Candidate Blunt touts education plan in Cape stop

Thursday, July 1, 2004

No more withholding of appropriated education funds and no more using schools as political pawns: That's the promise gubernatorial candidate Matt Blunt gave to local educators and politicians Wednesday in Cape Girardeau.

Blunt, a Republican, announced his education plan, dubbed "New Ideas for Excellent Schools," during a news conference at Alma Schrader Elementary School.

Blunt addressed educators' questions about funding, teacher compensation and special education. One of the biggest issues addressed was the implementation of federal mandates such as the No Child Left Behind Act, which places unprecedented requirements on schools.

"As governor, I have to recognize that I don't have direct control over what happens in Washington, D.C.," Blunt said. "But I want to make sure I'm an advocate in D.C. and that my state's representation there knows where I stand."

Also discussed was the ongoing lawsuit over the fairness of the state's funding system, known as the foundation formula.

"We'll have to write a new formula, everyone agrees on that," Blunt said. "But I'm disappointed that we really seem to be waiting for the courts to tell us to write a new formula. The process should begin now."

Blunt's plan addresses 19 issues revolving around elementary, secondary and higher education in Missouri.

Key components of Blunt's plan include:

Always delivering more education funding to schools than they received the previous year.

Addressing teacher pay.

Eliminating bureaucratic regulations.

Giving teachers flexibility in testing mandates.

Emphasizing math and science in curriculum .

Addressing college tuition increases.

"That's what the state needs. For too long there's been bickering about education and nothing's been done," said Gene Brunkhorst, a Southeast Missouri State University professor and Missouri State Teachers Association member who attended the news conference. "The ideas Matt has communicated are progressive and exciting."

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