There is no one-size-fits-all higher-education model. Instead of attending a four-year college or university, some students want to acquire real world skills for work in specific industries. We have to embrace other educational avenues to ensure that all students have a chance to receive the training they need to compete for jobs currently available and the ones of the future.
One of my highest priorities since being elected to the Senate has been increasing the role of career technical training in our state’s education system. As a former career tech teacher, I’m familiar with how these programs provide valuable educational opportunities to citizens. They are a huge benefit to our state and a critical part of training our state workforce.
I was happy, then, to see the creation of innovation campuses last year, which focus on STEM, science, mathematics, engineering and technology. These programs allow higher education institutions and certain businesses to work together to create accelerated degree programs in high-tech fields.
This year, I sponsored Senate Bill 729, which creates a tax credit for companies that donate to innovation campuses. This brings the business community into the state’s efforts to keep our workforce competitive. By allowing businesses to donate to these campuses, we can increase revenue for STEM innovation campuses.
The House version of my legislation, House Bill 1459, which I carried in the Senate, reached the governor’s desk this week. It’s another strong step toward supporting career technical education in Missouri, specifically in the areas of STEM.
Keeping with education, we also began debating legislation this week dealing with Common Core. These standards were created a few years ago to make students equally competitive across the nation. However, many parents were completely left in the dark regarding the implementation of these new standards. Many people still don’t know, which reflects just how poorly this process was carried out. Parents should always be involved in changes to their child’s education. That generally wasn’t the case with Common Core.
House Bill 1490, which was third read and passed this week, is the culmination of a tremendous amount of work to address the issue. The bill creates an open and transparent process so that the new standards are under public scrutiny. It would also add local input to the curriculum set by schools. We will continue working on this measure in the coming weeks.
On a lighter note, this week I was proud to keep alive a tradition we have in the Senate of members inviting local restaurants to the Capitol to cater a meal for the Senate staff. I was honored to welcome the famous Baylee Jo’s on Wednesday. The barbeque received rave reviews and was a welcome treat for staff members who have worked a lot of long hours this year. My thanks goes to Chris, Wendy and staff from Baylee Jo’s for making the long drive and providing a wonderful meal. Also at the Capitol this week was local radio personality Louie Seiberlich from KREI. While in Jefferson City, he visited with legislators from our area and spoke with other state officials.
I was happy to welcome a number of guests to the Capitol this week, including David Bova, Martha Resinger and Terry McDaniel with the Ste. Genevieve RII Board of Education; many members of the Missouri Electric Cooperatives for their advocacy day; Bo Riddle, from Ironton; Tom and Bev Seematter with their daughter Jackie Riggs, from Annapolis; William Tidwell, mayor of Annapolis, and Kelly McCulley, also from Annapolis; and Joe Humphrey, Sam Hostetler and Lonnie Hostetler, constituents from our district.
Thank you to everyone for stopping by.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at 573-751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, Mo. 65101; or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; or www.senate.mo.gov/romine.
This report is filed at the end of each week during the legislative session. This report was filed at the close of business last week.