Jul 26

Should Missouri Raise The Minimum Wage?

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – Kansas City’s government has already voted to do it. The debate continues in St. Louis, Columbia and in other communities. Should government force employers to increase the hourly rate for the lowest paid workers?MWSnap110

Now there’s an effort to put that question on the statewide ballot. Different proposals, if approved by voters, would increase the state’s minimum wage to $13.00 per hour and even up to $16.00 per hour over time, depending on which version of the idea would be on the ballot.

This week, Ruth Ehresman from Missouri Jobs With Justice makes their case for increasing the minimum wage, saying it will help many of the lowest paid workers out of poverty.MWSnap111

Dr. Howard Wall, a former St. Louis Federal Reserve economist, is now the director of the Missouri-based Hammond Institute for Free Enterprise. He explains why he is against the idea and thinks it will harm the workers it’s supposed to help.

On the web:

Missouri Jobs With Justice: www.MOJWJ.org

Hammond Institute For Free Enterprise: www.lindenwood.edu/hammondInstitute/

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/should-missouri-raise-the-minimum-wage/

Jul 19

Health Care & Foster Care: Efforts To Improve Lives in Missouri

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – We may like the laws or we may dislike them but, either way, thousands of Missourians rely on government programs for health care.

The laws, benefits and bureaucracies are often complex and leave people behind even if they qualify for coverage. For low income Missourians, there is assistance available when it comes to to appealing denials or just understanding what your rights are with the coverage you have.MWSnap108

Among the services Missouri’s legal aid offices provide is help navigating the complex health care process.

Lucas Caldwell from Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (representing Legal Services of Missouri – the network of regional legal aid offices) explains how these services work to help low income Missourians access government programs for which they qualify and also help with issues that may arise in dealing with private insurance. Each region of the state has a legal aid office.

Dealing with insurance coverage isn’t the only system that can be confusing and frightening for those in it.MWSnap109

Around 13,000 Missouri children are in the state’s foster care system. There’s a collaboration working right now to assess what that system is doing well and what need to be improved.

Missouri Kids Count is active throughout Missouri collecting data on a variety of areas that impact children in Missouri’s foster care system. Les Johnson explains what Missouri Kids Count is and why it matters to the entire state.


On the web:

Legal Services in Missouri: www.LSMO.org

Missouri Kids Count: www.MOKidsCount.org


Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/health-care-foster-care-efforts-to-improve-lives-in-missouri/

Jul 12

eLearning In Missouri: Why It Matters To Everyone

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – Public school students, private school students and home school students: whether urban, suburban or rural, they are no longer limited to the books and classes offered in the buildings where they learn. Missouri is among the leaders in the still-emerging field of online learning.

It’s now possible for a young person to complete their high school education through the University of Missouri. In fact, Mizzou offers eLearning for all K-12 students.MWSnap106

While convenience, access to courses that may not otherwise be available to your child and cost are all factors to weigh when considering eLearning, the discussion is about more than just what’s right for your student. It’s also about the future of our state and our nation. ATT Missouri President John Sondag* discusses the tech/wireless industry’s concerns about the readiness of the workforce in the near future. His company recently made a large donation to support Mizzou’s eLearning system.

Sondag explains why and tells us what he believes improving eLearning options will mean to the entire state.

Why are those options important now and in the years to come?

University of Missouri eLearning Director Zack March explains how all K-12 students can access the fully accredited MU courses and either transfer the credits back to their school or earn their high school diploma online.MWSnap107

Whether it’s a student in a rural area who wants to take a course his district can’t afford to offer or an urban student who has the ability to learn faster than her classmates and get ahead or whether it’s a homeschool family who needs to make sure their children’s learning will be accepted by colleges, today’s online education can meet a variety of needs.

On the web:

ATT Missouri*: www.ATT.com

University of Missouri K-12 eLearning: http://mizzouk12online.missouri.edu/

* ATT Missouri is a sponsor of “Missouri Viewpoints”

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/elearning-in-missouri-why-it-matters-to-everyone/

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/

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