OK, I am confused here. The men and women under the Gray Dome in Jefferson City have taken the windfall from the $600 quatrillion Power Ball sales and shored up a portion of the public education budget. Whoo Hoo!
Yet these are the same men and women, at least those who sit to the right, who wish to do away with teachers because they might be older, have seniority and have higher salaries. Salaries, by the way, that do not reflect the exceptionally hard job they have working with teenagers who would rather be sleeping, playing and being kids. Or teens who see no future for themselves because they are "just not good enough." Or who have little, if any, family support for whatever reason and just do not care.
For those of you who do not teach, would you like to trade places with a middle, junior high or high school teacher, let's say for a week? How about if the pay was doubled? Tripled? No? Even if you were charged with the future of this country?
What have our Gray Dome legislators done now to light the ire of our teachers, parents and, of course, me?
SB 806. What makes this bill so bad?
First, the bill requires a teacher to be on the job for 10 years instead of five to achieve tenure.
Second, if there is a reduction of the teacher work force, seniority cannot be used to determine who stays and who goes. Meaning, even with tenure, a good teacher can still be out of a job for other reasons – such as making too much money.
Third, if there is a reduction of the non-certified work force, seniority cannot be used as a criterion to determine who stays and who goes.
Simply put, this bill focuses on killing the unions representing those who are responsible to educate our kids.
This is more than a simple disconnect between the needs to improve our public school system and punishing those who educate.
This from the men and women who call themselves "patriots" and say they believe in American exceptionalism and family values, while rejecting the idea of public education. Or who want to take funds needed for a public education and give it to religious schools? Or requiring public schools to meet testing criteria that private schools do not.
The same men and women who now want to destroy what made America exceptional in the first place – our public education system. Horace Mann, who showed the "integral relationship between education, freedom and Republican government," is rolling in his grave.
Take SB 806 and add some of the lowest teacher salaries in the country. Add the lack of support from the conservative Christian and tea party movements. Add the lack of support from the citizens in some Missouri school districts who rejected funding increases to make up the state's financial short sightedness. The total? The lack of the best and brightest staying or coming to Missouri to teach, further degrading our kids’ education.
It will not stop here.
Is the corrupting of our science programs next? Will Missouri follow Texas and Tennessee by passing its own "Monkey Trial" bill, allowing creationism in any of its forms taught next to evolution, biology and other life sciences? Will Missouri's conservatives follow in the footsteps of Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney claiming that a college education is overrated? Will they deny access to books and other material because it might contain "religiously-offensive language," as in Athens, Ga.? Their religion, of course.
This is a slippery slope, but we have seen these very results in other states.
SB 806 is a bad idea, as are the attempts to institute voucher systems, the blaming of teachers for students who have no incentive to achieve, the severe underfunding schools or the desire that the public believe God will solve our problems if the children would only go to parochial schools.
I just do not understand how one can support a legislator who wants to kill the American dream of an education, a home and a successful career. Can you?
David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.