. (source)

    Kentucky: State Education Budget To Increase By $189 Million
    The Kentucky General Assembly approved increasing the state’s funding formula budget by $189 million over the next two years. Money will go towards teacher raises, technology, and textbooks. (source)

    Nebraska: New Standards Require Students to Use Social Media
    A new set of “digital citizenship” skills is being proposed in Nebraska as part of updated language arts standards. The new standards, which officials hope to have a final draft of by August of this year, also includes emphases on researching and writing for different purposes and on speaking and listening well. (source)

    Oklahoma: 25,000 Gather to Support School Funding
    Late March brought the largest advocacy effort for public schools that Oklahoma has seen in 24 years. An estimated 25,000 supporters gathered in Oklahoma City in a rally to fight against tax cuts and advocate for increased school support.

    Tennessee: Free Community College In Sight?
    Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has proposed a plan that would make all costs for two-year community college programs free for Tennessee students. The governor’s proposal will help raise the rate of college graduates in the state of Tennessee. Currently 32% of Tennesseans hold some sort of college degree. Gov. Haslam’s goal is to raise that rate to 55% by 2025. (source)

  • Spring Break is a Time for Action

    This is the week the Missouri Legislature takes its annual spring break. This usually signifies the halfway mark of the legislative session and allows our elected officials to reconnect with their constituents. Spring break is also a great time for you to discuss important public education issues with your state representatives and senators.

    So far this session there has been lengthy discussion on issues such as education funding, transfers of students from unaccredited school districts and tax cuts which would greatly impact your local schools.

    Missouri Parent has carefully watched and reported on these topics through our website and social media. You have probably read and shared our content with your fellow parents.

    When it comes to education funding, the legislature has chosen to ignore the budget recommendations of Governor Nixon and only commit to an additional $122 million towards the Foundation Formula. This legislative proposal, while appreciated, still leaves the state more than $478 million behind in funding our public schools. Our position: Work to fully fund the Foundation Formula. TWEET THIS

    Regarding student transfers, of the many bills which have been filed and debated, Missouri Parent only fully supports HB 2037 filed by Rep. Jeanie Lauer (R-Blue Springs). Thank Rep. Lauer HERE. This bill creates a proactive system of dealing with struggling school districts, protects the students who are left behind in our few failing districts, brings education professionals in as the problem solvers instead of hired gun bureaucrats and protects the investments made by Missouri’s taxpayers into all of our schools. Our position: Fix broken schools and protect students first. TWEET THIS

    Finally, when it comes to tax cuts, we stand with Governor Nixon and legislators who will only support tax cuts which take effect when the Foundation Formula is fully funded. The Governor vetoed last year’s risky tax cut idea and will probably do the same to any bill which does not protect funding for public schools. Our position: Fully fund public schools before any tax cuts become reality. TWEET THIS

    We ask you to take a moment this week to contact your local legislators and ask them to support public schools at the local and state level. When the legislators come back next week, discussions will run fast and furious to pass all the required legislation by their deadlines in May. Your input may be the voice they need to hear to truly fully fund, protect students, and build the future of our public schools in Missouri. TWEET THIS


  • Tax Breaks Don’t Benefit Students

    Dozens of Missouri representatives from across party lines stood strong in 2013 against Missouri House Bill 253. The bill, which was touted as an economic development bill, centered on business tax cuts that were detrimental to state funding for public schools.

    Now that Missouri’s new legislative session is underway, another bill has emerged that is reminiscent of HB 253.

    Like HB 253, HB 1253 establishes tax breaks for Missouri businesses. The bill is sponsored by Representative T.J. Berry (R-Kearney) — the same representative who sponsored HB 253, but it is narrower in scope than HB 253 was.

    In a testimony against HB 1253 by the School Administrator’s Coalition to the Ways & Means Committee, the Coalition pointed out to the committee that Missouri’s state-level education funding is some of the worst in the nation.

    The reduced state revenues created by HB 1253’s tax cuts will undercut already-low funding for Missouri’s schools.

    Since 2008, Missouri’s public schools have seen:
    · A 50% cut to early childhood education in the Parents As Teachers Program.
    · A $10 million cut to low-income early childhood education.
    · A 70% cut to transportation.
    · The elimination of Career Ladder.
    · Stagnate state funding coming to their schools.

    The Missouri Foundation Formula was underfunded by $621 million in FY2013, and nearly 84% of Missouri’s education funding comes from the General Revenue; a fund which is expected to be hit hard by the tax breaks supported by HB 1253.

    Our schools can’t afford to lose any more state funding, which is why, at this time, Missouri Parent does not support Missouri HB 1253.

    One of our goals at Missouri Parent is to keep you — the Missouri public school parent — informed on legislative and funding issues that affect your child’s public education. As the Second Regular Session of the 97th Missouri General Assembly moves forward, we’ll continue to post relevant updates and advocacy topics here on the Missouri Parent Blog.

    The Senate version of this bill is SB 509 sponsored by Senator Will Kraus of Jackson County.

    To learn more about funding and legislation that affects Missouri’s public schools, be sure to read these posts from the Missouri Parent Blog:

    Where Does Missouri’s Public Education Funding Come From?
    State-Level Funding for Missouri Public Schools
    What Missouri Educators Are Doing to Fight HB 253
    These Legislators Stood Strong for Education in Missouri

    What Can You Do?

    Contact Your Legislators

    Tweet: Tax cuts do not benefit public school students in Missouri: http://ctt.ec/f6Br_+ #MoLeg #FundMoEdClick the bird tweet a supportive message


  • Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula

    The Missouri Foundation Formula was passed in 2005 to help ensure that all of Missouri’s elementary and secondary education students have access to adequate educational resources.

    The formula is used to establish a concrete spending target — the amount of money that should be spent (at minimum) in order to educate the average K-12 student in Missouri per academic year.

    The four basic pieces of the Missouri Foundation Formula are:
    · Weighted Average Daily Attendance
    · The State Adequacy Target
    · The Dollar Value Modifier
    · Local Effort

    Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA)
    Weighted Average Daily Attendance accounts for the average daily attendance of students in each school district as compared to the total number of hours that each student could possibly be in school during that academic year in that district.

    A detailed weighting system is then used to account for the fact that some students simply need more help (and in turn, require more resources from their districts) than others do to achieve the same academic and/or behavioral results.

    The state has identified three categories of students whose attendance in schools is weighted: those on free or reduced lunches, those with individualized learning plans and those who are deemed limited in English language proficiency.

    The State Adequacy Target (SAT)
    Two terms are used in context of the State Adequacy Target and it’s important to understand the difference between them.

    Adequacy means providing each student with an education that is “adequate”. In other words, adequacy accounts for meeting baseline educational needs.

    Equity, on the other hand, means that each school district receives total funding that is fair relative to the total funding received by other districts.

    The SAT helps the state to educate students adequately by funding districts equitably. This is where the concrete educational spending target that we mentioned in the first paragraph of this piece comes into play. When the Missouri Foundation Formula is fully funded, the SAT will ensure that each student in the state of Missouri receives (at minimum) the equivalent of the target education investment for that academic year.

    For example, in Missouri, the target for 2013 and 2014 was $6,717.17 per student. When the Foundation Formula is fully funded, each student in the state will see a total investment in his or her education equivalent to at least $6,717.17 per academic year.

    The SAT accounts for the cost of meeting all of the criteria of the Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP), which is the state’s accountability system for schools and school districts. (Read more about the MSIP here.)

    To Be Continued…
    Come Back for Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula, Part II 

    Have Missouri K-12 public school updates delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up for Missouri Parent email updates at the top of this page. You can also follow Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.

  • An Extended School Year for Missouri’s Students?


    Edua

    Of the twelve identified key issues discussed during the Missouri House Interim Committee on Education’s October 2013 public hearings, some are receiving more public attention than others. Among them is what the Committee called “School calendar and extended learning”.

    In short, the feedback that the Committee gathered during the public hearings that
    · Summer holidays result in too many weeks of the fall term being spent “making up lost ground”.
    · The students who are already suffering the biggest learning gaps suffer even more from that “lost ground” each fall.

    At the end of the hearings, the Committee released a formal report, in which it recommended that Missouri’s schools implement a longer school calendar.

    This isn’t the first time that extending Missouri’s school calendar has come up in legislative discussions. It’s been on the table since the 1980s, and has received bi-partisan support throughout the years.

    As the 2nd Regular Session of the 97th General Assembly continues, we’ll keep you informed about legislative updates that could affect the length of the public school year in Missouri.

  • Governor Nixon Proposes Increases to Education Funding

    Click the image above for the full Formula Projections Report (PDF)

    On January 21, 2014, Governor Jay Nixon gave his State of the State address to a joint gathering of the Missouri Legislature. The address included calls to increase funding for public K-12 education in Fiscal Year 2015.

    Under the Governor's proposed budget an additional $278 million is appropriated to the Foundation Formula for Missouri's public schools. The Foundation Formula had a more than $620 million shortfall after the Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations process. 

    The Governor's proposed budget is just the first step in the appropriations process. Next the Missouri House will craft and pass a proposed budget which will then be sent to the Missouri Senate for their consideration. Both bodies must agree on a final budget for FY2015 by May 9, 2014. You can learn more about the legislative process in Missouri here

    You can read a projection of what each individual school district would receive if the budget were to pass as proposed here

    Other headlines from the State of the State include:

    Nixon Spells Out Plan to Boost Preschool Funding

    Governor, Legislature Already Split on Budget

    Video of the State of the State Address

  • Wraparound Services for Missouri’s K-12 Public School Students

    In October, the Missouri House Interim Committee on Education identified 12 educational issues that were of interest to stakeholders around the state. One of those issues was called wraparound services.

    As the legislature reconvenes for the 97th General Assembly, wraparound services may be a subject that you begin hearing more about. This post is designed to help you better-understand what wraparound is and what it means in context of Missouri’s public schools.

    What the Committee Says About Wraparound Services:

    · Wraparound services can “make an enormous difference in a student’s life”.
    · Wraparound services “are not a panacea; to be most effective, they must be fine-tuned to each district's circumstances”.
    · The wraparound services in many districts are the result of individuals (a principal, a staff member, or a district patron) connecting resources in the community to student needs.

    What, Exactly, are Wraparound Services?

    According to the National Wraparound Initiative:

    “Since the term was first coined in the 1980s, “wraparound” has been defined in different ways. It has been described as a philosophy, an approach, and a service. In recent years, wraparound has been most commonly conceived of as anintensive, individualized care planning and management process.” (source)

    What Does Wraparound Mean for Missouri Schools?

    Wraparound services are collaborative programs between community organizations and schools. In most cases, those collaborations result in the creation of Individualized Treatment Plans (ITPs) for students who need them. The school, the student, the student’s family and the community organizations involved in the wraparound service work together to implement the student’s ITP.

    The exact services provided in a student’s ITP vary from one child to the next, but they can be social, behavioral, educational, or nutritional in nature. Some specific examples include:

    · Counseling
    · Foster or group home care
    · Medical care (examples include vision care or help with managing asthma)
    · Afterschool programs
    · Tutoring
    · Truancy prevention programs
    · English Language Learning (ELL )support

    Wraparound Services are Close to Home

    One of the key elements of Missouri’s wraparound services is that they’re close to home. Each community pairs schools, students, and resources as needed. The result is that wraparound services are unique from one community to the next.

    There is no one entity that manages wraparound services, so to learn more about the services available in your own community or at your child’s school, we suggest contacting a school counselor or principal.

    Want to Learn More?

    To learn more about the Missouri House Interim Committee on Education, see these Missouri Parent posts:

    Missouri Interim Committee on Education Hearing Results
    The Missouri House Interim Committee on Education Public Hearing Schedule
    The Missouri House Interim Committee on Education October Hearings
    Highlights of Recent Missouri Education Hearings

    To learn more about the current Missouri Legislative Session? Click here.


  • A Lesson From New Jersey Which Missouri Can Learn From

    In Part I of “A Lesson Missouri Can Learn from New Jersey’s Abbott Schools”, we explained how Abbott v. Burke resulted in a total — and highly effective — reform of New Jersey’s early elementary education programs in its poorest (and some of the poorest in the nation) schools.

    The Abbott model resulted in persistent test gains, lower retention rates, and a lesser need for special education services. Achievement gaps were made significantly smaller, and grade repetition was reduced by 12-19%.

    So how did New Jersey do it?

    Abbot v. Burke has been a long and expensive effort in school reform spanning 1985 (when the case reached the New Jersey Supreme Court) to present. During that time, New Jersey has:

    · Required low-income (dubbed “Abbott”) schools to undergo “whole school reform”.
    · Provided generous state support to Abbott schools to assist in reform.
    · Used state support to supply previously bare-boned classrooms with an influx of support, including books, computers, and teaching assistants.
    · Reduced class sizes. The new standard was 1 teacher to 15 students.
    · Strengthened early childhood curriculum.
    · Required that certified teachers teach all preschool classrooms.
    · Funded capital improvements that ensured that all students attended safe, educationally adequate, and not overcrowded schools.

    What Should Missouri Take Away?

    · New Jersey didn’t shuttle Abbott School students to different districts; it invested heavily in improving all aspects of those students’ educational experience in their own schools.
    · The state of New Jersey made huge financial investments in its early childhood education programs in Abbot Schools.
    · In New Jersey, the state contributed heavily to school improvement. (In Missouri, the Foundation Formula was still underfunded by $621 million in 2013, and less than 32% of public school funding came from the state.)

    Photo via Asbury Park Sun

  • A Lesson Missouri Can Learn from New Jersey’s Abbott Schools

    In one of the most important steps to protect poor and minority students since Brown v. Board of Education, the state of New Jersey has transformed preschool education for some of the lowest-income students in the United States.

    The multi-part litigation generally referred to as Abbott v. Burke covers educational issues that were first raised in New Jersey in the 1970s. The case resulted in the New Jersey Supreme Court requiring New Jersey to create a high-quality preschool education program for the 31 highest-poverty school districts in New Jersey, including providing all students with a safe, educationally adequate, and not-overcrowded school facility.

    According to the advocacy group Education Law Center, the Abbott rulings, “directed implementation of a comprehensive set of remedial measures, including high quality early education, supplemental programs and reforms, and school facilities improvements, to ensure an adequate and equal education for low-income schoolchildren.” (source)

    Implementation began during the 1999-2000 school year, and in 2005-6, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University began a longitudinal study to evaluate the state’s efforts.

    NIEER looked at the effects the improved preschool programs had on students’ language arts, mathematics, and science skills over time. What they found was impressive:

    · “…persistent gains in all tested subjects on the state assessments, with larger test score gains for children who participated in two years of preschool.” (source)
    · “…participation was linked to lower retention rates and fewer children needing special education.” (source)
    · “In 1999-2000, less than 15% of pre-K classrooms were good to excellent and nearly 1 in 4 was less than minimal quality. By 2007-08 the vast majority of classrooms were good to excellent. (source)
    · “The Abbott model totally transformed the quality preschool education using essentially the same programs (2/3 private) and teachers.” (source)
    · The effects of attending two years of the program were “large enough to close about half the achievement gap between low-income children and their more advantaged peers.” (source)
    · “Abbott pre-K reduced grade repetition from 19% to 12%” (source)
    · “Abbott pre-K reduced special education from 17% to 12% through 5th grade.” (source)

    So how did New Jersey do it?
    Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog for Part II in this post on New Jersey’s Abbott Schools.


  • Teacher Tenure & the Legislative Session

    The Missouri House Interim Committee on Education identified 12 educational issues during its public hearings in October 2013 that we can expect to hear discussed more frequently in 2014. One of those issues is Missouri teacher tenure.

    Teacher tenure is a divisive topic in our state. Part of the reason for that division is that there are a number of misconceptions about teacher tenure in Missouri. The most prominent misperception might be that tenure protects teachers from involuntary dismissal. In fact, tenured teachers can be (and are) fired in Missouri for a number of reasons.

    The Committee’s final report said that, “ideally ineffective teachers are coached into being more effective or coached out of the profession”.

    Missouri’s current teacher tenure law allows for that coaching, as well as for the immediate dismissal of teachers who meet certain dismissal criteria.

    Missouri teacher tenure is good for several other reasons as well:

    · Teacher tenure protects experienced (and more expensive) teachers from being released and replaced by less experienced (and less expensive) teachers without just cause.
    · Teacher tenure protects teachers from being fired for using unpopular or controversial teaching tactics or curriculum.
    · Tenure protects teachers from being fired for political, personal, or non-work-related reasons.
    · Teacher tenure helps to attract and retain talented and effective teachers to teach in Missouri’s public schools.
    · Tenure empowers teachers to advocate for students when those same teachers question the administrative choices of their principals or superintendents.

    As the current legislative session gets underway, teacher tenure will continue to be a contentious subject of discussion. Missouri Parent believes that teacher tenure is a good policy for Missouri’s K-12 public school teachers and students. It should be reiterated that even with tenure, any teacher can be fired at any time in Missouri for a number of reasons. To learn more about teacher tenure in Missouri, click here.

    Teacher Tenure and Teacher Shortages in the State of Missouri
    Common Misperceptions About Teacher Tenure in Missouri



  • The Missouri Legislative Session Begins

    Today, January 8, 2014, marked the beginning of another session of the Missouri Legislature. This marks the Second Regular Session of the 97th General Assembly.

    As the Missouri Parent project also exists to inform our audience of public policy issues which impact public education in our state, you will begin to see more content published here and shared across our social media about the activities of our elected officials.

    We would like to share a couple general pieces of information you may find helpful as the session works its way towards completion in May.

    If there are any other questions you have about our policy discussions, the legislature or issues you would like to see addressed, please leave a comment below or contact us at any time.

  • MSIP5 Performance Standard: Attendance Rate

    The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) is the framework for the State’s Annual Performance Reports (APR), which are used — along with other information — to determine each district’s accreditation status.

    Not sure what MSIP is? Read this short post.

    Under MSIP, five distinctive Performance Standards are measured, including Attendance Rate.

    The other four Performance Standards are: Academic Achievement, Subgroup Achievement, College and Career (or High School) Readiness, and Graduation Rate.

    Measuring these performance standards informs each school’s APR scores and accreditation status, and also helps Missouri measure its progress toward the goal of achieving a Top 10 ranking in the US in public education by the year 2020.

    Under MSIP5, attendance has a fairly straightforward goal; to ensure that all students in any given school district attend school regularly.

    Attendance is measured based on individual student attendance rates; 90% of individual students are expected to be in attendance 90% of the time.

    Though the overall formula is a bit more complicated, the idea is that attendance rates are calculated based on total possible hours in school (total hours enrolled) against any hours that the student has been absent from school. Each student’s attendance is counted individually, and attendance records are kept for all students K-12.

    Both the total hours enrolled and the total hours absent are tracked for each individual student. This allows schools, districts, and the state to account for part-day absences (for example, doctor’s appointments).

    It also ensure that when students transfer into or out of a school district, that school district is only held accountable for the student’s attendance for the total hours the student could possibly attend that school (based on his or her enrollment).

    To learn more about MSIP5, school accreditation, and policy that affects your child’s K-12 public education the state of Missouri, come back to the Missouri Parent Blog or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

    Was this post helpful? Then you might enjoy these Missouri Parent posts about MSIP5 and school accreditation:

    5 Ways Your Student’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation
    15 Missouri School Districts Earn 100% on Annual Performance Reviews
    What is the Missouri School Improvement Program?
    Academic Achievement & School Accreditation in Missouri 
    What are Subgroups, and How Does Missouri Measure Their Achievement? 
    MSIP5 Performance Standard #3: High School (K-8) or College & Career (K-12) Readiness 

  • Missouri Interim Committee on Education Hearing Results


    In October 2013, the Missouri House of Representatives Interim Committee on Education toured Missouri in a series of public education hearings.

    Representatives talked with communities across the state about issues surrounding Missouri K-12 public education, and on December 2, 2013, the Committee published a report summarizing the process, locations & dates, and findings from the statewide hearings.

    As the Missouri Legislature reconvenes this week, we provide a brief overview of its findings and recommendations:

    School Transfers
    The Committee recommends, at a minimum, limiting tuition to a single amount. In addition, the Committee recommends statutory changes that would prescribe scope of control over acceptable numbers of and conditions for student transfers

    Early Childhood Education
    “The most enthusiastically recommended and most often mentioned possibility for long term improvement of academic achievement was early childhood education.”

    “...the budget and appropriations committees will need to determine the scope of any possible increase [in funding] and decide if existing methods of fund delivery are sufficient.”

    School Calendar and Extended Learning
    An overall increase in learning time for every student, especially for struggling students and districts is recommended by the Committee.

    Career and Technical Education (CTE)
    “Career and technical education is the state’s best channel for providing the foundation for a good job that might not require a bachelor’s degree.”

    The Committee hopes that changes to the CTE governance and communication structures (in SB 9 (2013)) will remedy parent and teacher concerns that MSIP standards don’t recognize the value of CTE programs.

    Wraparound Services
    “Services to address problems such as hunger, bad vision, and medical conditions that hinder academic achievement can make an enormous difference in a student’s life…To be most effective, they must be fine-tuned to each district’s circumstances.”

    Parent-Community-School Relationships and Transparency
    “Good schools reach out to the community and parents…Schools that meet parents more than halfway usually get better results.”

    Virtual Learning
    The state’s job in virtual learning, “is to safeguard the quality of the instruction and curriculum while providing access to more students for more subjects.”

    Educator Preparation
    “The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has raised the bar for teacher education and principal/administrator development programs requiring more rigorous standards…Changing teacher preparation standards goes hand-in-hand with changing student standards and assessments, and evaluations.”

    Educator Evaluation
    Teachers voiced a desire to see evaluations consistently and fairly administered. “More walk-throughs with quick feedback work better than observing a teacher once for an hour…Developing the capacity of principals and others to provide useful feedback is a priority.”

    Tenure
    “Ideally, effective teachers are coached into being more effective or coached out of the profession…Tenure has historically been linked with getting into the profession; however, the standards for staying in the profession and for continuous improvement of performance are a newer development.”

    Common Core Standards and Assessments
    “The most heated testimony heard by the committee concerned the Common Core State Standards initiative. It was apparent that a disconnect has occurred in two areas — the first, between some districts and some of their patrons, and the second, between the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the average Missouri parent.”

    “The Committee remains concerned over the issue and will be watchful to protect the openness of all processes related to it, especially the statutory protection for curriculum as a local decision (160.514, subsection 3).”

    School Safety
    “The Committee did not receive much testimony on school safety, despite a number of recent incidents of school violence in other states. The Committee’s hope is that the lack of testimony results from most parents believing their children are safe in the state’s schools.”

    You can download and save a PDF of the Committee’s full report by clicking here.

    Missouri Parent will be discussing all of these issues in greater depth, from our perspective, and through out the legislative session this year. For more about the Interim Committee on Education’s October 2013 education hearings, read these posts from the Missouri Parent Blog:

    The Missouri House Interim Committee on Education October Hearings
    Highlights of Recent Missouri Education Hearings
    These Legislators Stood Strong for Public Education in Missouri

  • Decline to Sign: Children’s Education Initiative

    In the coming days, weeks and months ahead, you may be asked to sign a petition for what seems like a good idea: tax credits for education. The petition is labeled with the friendly name of the Children’s Education Initiative but the issue is not as simple as it seems.

    This petition, if enough signatures are gathered and voters approved the question in a statewide election, would modify Missouri’s constitution through the election process to create a $90 million tax credit program for donations to public and private school foundations. 

    Of this $90 million, 50% of the credit is dedicated to public school foundations, 40% dedicated to private school foundations and 10% to private providers of special education services.

    Being an organization that supports public education, Missouri Parent does not agree with the petition effort and asks you, and all parents in Missouri, to decline to sign it.

    Tweet: #DeclineToSign the Childrens Education Initiative petition in #Missouri. Get the full story here: http://ctt.ec/cieo4+

    The reasons Missouri Parent cannot support this initiative include:

    · We are opposed to state tax credit programs that provide funding for private or parochial schools.
    · The Children’s Education Initiative would redirect $90 million away from the state’s general revenue fund. The tax credit program would remove this money from state revenues when those resources could be used to help fund the state’s foundation formula that is already underfunded by nearly $600 million.
    · The Children’s Education Initiative creates an iniquity in Missouri school funding. Wealthy patrons that live in wealthier regions of the state are better positioned to take advantage of this tax credit, while poorer and smaller schools in rural and urban Missouri are at a disadvantage.
    · Because almost all of the private schools in the state of Missouri are located in suburban and urban settings, private schools in those areas will be receiving the funding ($45 million) that would normally be distributed through the formula to all schools in the state.
    · There is no provision that despite receiving public money through this tax credit program that private schools be required to be held to the same standards as public schools.
    · Missouri currently spends over $500 million on tax credit programs, more than any other state in the country, and a new $90 million tax credit would be an 18% increase in tax credits

    We ask that you also share this information with your friends, family, co-workers and anyone you know who may be approached about this petition.

    Missouri public education funding is already given the short end of the stick, the state shouldn’t be doing anything else to weaken our public schools.

    The official petition can be seen on the website of the Missouri Secretary of State here.

    You may also be interested in these articles on similar topics:
    Two Reasons to Choose Public Schools
    The Cost of Private Education for Missouri Families 
    These Legislators Stood Strong for Education in Missouri 



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