Peruse my thoughts...
So many people complain about the taxes we pay for schools and yet those schools are struggling to keep afloat. Some have gone to 4 day school weeks. Teachers have not received raises in years, classroom sizes are getting larger as teachers retire or leave and are not replaced to save money. The question we should all be asking is if this is affecting the quality of education our children, the future of our country, is receiving. The answer is an overwhelming YES. The question we must ask ourselves and our legislators is this: Is education a priority in Missouri? To be honest and I have said I am brutally honest, I think this is a stupid question to ask. It had better be important because some of those kids are going to be future leaders and bosses and possible Governor or President some day. I want them to know how to spell words correctly, speak intelligently, and simply make good decisions based on fact and using history as a lesson on what worked and what didn't.
In our district the teachers average salary is $34,000. They have gone to college, some have student loans to pay back, some are supporting families, some are continuing their education as that is a requirement for a teacher to stay certified to teach. But I digress. The topic I want to talk about is this : Can someone tell me why the legislature each year discusses and argues about whether it should fully fund education? And to be honest they have NOT fully funded education since the Boats went in and started giving money to our schools. Yes, you read that right, "WE" are not fully funding education. Remember when we voted to allow riverboat gambling and everyone was fairly excited that there would be lots of revenue off the boats going directly to education? I have heard a lot of people ask what happened to that idea? Why didn't it happen? Well, it did .
The riverboat casinos actually do give to our schools. Since they started in 1994 they have given 6.6 Billion to Missouri Education. The problem and reason we don't see any change or difference is because the legislature decided that since schools were getting extra money the State did not have to pay as much! So what happened to the casino money meant for our schools? Basically our legislators stole it, diverted it, gave it to another area, who knows!?! We need to stop diverting money for what used to be a priority for our future and get our schools back in shape. The ones who have suffered the most are the rural schools. If we had better, full funding PLUS the extra given by the casinos we could hire teachers, keep more of the better teachers, purchase newer textbooks, computers for classroom use, expand our Band, Industrial Arts, Family and Consumer Science, Art and Business classes. Did you know those are being cut because they are too expensive to keep? Keeping buses running and picking up our students a priority? The reason some schools have gone to a 4 day week is to save money on this...
The time to do this is Right Now. If we don't correct and fully fund our schools we are not fully funding our future. I am a retired educator. This is a priority to me. I have been in the schools and have seen the shortcuts and dollar pinching that goes on; and that was in Blue Springs. One of the largest, most supported districts in the area. What are our small schools doing? Santa Fe in Waverly? Wellington- Napoleon? Higginsville? and the others?