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JEFFERSON CITY –– Randy Spurlock, vice-president of the Ava School Board, has been selected to serve on the Missouri Public Education Vision Project. Spurlock serves on this project with approximately 100 other school board members and superintendents from across the State. These education leaders gathered Monday, Aug. 30, in Jefferson City to kick off a project that aims to develop a new vision for Missouri’s public schools.
Leaders of the Missouri School Boards’ Association and the Missouri Association of School Administrators — the two organizations that collaborated on the Vision for Missouri Public Education project — were among the speakers who addressed flaws in the public education system and emphasized a need for change.
“One thing we will not tolerate is business as usual,” MSBA President Dave Wright said. “We are dedicated to developing ideas that will literally transform public education in our state.”
During the event in Jefferson City, Education Commissioner Dr. Chris Nicastro stressed a need for Missouri schools to not compete just among themselves but to strive to compete to perform at the top nationally and internationally. Right now, Nicastro said, Missouri’s performance is consistently mediocre.
“Our performance today matches our geography,” she said. “We’re in the middle.”
Dr. Nicastro cited several sources, including Missouri Assessment Program and ACT scores and dropout rates, all of which placed Missouri in the middle of the pack nationally.
“I know that, as a state, we can do better,” she said.
MSBA and MASA approved the vision project last spring and spent the summer planning its future. MSBA Executive Director Dr. Carter Ward said “the national and global focus on education sparked the initiative.”
“We have to establish a vision for K-12 education,” he said.
Monday’s event represented the first of several meetings that will allow teams — made up of school board members, administrators and representatives of MSBA and MASA from across the state — to plan what that vision will look like.
“I have no idea where this is going,” Ward said in his speech. “But I know we have the right people on board.”
Although Ward and the rest of MSBA and MASA do not know the specifics of the plan, they mapped out key areas of focus, including early learning, governance, teaching and learning, and physical and financial resources.
“It all goes back to teaching and learning,” Ward said.
Nicastro stressed the importance of early childhood learning, and preparing effective teachers and leaders.
Tim Waters, CEO of Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning — another organization participating in the project — said the project’s goals can be met without additional funding.
“We have to use resources we have better than we’ve been using them up to now,” he said.
Vision project planning teams will meet again in October. The project’s leaders plan to release a final report for the project at the annual conference in October of 2011.
Spurlock serves on the Financial Resources Committee of the Vision Project. He adds that “it is exciting to serve on this Vision Project. We are history in the making and hopefully we will be able to collaborate together and help public school children in Missouri achieve at the top.”
He further said, “I am honored to have been selected to serve on this project, and hopefully as a member on the Financial Resource Committee I can help bring awareness that finances play the most important role in students success in our rural areas. We all know that with today’s economy it is a challenge to get our children reared without raising tax levies, but what are we to do – with makeshift classrooms in converted houses, portions of our High School nearly 50 years old and portions of our Elementary School nearly 60 years old. Rural areas could really benefit from those dollars that are normally sent to the large urban districts in our state.”