Investing in Public Education

An investment in our children is an investment in the future of Missouri, but our public education system is quickly falling behind neighboring states. Regardless of whether your child attends Clarksburg or Columbia public school district, they deserve a quality education. As your representative, I will work to formulate state policies that benefit all of our children. My platform to #SaveMOKids includes:

  • Opposing budget cuts to public K-12 programs
  • Raising wages and retaining pensions for Missouri teachers
  • Opposing private school voucher programs
  • Expanding early childhood education
  • Investing in Missouri’s public colleges and universities
  • Enacting sensible firearm policies for K-12 and higher education institutions
  • Advocating for stronger Title IX provisions to support victims of assault and harassment

Opposing Public Education Budget Cuts

Just last week, under the cover of increasing COVID cases in Missouri and calls for racial justice throughout our country, Governor Parson announced massive budget cuts for K-12 and higher education - $131M and $40.8M, respectively. These cuts include "hold-harmless" districts, or those that tend to be smaller, lower-income districts, which would result in a drastic loss of resources for these children.

These budget cuts are completely unacceptable considering the large corporate tax credits and extremely low corporate tax rate boasted by the Missouri GOP. For example,. beginning January 1, 2020, the corporate income tax rate was reduced from 6.25% to 4.0%. While a low tax rate is vital to supporting our businesses and growing job numbers throughout the state, it's not necessarily target tax breaks that bring businesses in and make them stay.

Yes, it is important the state has a generally friendly business climate, but what is even more essential is a skilled, educated workforce and well-kept infrastructure.

Two areas where Missouri has sorely ignored for many years.

My plan once in office would be to push for a halt to any new corporate tax incentives or breaks until the education budget is balanced and fully funded. We cannot wait until Missouri is 50th in the nation to begin to right the wrongs our legislators have caused and solve the problems in our public education system too long ignored.

Raising Wages & Retaining Teacher Pensions

As legislators, we should be putting in the time, effort, and resources to recruit the best educators possible for our children. However, Missouri continues to provide almost no avenue for districts to recruit new talent and retain the good teachers we currently have. Missouri currently ranks 49th nationally in average teacher starting salary - $32,970, and 39th nationally for average overall teacher salary - $51,220.

This is about $10,000 less than the national average salary.

While that average salary may seem reasonable to some, those numbers are highly inflated by districts in St. Louis and Kansas City. Teacher pay starts below $32,000 in half of southwest Missouri districts - some teachers bringing home around $400 a week.

That is not enough for an individual to survive on let alone a family.

Poor salaries have led teachers to take second, and even third, jobs - causing undue stress for educators and hurting students that may otherwise have received their teacher's full attention.

We need teacher retention and recruitment to be a top priority in Jefferson City, especially for our rural districts. The future of our children and our state rests on ensuring we have a skilled, educated workforce to accelerate Missouri's progress, entrepreneurship, and prosperity.

Opposing School Vouchers

Expansion of Early Childhood Education

Investing in Higher Education

School Safety

To protect our teachers and children, we must reevaluate both school infrastructure and how we respond to violent or concerning behaviors in the classroom.

I am a proponent of the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) Safety and Security Guidelines. These guidelines include infrastructure plans, such as maintaining updated emergency protocols and responsibilities, shared information with law enforcement, fire, and EMS, implementation of physical security standards, and annual assessment of these standards. In additon, safety systems should include visitor management, identification of all faculty, staff, and students while on school grounds, and cybersecurity.

Mandated classroom protocols that ensure the safety of students should includes, but not be limited to: limiting access to classrooms when occupied, establishing building-wide communication systems, maintaining control of building access, video surveillance of public areas, and installation of detection systems and alarms.

I am opposed to arming teachers, staff, and adminstration in our public school districts. Arming individuals with no training in crisis settings puts all those involved at risk. Law enforcement receives approximately 840 hours of basic training, including weapons training, self-defense, and use of force. There is no way for our educators or staff to receive that kind of training themselves. I stand with Everytown and their recommendations on how to protect American school from shootings and violence.

Title IX Protections

Please bear with us as these pages are continuouslly updated!

© 2020 | Paid for by Friends of Kari L Chesney | Sofia Sanchez Salcedo, Treasurer