New state Senate committee aims to better education

Thursday, July 23, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A new committee has its sights set on better preparing Missouri's students for the future job market.

The Missouri Senate recently formed the Educated Citizenry 2020 Committee in the hope of improving the state's education system by the year 2020.

"At that point in time, we want to make sure Missouri's education system is producing educated students and workers to meet the demand of the global marketplace," said Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D- St. Louis, a member of the six-member committee.

The resolution that established the committee states that Missouri ranks 30th in the nation in 25- to 34-year-olds with a degree past high school.

Although the resolution aims to improve academic achievement past high school, it also states, "... The strategy cannot simply focus on higher education, but must take place along the entire spectrum of education."

The committee plans to accomplish its goals by developing long-term plans and strategies.

"You don't always have the ability in the Senate to look at issues in the long term," said Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R- Columbia, also a committee member.

Schaefer said serving on the committee is a luxury because members will be able to step back and consider issues more theoretically and in the long term rather than discussing pressing issues that are tied to time-sensitive bills.

Instead, he said this committee will ask itself, "Where should we be in 20 to 30 years, and what bills will get us there?"

One idea the committee will investigate is long-term funding versus year-to-year budgeting. Schaefer said long-term funding would likely stabilize budgeting for K-12 education. The committee also plans to look into the affect summer vacation has on children and merit-based pay, especially for K-12 teachers, he said.

Charlie Shields, president pro tem of the Senate, established the committee in April. Committee members met for the first time in June over a recorded phone conference and will meet again in late July or early August.


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Allan Sharrock July 23, 2009 | 2:53 p.m.

So how about paying teachers a professional wage? We are ranked 44th in the Nation. That would be a good start. We can form committee's we can talk programs but at the end of the day money talks.

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