Jun 21

The Challenge Of Summer For Missouri’s Children

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – For most children in Missouri, summer is the time to relax and enjoy the break from school.

For others, it’s a time to find a short term job and save money. It’s also a time to hone athletic skills with an eye on soccer, football, volleyball and other sports that are just a few months away. Summer equates to freedom for children and teens across the state.

Most of the time.

For others, summer is the time some experts say children – particularly those in low income homes – fall behind their classmates.MWSnap103

This week, Missouri’s Assistant Commissioner of Education, Dr. Sharon Helwig, explains why being away from the classroom impacts poorer children more than those from middle and upper income homes. While teachers are likely to tell you all children need to brush up on their schoolwork the first few weeks of class each school year, Helwig says an academic gap is sometimes created over the summer months that everyone should be concerned about.

Find out why income matters and what every parent can do to keep their child ready for the next challenge in their education.

Also, the school year is about more than just books, ball games and band practice. For thousands of Missouri children, it’s also about food because the free and reduced meals may be the only solid nutrition they get.MWSnap105

Monica Palmer from Feeding Missouri has the startling numbers about “food insecurity” in the Show Me State. That’s a nice way of categorizing the number of families who are choosing between bills and groceries each month. When school ends for the year, so does the supply of free or reduced meals for some children. Missouri’s network of food banks has many backpack programs (sometimes called “Buddy Packs”) for kids in need that allows them to take food home but even access to that ends on the last day of school.

For those still in need during the summer, Palmer has advice on accessing nutrition for the whole family. For those of us blessed enough to not have to worry about our next meal, she explains how easy it is to help. She also says you may be surprised by who is in need of help with food right now. Food insecurity is in neighborhoods you probably don’t expect.

Feeding Missouri and its network of food banks is not a government program . It relies on donations of canned and boxed food, fresh food from gardens, volunteers and money.

On the web:

Missouri Department of Education: www.DESE.MO.gov

Feeding Missouri: www.FeedingMissouri.org

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/the-challenge-of-summer-for-missouris-children/

Jun 14

What’s Next? Missouri Politics Update.

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – The political debates that impact all our lives are not over. We’re just in between rounds.

This week, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) and former Democratic State Representative Jeanette Mott Oxford, who is now the executive director of Empower Missouri, assess the work done in Jefferson City so far. They also discuss what they hope will happen, and will not happen, in the veto session.MWSnap101

Medicaid expansion supporters says there’s been progress in their efforts to convince Missouri lawmakers to add more people to the roles as part of the Affordable Care Act – typically known as “ObamaCare”. Progress or not, Kinder still thinks the proposal will not make it to the Governor’s desk even if it’s proposed again next year. Saying Medicaid expansion will crowd out funding for crucial state priorities, including education, the Lt. Governor is glad the Republican controlled Legislature is holding firm against expansion.

Mott Oxford disagrees and believes the state’s economy is being harmed by the refusal to expand the program.MWSnap102

The upcoming veto session will include another round of debate and possibly a vote on whether to override Governor Nixon’s veto of the “Right To Work” bill. That bill cleared both chambers of the Legislature for the first time in 2015 but not with the number of votes needed for an override. Kinder believes there is still a chance for a successful override. Mott does not and hopes the veto stands, saying the state should support unions.

The veto session takes place in September.

On the web:

Lt. Governor Peter Kinder:  http://ltgov.mo.gov/

Empower Missouri: http://empowermissouri.org/Wdp2014/

 

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/whats-next-missouri-politics-update/

Jun 07

Free Markets and School Choice: New Ideas In Education For Missouri

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) –

Providing options to the educational status quo. That’s what we highlight this week.

The Robert W. Plaster Foundation exists to financially support the teaching of a free enterprise/ free markets-based approach to economics. This Missouri-based organization partners with colleges and universities to fund the facilities needed to grow their educational efforts. Robert W. Plaster’s daughter, Dr. Dolly Plaster-Clement, explains why they feel this effort is important and describes the impact they hope to have.MWSnap099

While the limited-government approach to economics is not new in itself, it seems to run counter to what’s taught in many institutions of higher learning in the US these days. Dr. Plaster-Clement explains why the Roberts W. Plaster Foundation is involved through financial investments in higher education, but public and private.

Also, the Show Me Institute* provides a special report on a unique charter school in western Missouri. It’s set up to provide a second chance to “at risk” students who could easily fall through the cracks in a traditional public school setting. Brittany Wagner reports on what’s being done differently at DeLaSalle Education Center.MWSnap100

The school and the approach have critics who say testing and graduation data show the school is not measuring up to other public schools. Brittany says that is not the whole picture and it’s not a fair comparison. She and other critics of the argument want some changes to the state’s accountability system for charter schools, especially for DeLaSalle which specifically works with young people who are “at risk” or are coming back to school for a second chance at an education.

On the web:

Robert W. Plaster Foundation: http://robertwplasterfoundation.org/

Show Me Institute: http://showmeinstitute.org/

DeLaSalle Education Center: http://www.delasallecenter.org/

* Note/Disclosure: The Show Me Institute is a sponsor of “Missouri Viewpoints” 

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/free-markets-and-school-choice-new-ideas-in-education-for-missouri/

May 31

Police Controversies in Missouri

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – What started in Ferguson ignited protests, violence and debate across America in 2014. Activists, politicians, media pundits and social media have had (and continue to have) their say about the state of law enforcement in our state. Now, we hear from the law enforcement community through a discussion with Sgt. Kevin Ahlbrand who is the President of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police.MWSnap096

He answers some of the criticisms of police in recent months including claims from protesters and even, to some degree, President Obama, that law enforcement has become to “militarized”. Ahlbrand also explains why he believes police are in favor of some of the government reforms promoted in the recent legislative session that limit how much money a city can collect in revenue from traffic tickets.

Ahlbrand offers his thoughts on what can be done to restore positive relationships between police and communities affected by the recent violence and protests as well.

 

MWSnap097

Also, Dave Roland, an attorney who represents Show Me Cannabis, explains why lawsuits are being filed against drug task forces across the state. The activist group is accusing some of the task forces in Missouri – comprised of officers, detectives and resources from multiple agencies – often violate the state’s Sunshine Law.

On the web:

Missouri Fraternal Order of Police: www.mofop.org

Show Me Cannabis: show-mecannabis.com

 

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/police-controversies-in-missouri/

May 24

Renewable Energy: Are Solar Panels Welcome in Your Neighborhood?

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – More Missourians want to put solar panels on their homes to cut costs and to reduce their traditional energy usage. For the most part, everyone is in favor of more renewable energy being used.

So what’s the problem?MWSnap093

In some places, neighborhood associations and local governments have rules that restrict or even ban them. In others, the rules (and covenants) were simply written before renewable energy became mass produced enough to be available to homeowners.

Is access to solar energy a property right that should be protected by the law, even if it runs afoul of agreements like homeowners association rules? Or is it another aspect of home ownership that is subject to the same rules and regulations as everything else, like fences and sheds?MWSnap094

Solar energy advocate Frances Babb, who works with Renew Missouri, has been in that legal battle before. She explains why she doesn’t want homeowners associations – or anyone else – stopping the use of solar energy in Missouri.

Patrick McClanahan and Marvin Nodiff from the Community Associations Institute, which represents homeowners associations throughout Missouri and the nation, say it’s not that simple. While they are in favor of using renewable energy, they say there are other issues involved.

On the web:

Renew Missouri: www.RenewMO.org

Community Associations Institute: www.CAIonline.org

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/renewable-energy-are-solar-panels-welcome-in-your-neighborhood/

May 17

New Ideas For Missouri’s Justice System

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) –  Missouri’s courts, police and the justice system in general have been in the headlines almost constantly for the past nine months. From the violence in Ferguson, MO to “speed traps” some lawmakers call “taxation by citation”, calls for reforms are coming from both sides of the political aisle. Regardless of what happens as of the end of the Legislative Session, these are issues that will stay in the news and will continue to be debated.MWSnap091

This week, State Rep. Paul Curtman (R) discusses some of the reforms being considered by the State Legislature. From limiting how much cities can collect in revenues from speeding tickets to the use of red light cameras to proposed changes to what police officers are allowed to do in cases where force is used, there could be major changes coming to the state.

Also, a special court program being used in central Missouri is already showing results. Judge Michael Bradley explains Boone County’s Veterans Treatment Court, which provides a path for vets who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. It’s a system that could be used throughout the state soon.MWSnap092

The specialized court works with vets who have already pleaded guilty to some crimes but may be dealing with issues that contributed to their choices. These could include PTSD, mental illness or substance abuse. The concept is simple: provide help, mentoring and a structure to address the deeper challenges these men and women carry every day.

Missouri-based Veterans United funded the creation of the court and provides a special video report used in this week’s program.

On the web:

Rep. Paul Curtman: www.PaulCurtman.com

Veterans United Foundation: www.veteransunited.com/about/foundation/

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/new-ideas-for-missouris-justice-system/

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