What is happening:
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently reported that new members of the State Board of Education are asking to call a special closed meeting to discuss firing the current Commissioner of Education Dr. Margie Vandeven. While the Missouri Senate has been out of session, Governor Greitens has made five interim appointments to the state board, four due to expiring terms, and one due to a resignation. It has been widely reported that the governor’s office has wished to pursue new leadership for the department.
Why it matters:
While the power to make political appointments resides with the governor, the duties and power of the Missouri State Board of Education are outlined in the Missouri Constitution. The State Board of Education was established as a non-political, bipartisan board of lay members.
This independence has worked by design and has served Missouri students well. With the stability of leadership, isolation from partisan politics, and a constitutional mandate, the State Board has brought Missouri students into the 21st century, held school districts accountable, and continues to work to achieve their one clear goal: make sure all Missouri students will graduate ready for success.
The forced removal of a sitting commissioner has never happened before in Missouri history, it is also completely outside of the norm for new appointees who have never attended a meeting and have not been confirmed by the Senate to make such rash decisions on an expedited time frame without any public explanation for their actions.
What you can do:
The Missouri State Teachers Association continues to fight on your behalf, we are actively engaged on the issue and will continue to work with all stakeholders to preserve an independent State Board of Education, as outlined in Missouri’s Constitution.
MSTA encourages all members to contact the State Board of Education. Please encourage board members to strongly consider their constitutional obligations of maintaining a non-political, independent board that continues the tradition of prioritizing Missouri’s students before politics.
Members of the State Board can be reached through the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org
These emails are disseminated to all members of the board.
MSTA members can also use this link below to find contact information for your State Senator, all newly appointed Board members will be up for Senate confirmation at the start of the legislative session in January.
MSTA will continue to monitor this situation and advocate on your behalf, as this issue evolves we will keep members updated.
Once the legislative session begins, check the weekly MSTA Action for up to date information regarding the legislature and the State Board of Education.