Dust off your one-room school buildings and give them a new coat of paint. The Missouri legislature has lost sight of a principle upon which our state was founded and is sending us backwards toward the days of one-room schools with their vote to override Gov. Nixon’s veto of SB509.
In the 1821 Missouri Constitution, Article VI, Section 1 entitled, “Of Education,” Missouri’s founding fathers’ intentions are clearly stated when it comes to education. They memorialized their intentions in these words:
“Schools, and the means of education, shall forever be encouraged in this state; and the general assembly shall take measures to preserve, from waste or damage, such lands as have been, or may hereafter be, granted by the United States for the use of schools within each township in this state ….”
I have shortened and paraphrased this as: “Education shall always be a priority in this state ….”
These words need to be our guide today when faced with addressing and tailoring special interest legislation that destabilizes and “guts” public school education.
Our area legislators failed to remember and support this when they voted along party lines to override the governor’s veto of SB509. It is clear that the general assembly no longer considers public school education a priority nor does it feel an obligation to “encourage” education, in accordance with its constitutional mandate.
Our students are the future of this state, and their future, Missouri’s future, has been sold out to the special interests of a few millionaires. I wonder what good all their money could have done if they had been interested in supporting public education. What if they had worked to produce a more positive outcome by bolstering public schools, listening to the concerns of educators and students, administrators and parents. They may have spent their money on these narrow causes, but long after they’re gone, the people of Missouri will be paying the price.