The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced today that currently, 538 public schools have shut their doors due to COVID-19 concerns. There are a total of 555 in the state. Unfortunately, each district superintendent, in consultation with their building principals and school board members, had to make this decision on their own. Where’s the executive leadership in Missouri?
Missouri’s Governor Shows Lack of Executive Leadership
Unfortunately, Governor Mike Parson (R) refused to close P-12 schools statewide, leaving it up to each district. This is in contrast to governors from numerous other states, including Illinois, Kansas, Arkansas, Ohio, West Virginia, Washington, New York, California, and more. Those governors took executive action by shutting schools down entirely or moving instruction online. In some cases, this will last a few weeks but in others students won’t return to school until the fall.
Governor Parson responded to criticism from parents, educators, and the general public today by doubling down on his decision not to make a decision. In a news conference held in Columbia, he reasoned that because schools in Missouri are so diverse, what may be good for one district may not be good for another.
While it’s certainly true that the Show-Me State has diversity across school districts, so do other states. The question becomes: How can the governors from those other states make the tough decision to protect their youngest residents when Missouri’s governor can’t?
We know running a state in challenging times is difficult. But making tough decisions in a time of crisis is part of the job. It’s time to step up and show some executive leadership, Governor.
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