Vote to oust Missouri Education Commissioner results in tie

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Superintendents from across Missouri including several in the metro are worried about Gov. Eric Greitens's vision for education. Many even traveled to Jefferson City Tuesday as a critical vote took place over who leads the future for Missouri schools.

In a tie vote, Missouri Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven kept her job today.

During the last two months, Greitens has filled five out of the eight seats on the state board of education with his appointees – some believe his goal is to get rid of Vandeven.

He even made an appointment less than an hour before Tuesday morning's vote.

Some superintendents across the metro, including Dr. Dan Clemens in North Kansas City, say they're stumped by the lack of transparency.

"It's hard for me to tell what's going on with the governor, he hasn't released a press release or communicated with superintendents throughout the state so I don't know what he was thinking by making the assignment," Clemens said.

Educators believe the governor wants to increase the numbers of charter schools within Missouri under the belief that it would promote competition. Public schools disagree.

"In North Kansas City, we compete with each other. We have lots of opportunities to show that. Whether that's through our national Blue Ribbon schools or Missouri starter schools or other programs like that," Clemens said.

Clemens points out charter schools aren't always successful.

"They've lost some resources to the charter schools which makes it difficult for them to have all the programs they needed to have successful schools and comprehensive high schools," Clemens said. 

Greitens wrote in a lengthy statement about education but didn't mention the vote.

“Let me tell you why we're fighting so hard for kids and teachers in Missouri.

Today, the system works for insiders and bureaucrats who get paid real well, but it fails too many students, families, and teachers.

We know insiders and bureaucrats will lie. You deserve to know the facts.

Here's a lie: Missourians don't give enough tax money to schools.

Here are the facts: Missourians spend about the national average on our schools.

I support public schools, and our team supports public schools. We made education a priority. We put more money into schools than ever before in Missouri history. We fully funded K-12 education for the first time in years, and we added $64.6 million to the K-12 budget.

Where did that money go? Bureaucrats took it.

In our schools, we've got too many bureaucrats. We’re top ten in the country for our number of school administrators. And they’re well paid. In fact, in Missouri, administrator pay has been increasing more than twice as fast as teacher pay. Several administrators make more than $250,000.00 a year. Six figures.

That money should go into the classroom. It should go to teachers.

Our teachers deserve to get paid more. Missouri is ranked 40th in the country in teacher pay. Our pay for starting teachers: 48th in the country. Third worst in the nation.

Our teachers deserve better. Our students also deserve better.

Here's a lie: The bureaucrats say our schools are doing just fine, that there's no need for change.

Here are the facts: We need to support teachers, because our schools have been getting worse. From 2009 to 2015, Missouri fell from 18th to 28th in fourth-grade reading and from 23rd to 32nd in eighth-grade math.

In fact, even if they graduate, according to ACT testing, three out of every four Missouri kids aren't fully ready for college. Education Week gave Missouri a D+ for K-12 achievement.

This year, we put more money into education than ever before-but the bureaucrats cut the ACT for high schoolers.

These aren't opinions. They are facts.

Schools should serve kids. Our kids and families deserve better. They deserve the truth.

Here’s why bureaucrats are lying: they’re desperate to prevent change. If things change and people start asking hard questions, they will have to provide clear answers.

Question: This year, Missouri’s schools got more money than ever before, so how come teachers didn’t get a bigger raise? Where did the money go?

Question: How come our administrator pay has been rising more than twice as fast as teacher pay?

These are the facts. These are the questions that need to be asked.

There are a lot of people committed to the status quo. They've been willing to harass and intimidate anyone who stands up to them. That won't stop us from doing what's right. We're fighting to get results for Missouri teachers and students.”

Meanwhile, Vandeven released a one-sentence statement that read: "I look forward to the focus returning to educating our children".

The state board of education meets again on Dec. 1.

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