The first bill that I filed in my first year in office was to require the state to pay the education funding formula in full. To make the budget work, the state had been prorating (shorting) local school districts every year by an unknown amount that would leave local districts scrambling to balance their budget. Education funding reform discussions were underway in 2017 which would bring about fairer calculations and a more stable stream of money to local districts in need. When a compromise was reached, I stood up on the House Floor in support of the bill and spoke for its passage. That has brought additional billons of dollars to classrooms across the state.
Understanding how teachers and students succeed together
Every parent with school age or older children can remember the first day that they dropped off their child at the bus stop or the door of the school hoping with fingers crossed that the first day goes well and that their child is fully prepared for the challenge.
Imagine all the work that is being done from the teachers’ and the school’s perspectives to make sure that their team is prepared to receive each student, learn each student’s needs and skills, and give each student the opportunity to succeed helping each student to feel challenged and supported all at the same time.
That school and student preparation is supported (at least partially) with funding from the state that brings lots of strings with it in the form of regulations. Add a growing list of unfunded mandates and safety concerns and attention moves from student growth to compliance.
Teachers have a tough job. Parents have a tough job. Springfield shouldn’t make it even tougher. Lawmakers need to work with teachers and parents to find a supportive balance.
Working with teachers and our local school districts to understand what is needed to support students will bring us to the right legislative solutions.
Keith R. Wheeler