The House Interim Committee on Education held a hearing on the University of Central Missouri campus Wednesday afternoon.
The group heard testimony from 13 speakers regarding the state of education in Missouri. Most of the witnesses were teachers, superintendents, or parents of public school students.
District 94 Representative Vicki Englund serves on the committee. She also holds a position on the Lindbergh School District Board of Education.
Click to hear KMZU’s Sarah Scott speak with Englund:
The six hearings held around the state give the legislators a chance to learn about concerns from all kinds of school districts.
“We are a very diverse state, with very diverse school districts. And each school district has its own challenges,” said Englund, “So when we look at some successful school districts, not all the things that successful school districts do are going to be able to be implemented in other districts. Every district is unique. And that’s why, as a school board member as well, we are very much interested in finding that balance between local control of school districts and excellence for all our kids in the state.”
A common theme discussed at all six hearings was early childhood education. School representatives are calling for more of these programs, and hoping for funding from the State.
“Given the fact that the data is so strong on early childhood education, that we have programs in the state that are growing as far as how to train teachers to teach early childhood education, and we really have an economic need for parents who work to make sure their kids are in a safe and educational environment at that early of an age, I think all of those forces together are what will make early childhood education the common thread or the cookie-cutter approach that we can start to use throughout the state.”
Many speakers addressed concerns regarding technology. Englund’s school district currently ranks highest in achievement in the state, and attributes part of that success to technology training.
“Technology is one of those things that we love to talk about. It’s very easy to say every child should have a laptop, or now every child should have an iPad. Making it happen is another thing. This is one are where I think members of the business community can really help.”
Englund proposed a plan that allows businesses to adopt a school and provide students with up-to-date technology. She explains a program like this would end up benefiting the employers once those youth entered the workforce, complete with a thorough education on electronics.
The Committee held these hearings to find a solution to common problems in Missouri Schools. Members intend to propose legislation addressing some of the statewide problems at the next session, which begins on January 8th.