Education Spending in Missouri
Missouri has been in the news recently because of a deadly twister that left a huge financial and human toll in Joplin, Mo.
As the effects of the natural disaster subside, it’s back to business for Governor Jay Nixon, who is grappling with the realities of a weak state budget. Education spending will inevitably bear the bulk of cost-cutting as Missouri moves forward and disaster aid becomes the priority for spending.
This week, the Kansas City Star reports that Governor Nixon announced $172 million in budget cuts and some of that cost-cutting will come from reductions in aid to colleges, student scholarships and bus services for public school students.
Education budgets have been a tricky subject for many states, but the urgency of disaster relief forces Missouri to take a much closer look at their spending. The toll that public school busing systems will take has parents and educators worried.
This all comes at a time when other changes in Missouri’s education system are making headlines as well.
One such controversy involves a new approach to rating school districts that has educators on the defense. Under the new rating plan, standardized tests will effectively double in frequency. Teachers and administrators are concerned because the rating system includes tracking high school graduates into the future—-a task that will fall on high school administrators.
Among other moves, the new proposed rating system, part of new standards from the state education commission will test high school students in critical areas like math and chemistry. The education commission argues that such measures would ensure students stay competitive in important subjects. It’s hard to argue with the intentions as U.S. students consistently scores low in the critical areas of math and science when compared with their counterparts overseas.
The consequences of Misssouri’s proposed new rating standards are important for school districts that must revise their standards and curriculums to meet the demands of the new rating criteria. Those who do not comply may lose accreditation, but others note that such standards will be difficult to enforce due to the budget constraints. Some of the proposed measures will take years to implement and are contingent on budget allowance.
It remains to be seen how Missouri will cope with high standards and big goals set against the realistic backdrop of slashed budgets and ongoing disagreements between lawmakers and educators.
It’s a story being played out across the country, and at the core are good intentions mixed with real-world constraints.
Read more about Missouri’s budget cuts here.