Missouri Board of Education Narrowly Rebuffs Gov. Greitens
In a closed meeting today, the Missouri Board of Education handed the governor what some observers consider a defeat.
The board discussed potential personnel changes for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. A motion to remove Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven as head of the agency failed in a 4-4 vote. Eddy Justice, Doug Russell, Sonny Jungmeyer and Jennifer Edwards voted for the leadership change. Board President Charlie Shields, Vice President Vic Lenz, Mike Jones and Claudia Oñate Greim voted against the motion.
“I look forward to the focus returning to educating our children,” said Commissioner Vandeven.
In recent weeks, Gov. Eric Greitens has nominated several members to the state board whose confirmations won't be considered by the Senate until January 2018.
The governor himself has declined to comment in detail on his dissatisfaction with Commission Vandeven, but through a spokesman, made a nonspecific reference to statewide test scores not being where they should be.
Published reports indicate Gov. Greitens is pursuing a renowned charter school advocate from Atlanta, GA., as Vandeven's successor.
"I am extremely concerned about the appearance of politicizing the position of State Commissioner of Education," said MRH Board President Katie Kaufman. "Newly appointed board members must be confirmed by the Senate. This is an important step in the process that further allows the concerns of Missouri residents and taxpayers to be addressed. New board members should become familiar with our state educational system, dig into the data of our more than 500 school districts (not counting charters) and the ongoing development of the Missouri School Improvement Plan which residents and educators across the state have already spent significant time and energy on revising. All board members must consider what is in the long term best interest of our state's children, not be beholden to Governor Greitens' agenda."
"Missouri education should not be manipulated by a political agenda and our state board must be free to establish policy and make employment decisions that are best for the nearly one million Missouri public school students," Kaufman added. "I respectfully request that any future attempts to oust State Commissioner Vandeven be met with vehement opposition."
The next meeting of the State Board of Education is set for Friday, Dec. 1, in Jefferson City at the regular meeting location on the first floor of 205 Jefferson Street.
You can use the following email address to reach all State Board members: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.