Friday, October 21, 2005

County Commissioners and Nov. 8 Election

I attended a teacher meeting this week in which two of the three County Commissioners and the Springfield police chief spoke about an upcoming November 8 ballot issue called the Community Safety Initiative (CSI). County Commissioners Dave Coonrod and Harold Bengsch and SPD chief Lynn Rowe took turns talking about why they support the proposed 1/4 cent sales tax.

The proposed tax would ante up about a nickel on a $20 purchase and would raise about $10 million in year one for various crime prevention and law enforcement programs.

Did I hear a yawn? I know. This is usually the kind of thing that I have trouble supporting - yes, they want to build a new crime lab and provide funding for more police officers, blah, blah. But the part that caught my attention, and the primary reason they were pitching this to a group of school teachers, was the $3 million that was to be spent on a proactive early childhood program that was linked to 50 elementary schools in Springfield. It would also create a one-stop center for early childhood services such as WIC, Parents As Teachers and medical and behavioral health care.

Unlike the unfunded federal feel-good mandate known as No Child Left Behind, this program supports and funds an early childhood program that is aimed at breaking the cycle of illiteracy and under-education that breeds all kinds of social problems in the community. Yes, it's on a small scale, but it's a move in the right direction - and I don't think we'll be getting much help from the state or federal government anytime soon - not with the current leadership we have in Jeff City and D.C.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Coonrod and Bengsch speak to this issue with no small amount of conviction. Hit the link above to read more about it.

***Also, thanks to those readers who inquired about the most recent dispatch from the fields of education. It was deleted because I was worried that the teacher featured in that story would suffer some kind of retribution from a vengeful administrator or demented parent. Given the fact that she still works with those people on a daily basis, I felt it was wise to avoid any risk of making things worse. I did save the story and will re-post it after things cool down a bit.

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