McCaskill on the move in Missouri

Before coming to campus, McCaskill met with Boonville educators to discuss education reform.
Boonville School District Superintendent Mark Ficken listens as Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., talks about reforming education.  The senator completed a tour across the state this week in which she visited 15 cities to speak with administrators, teachers and students on their opinions of the federal government's role in education.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., met with MU Law Democrats on Wednesday to discuss her coming campaign and the problems that face the United States. The senator said she believes the country has come to a challenging and extraordinary time in its history.

“The political scientist in me is fascinated by what is going on, the politician in me is challenged by what is going on and the American in me is horrified by what is going on,” McCaskill said.

McCaskill believes in order to minimize the national deficit and keep the recovering economy headed in the right direction, compromises must be made to make the future better for everyone.

“I think people ought not to be afraid to say that they’re willing to compromise,” she said. “I believe very strongly that we are doing our country a disservice if we try to pretend that we do not have to make changes in the social security program and the Medicare program within the next 10 years.”

She spoke of cuts to military spending, a sector of government budget which has exploded in the past several years. She said the root of the problem is “no-bid, cost-plus" contracting.

“We are really trying to tighten down on contracting,” McCaskill said. “We are committed to cutting waste and abuse.”

Before coming to campus, McCaskill continued her education tour in Boonville. The senator met with administrators, teachers, parents and students of primary and secondary education in several Missouri cities each day this week.

“I think these educators are telling me very loudly and very clearly that Washington needs to back off on all the mandates, all the rules and regulations that make it even harder for them to do their jobs with the limited amount of resources they have available,” McCaskill said.

McCaskill said Missouri doesn’t prioritize education like a lot of other states do, which can make budgeting a nightmare for administrators.

“No Child Left Behind is expiring, so it is time for the federal government to look again at what we are doing in the area of public education,” McCaskill said. “I want to make sure the reform that we do in Washington is not all about Washington figuring out more rules they want to put on local districts as a price they have to pay for federal dollars.”

Boonville superintendent Mark Ficken said he’s pleased McCaskill has taken the time to speak with her constituents, but reminded those listening that most of the district’s education problems derive from Jefferson City, not Washington, D.C.

“I think it’s healthy," Ficken said. "I think it’s important that we communicate and that she’s here to listen. She’s getting out here in the trenches to figure out what’s going on and what’s affecting education at the federal level.”

In the end, both Ficken and McCaskill agree No Child Left Behind has to be reformed.

“No Child Left Behind has got to be completely tweaked,” Ficken said. “It is sending mixed messages, it’s punishing kids, punishing districts and just needs to be realistic and get rid of the unfunded mandates.”

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