Opportunity knocked, but no one answered

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

In response to Jay Nixon's good-faith effort to stop the lawsuit filed by the Committee for Educational Equality against the state, we only have to look into the past to find how often the leadership of the Missouri General Assembly has failed to adhere to the provisions of the Missouri Constitution.

Article IX, Section 1a of the Missouri Constitution states, "A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the general assembly shall establish and maintain free public schools for the gratuitous instruction of all persons in this state within ages not in excess of twenty-one years as prescribed by law."

Educators have insisted that adequate and equal funding be provided to all public school students.

Local school board members, professional organization leaders, teachers and superintendents have provided evidence that detail the inequities that exist from one school to another.

As an example, funding for this fiscal year alone is underfunded by an estimated $600 million when looking at the school foundation formula.

Mr. Nixon's assumption that the problem with funding will be fixed based on campaign promises and political rhetoric presented during an election year is only an attempt to delay the process of the lawsuit.

Any further delays will only be hurtful to the many students that have been treated inequitably and inadequately for several years.

A court-ordered solution is the only resort, not the last resort as stated by Mr. Nixon.

The new leadership must understand its duty to uphold the Missouri Constitution. It is my hope through the process of the lawsuit the courts will cause the General Assembly to fund public education at the levels necessary to educate the children of this great state of Missouri.

Scott Downing is superintendent of schools in the East Prairie School District.

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