JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The hits keep coming as more and more lawmaker and officials express their displeasure with the attempt by Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration to oust Dr. Margie Vandeven, the commissioner for the Missouri State Board of Education.
Earlier this week, officials from several education groups shared their concerns about the “politicization” of the State Board of Education following news that the Governor had appointed a fifth member to the board in hopes of achieving a majority vote on the board.
“Recent actions by Gov. Eric Greitens and several newly appointed board members highlight the important safeguards the framers of the Missouri Constitution put in place to ensure that public education in Missouri remained focused on what is best for students, not politicians,” a letter from Bruce Moe, the Executive Director of the Missouri State Teachers Association, read.
One legislator issued a statement earlier this week, calling on the board members to delay the hearing scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Nov. 21.
On Wednesday, three more Missouri lawmakers added their voice to the call, with Sen Gary Romine, Rep. Kathy Swan and Rep. Lyle Rowland penning a letter to the board and cc’ing Gov. Greitens on it. Romine serves as the Senate chair on Education, while Swan serves as the House chair for the Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education. Rowland is the chair of the House appropriations subcommittee on education.
“We find the latest developments regarding the Missouri State Board of Education to be puzzling and deeply troubling,” the letter reads.
The letter goes on to outline how Vandeven has worked to build relationships with legislators, educators, parents, and the business community, as well as her success in furthering the goals for public education in the Show-Me State.
“Given her success in these efforts, recent rumblings regarding any action to be taken by the State Board of Education to replace the Commissioner are quite perplexing<‘ the lawmakers’ letter continued. “Five newly appointed, yet unconfirmed, board members have not had ample time to learn the complexities of public education, much less be able to make informed personnel decisions based upon their own experiences in working with the Department.
“Nearly one million children in our state depend on us making good public policy and efforts to replace Commissioner Vandeven only distract from the issues that we must work together to address.
“We urge the State Board of Education to abandon efforts to remove Commissioner Vandeven.”
The Board is scheduled to meet Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 10 a.m. for a closed meeting.
Read the letter below:
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.