Lincoln University hosts education policy-focused retreat for state lawmakers

Leaders of the Senate’s education and House workforce development committees said Tuesday they looked forward to the sharing of ideas about education-policy topics including teacher recruitment and retention at a two-day retreat for Missouri legislators at Lincoln University.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft teamed up with The Hunt Institute to offer the retreat, “Elevating Education in Missouri.”

The four co-chairs of the retreat are Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Ashcroft, Sen. Gary Romine and Rep. Kathryn Swan, who worked with The Hunt Institute to develop the agenda for the event.

The Hunt Institute is an affiliate of the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, established in 2001. “The Institute brings together people and resources that help build and nurture visionary leadership and mobilize strategic action for greater educational outcomes and student success,” according to a news release from The Hunt Institute.

Romine, R-Farmington, is the Chairman of the Senate education committee. Swan, R-Cape Girardeau, is the Chairwoman of the House workforce development committee.

Ashcroft said he was a Hunt Institute fellow in 2017, and the Institute did not push certain policy solutions or agendas over others, but instead highlighted “what was working where, and not working elsewhere.”

He added while issues in education will vary by location, the number one indicator for how well a child will do in school is parental involvement, and the state needs to incentivize that involvement.

Lincoln University in January hosted a retreat by The Hunt Institute for state lawmakers.

Those in attendance hear presentations from education experts and can interrupt to ask questions.

Ashcroft said it’s a chance “to ask questions and discuss before bills are filed.”

“We tried to think of different topics than what we discussed last time,” Swan said.

Romine said teacher retention and recruitment is a key issue, especially in rural areas.

Swan agreed, adding the necessity of children being ready for kindergarten as well as career and technical education as other important issues.

Though only the opening remarks for the retreat were open to media, the retreat agenda showed Tuesday’s presentations were to include “Equity Begins Early: Advancing Prenatal to Age Three Policies,” “Innovative Approaches for Equitable School Discipline,” “Flexibility, Data and Accountability,” “Teacher Recruitment & Retention in Hard-to-Staff Schools” and “Professional Perspectives: Recruiting Top Talent in Hard-to-Staff Schools.”

The “Recruiting Top Talent” presentation was to include the expertise of Eldon R-1’s Superintendent Matt Davis and Eldon High School Principal Kris Harwood, in addition to school officials from districts and collaboratives in Kansas City, Ferguson-Florissant, Richland, Crane R-3 and Normandy.

Davis was also scheduled to moderate this morning’s presentation on “Course Access in Rural Schools.” Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Peter Stiepleman was scheduled to moderate this morning’s “School Funding in Missouri: The Role of State & Local Government.”

Today’s event agenda also included “Career & Technical Education Frameworks throughout the K-12 Continuum.”

John Shikles was listed among about two dozen resource experts to be involved with the retreat, also including representatives of ACT; the Center for American Progress; the Council on Public Higher Education; Battelle for Kids; the Community Foundation of the Ozarks; KC Rising; the Center for Responsive Schools; and Missouri Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support.

Shikles, policy counsel with Gov. Mike Parson’s office, was scheduled this afternoon to be part of the “Equity Begins Early” presentation discussing advancement of policies to integrate and advance early childhood education, prenatal to age 3.

Missouri received a grant in April from the National Governors Association to develop and implement those policies.

Also this spring, The Hunt Institute, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Education Commission of the States partnered with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to form the Commissioner’s Education Policy Committee.

DESE Commissioner Margie Vandeven and former Missouri Sen. David Pearce, who chairs the Commissioner’s Education Policy Committee, were scheduled this morning to present the committee’s recommendations to legislators and review progress made since the report was presented to the State Board of Education.

All members of education and workforce-related committees from the House and Senate were invited to attend, as well as leadership from both legislative chambers. About 30 state legislators were registered for the retreat, according to The Hunt Institute.