The legislature released its report on education late last Friday, and, as promised, we have the results of Educated Citizenry 2020. No surprises. Just lots of Race To The Top, repackaged and renamed. While the report states what the legislature has for the vision of Missouri education reform, in the next ten years, it is clear they have been cooking up their plan for quite sometime in the past. Past and current attempts to pass legislation, which could have or will impose new and stifling regulation, is written all over it.
The report clearly outlines the intention of the state to have its hand in every aspect of education from early childhood education, pre-school through college. They also address the expansion of Charter and virtual schools.
Committee members’ ideas for early childhood education included expansion of opportunities and assurances of quality. The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education concurred with this priority and in a written statement noted their suggestion that “Missouri fund voluntary, universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds…This would be a transformational policy that would pay long-term benefits— educationally, economically, and socially—for our state.”5 ….
…. For higher education reform, Committee members emphasized reducing tuition costs to keep higher education accessible to all students so as to ultimately increase the number of young adults who earn a postsecondary degree.
A study of how teachers are compensated is a subject of review, as it is in RTTT. Current RTTT recommendations are to introduce merit pay and eliminate teacher tenure. The same sentiments are reflected in the Educated Citizenry 2020 Report. The St. Louis Beacon reports, among other things, that State Senator, David Pearce, a Republican from Warrensburg, intends to use this report to shape further legislation.
On specific issues, Pearce said that he has filed legislation to study how teachers are compensated. Specifically, he said, it might be time to ask teachers if they are willing to be paid on a merit basis if they would give up the protections of tenure at the same time.
While Charter schools and the re-structure of teacher compensation are a major emphasis of Race To The Top, most interesting to note is that the report does stress an emphasis in preparing pre kindergarten age children for school. If you will remember, Homeschooling United reported that Robin Wright-Jones, a member of the E-C 2020 committee, has already filed legislation, before this report was released to the public, which mandates full day kindergarten and lowers the compulsory school age to 4 years of age in SB21. It seems that the fix is already in for an agenda to wrest control of decisions from parents regarding when their children begin their educations.
This report, while full of a great deal of educational-ease, doesn’t address funding for plan implementation when the state is faced with serious budget cuts in the face of mandatory of Common Core Standards. Obviously they are also not concerned with any backlash from parents who consider some of these mandates are an infringement of parental rights. Senator Jane Cunningham, another member of this committee, has pledged to uphold educational freedom. As far as I see, from reading this report, there is no true attempt by the legislature to bring any meaningful reform to education in Missouri. In fact, there are even more intrusive restrictions that keep parent’s in the driver’s seats of their children’s education.