Excerpts from editorials in newspapers across Missouri.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Excerpts from editorials in newspapers across Missouri.

Jan. 31

The Southeast Missourian, on raising salaries of teachers:

Rod Jetton, speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives, has proposed a plan to increase the minimum salary for teachers to $31,000 a year.

Most school districts already exceed the current minimum of $23,000, including all the districts in the Southeast Missourian's coverage area.

One district -- Jackson -- has a minimum salary of $31,000. In all, some 400 of the state's 524 districts would have to increase salaries to meet the proposed new minimum.

Jetton says the extra cost would come from increased state funding. The total bill would be in the neighborhood of $60 million.

But some districts have more pressing needs. They would rather, if the state has the wherewithal to increase school funding, to be able to decide how to put the money to the best use.

And, given the election-year spending increases being tossed around, prudent taxpayers have to wonder where all the money is going to come from. Increases in state revenue, which have helped generate surpluses in Missouri's budgets the last few years, might slow significantly or even disappear if the nation's economy goes into an extended slump.

Paying teachers a decent salary should be the goal of every school district.

That might be considerably more than the $31,000 minimum proposed by Jetton is some areas where it's difficult to attract good teachers. But in other areas, a decent salary might be less than that.

Shouldn't local elected school boards decide how to best spend whatever funding is available to them?

Jan. 29

The Joplin Globe, on sexual abuse in schools:

Parents of children who have been sexually abused in school might wonder why the Missouri Legislature hasn't acted before in requiring closer oversight in the hiring of teachers.

The answer, we suspect, is that until an Associated Press story reported 87 licensed teachers in this state who had lost their credentials for misconduct from 2001 through 2005, no one knew the extent of what was happening.

According to the AP, one Missouri teacher reportedly worked in three school districts after being allowed to quietly resign following allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse.

Another teacher was awarded tenure despite a letter of admonishment in his file after a student complained of sexual harassment.

Those who are responsible for district oversight keep the dirty little secrets to themselves rather than passing the information on to other districts or other states.

But it isn't just a Missouri problem. Nationwide, more than 2,500 teachers lost their credentials for abuse.

It is unconscionable that a school administration might allow a teacher alleged to have committed sexual misconduct with a student to seek employment in unsuspecting districts in this state or, for that matter, in any other state.