Interim Education Committee to Begin First Leg of Statewide Tour Sept. 23

JEFFERSON CITY – An interim House committee will hit the road at the end of September to receive input from Missouri citizens on ways to improve the state’s system of education. The committee will hold a series of hearings from Sept. 23 – 25 in St. Louis, as well as southeast and southwest Missouri.

State Rep. Steve Cookson, who chairs the committee along with Vice Chair Rep. Lyle Rowland, said the committee expects an overwhelming response from concerned citizens and is taking steps to ensure each hearing is run in a structured and orderly manner. Cookson said witnesses will be asked to sign in with an indicated topic of interest they wish to address. Each topic will then be given 15 minutes of discussion that will be divided evenly among individuals who have signed up to testify. The committee may revisit or address new topics at the end of each hearing with time remaining.

“My hope is that we can have hearings that are extremely focused and efficient so that we can engage in a brief but informative dialogue on the major issues facing our system of education,” said Cookson, R-Poplar Bluff. “Given the limited time we will have at each stop we will not be able to address each issue at great length, but we will be able to gain a much better understanding of the issues that are of concern to Missourians in each area of the state. I think this will be extremely helpful in developing a big picture view of the areas we need to focus on legislatively in the coming session.”

The topics the committee plans to discuss are:

• Transfer of Students and a Statewide Plan for Addressing Persistently Low Achieving and Failing School Districts

• Early Childhood Education

• Quality Educator Evaluations and Quality Educator Preparation Programs

• School calendar and increased hours of instruction, remediation and acceleration

• Common Core Standards

• Virtual Schools and Technology in the 21st Century

• School Safety including bullying, harassment, etc.

• Parent-Community-School Relationships and Transparency

• Wrap-Around Services and Community Education

• College Students’ Perspective on High School Experience

Cookson said the committee is eager to hear from Missourians who are interested in sharing their thoughts on these and other issues that will strengthen the state’s system of education.

The for the tour’s September stops is as follows:

Monday, Sept. 23

• 2 p.m. – Public hearing in St. Charles at St. Charles Community College

• 7 p.m.  – Public hearing in St. Louis at St. Louis Community College – Meramec Campus

Tuesday, Sept. 24

• 2 p.m. – Public hearing in Cape Girardeau at Southeast Missouri State University

• 7 p.m. – Public hearing in Poplar Bluff at Three Rivers Community College

Wednesday, Sept. 25

• 1 p.m. – Public hearing in Branson at the College of the Ozarks

• 7 p.m. – Public hearing in Joplin at Missouri Southern State University

A Northern Missouri, Kansas City-area and Central-Missouri tour is scheduled for Oct. 21-23.  Additional information will be forthcoming regarding this event in the near future.

Cookson stressed that all legislators are welcomed and encouraged to sit in with the committee at any and all committee meetings, especially those in their district and/or area.