Ed Emery's Capitol report for Feb. 19, 2004
February 22, 2004
Rep. Ed Emery

District 126


To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.

–Marilyn vos Savant

This week advocates of education visited our offices in Jefferson City. Monday included visits from school officials and teachers in my district. Tuesday, several of us fromSouthwest Missouri joined a forum with students from MSSU in Joplin. Wednesday included a visit from adults and young people to discuss the future of higher education. Each group brought both questions and suggestions about funding issues. I appreciate the diligent efforts of education officials to identify solutions without imposing new taxes on the families they serve.

I met with a representative from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) during the week to discuss some of the educators’ suggestions. We are searching for ideas that will provide both short-term relief and long-term solutions. From State Government to school board members and parents, many are employing creativity and flexibility as they help steer the ship of public education. I welcome your thoughts and ideas as we work through this challenging time together.

The students from MSSU were interested in more than funding. They also asked about House Bill 911, Intelligent Design, introduced by Dr. Wayne Cooper. The bill’s purpose is to put some integrity back into the science curricula in Missouri. The students asked about how it would be enforced and applied in the classroom. I explained to them that I co-sponsored the bill and then tried to answer their questions.

HB 911 is kind of a “truth in labeling” bill for teaching science. Its purpose is to ensure that students know what is theory and what is fact. Too much of education is focused on telling students what to think instead of teaching them how to think. I would like to see scientists more influenced by integrity than dogma. That will not happen while a small group of elitists decide for everyone that certain theories (such as intelligent design) must not be either evaluated or considered. That is like a farmer claiming he has fully optimized his acreage while refusing to consider any no-till applications. He would be exercising dogma over integrity.

Back to education funding…you might like to know that this week we focused on the long-term. We worked on the economy. Problems in our Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund were addressed. The fund became insolvent last year due to the slow economy and now the state is borrowing money from the federal government at a rate of 6 percent. Employers are the ones picking up the tab and this means less money available to hire more workers. In order to fix the problem we are tightening the qualifications for benefits. No longer will benefits go to employees who never qualified for them, walked off the job, were fired, or were released for other reasons like drug use. This is not just a fiscal issue, but also a character issue. We need solutions to both.

Pray for God’s wisdom and blessing as the legislature moves forward in its work to rebuild Missouri’s economy and provide our children with a quality education. Telephone me toll-free at (866) 410-8822 with your comments and advise. You may also email me at ed.emery@house.mo.gov . If you would like to receive the weekly Capitol Report by email, please send me you email address. Thank you for your interest in good government.

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