MISSOURI GOV. ERIC GREITENS

Statement of area superintendents concerned with governor:

 We are deeply concerned. Recent actions taken by Gov. Greitens and his team send a clear message: Missouri faces a drastic reshaping of our education landscape. Membership on the Missouri State Board of Education now appears to be limited to those who agree to the demand from Gov. Greitens that the current commissioner of education be terminated.

This is unprecedented and undermines Missouri’s constitution, which designed the State Board of Education to be independent.

We fear that this strategy will culminate in the appointment of an out-of-state charter school advocate with no understanding of our state or region, who intends to bring a national school reform agenda to Missouri that is a proven failure across our country. We implore Gov. Greitens to reconsider. Continuation on this path will harm the educational experience and destroy collaborative progress. 

As southwest Missouri superintendents, we have one simple request for Gov. Greitens: Please visit our school districts. 

We know that Gov. Greitens has a complex, difficult and time-consuming job, but we believe he will find tremendous value in visiting our schools and classrooms. These visits will provide a clear picture of the heroic work happening – thanks to our educators, support staff and community partners. 

By accepting our invitation, Gov. Greitens will have an opportunity to see, first-hand, the thousands of talented Missouri educators in action. It will be clear why our public schools are the cornerstone of our communities. 

Please visit our districts, Gov. Greitens. 

•    See our teachers and communities address the health, hunger and hygiene needs of our students. Many families lack the resources to provide these essentials.

•    See the many opportunities for rigorous and relevant coursework through programs such as advanced placement, International Baccalaureate, dual credit, and career and technical education.

•    See our teachers connect with parents and early learners through Parents as Teachers programs and pre-kindergarten experiences.

•    See our schools engage with business partners to help students test drive high-demand career opportunities through programs like GO CAPS.

•    See our schools work to solve course access challenges through in-district online programs, and LAUNCH – a new partnership involving more than 30 school districts across this region.

•    See our teachers grow through collaborative learning experiences with hundreds of other educators at events like the Innovation Summit and STAR Summit.

•    See the many ways we engage with our parents and community regarding the most important education outcomes. Hear them echo our belief that standardized testing should not be the only measuring stick used to evaluate a student or the school’s quality and impact.

•    See how each of our communities and school districts are unique and how our boards of education serve as effective governing structures to represent our community’s best interest.

Missouri’s 900,000 public education students are counting on our teachers and support teams to work in tandem with families to shape their future. Our 77 districts represent more than 126,000 of those students. Our work is vitally important and it is critical that we get it right. We are at a crossroads, and the steps we take now will leave a lasting impact on many lives – for many years to come.

The attempt to terminate Missouri’s education commissioner is not about children. It’s about politics. We assert that working on behalf of children is the most non-partisan issue of all. Unless Missouri changes course, our students will be the ones who suffer from this political fallout.

Missouri is known as the Show-Me State. We hope that Gov. Greitens will allow us to “show him” exactly how our education community is working collectively to impact the lives of our next generation in a positive way – every day. 

Please visit our districts, Gov. Greitens. The time for conversation and engagement is now.

 This letter was supported by 77 superintendents across southwest Missouri, including Robin Ritchie, Cabool; Allen Moss, Houston; and Kim Hawk, Plato. 

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