Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wallace: School start bill did not go far enough

Apparently, if Rep. Maynard Wallace, R-Thornfield, had his way, the school start bill signed into law Monday by Acting Governor Peter Kinder would have gone much further and reduced school officials' options for designating earlier start times.
In an interview with the KY3 Political Blog, Wallace said:

Rep. Maynard Wallace said that much of the education community viewed anything as "interference with local control" in previous years. But Wallace stressed that local control is still essentially protected in this compromise.

A school board can still set an early August school start date if that board holds a public meeting to discuss that start date, and a majority of the board votes to approve it.

Kinder called the legislation "a compromise in a long-running struggle," that will bring a real economic benefit to Branson.

Rep. Wallace said the bill didn't go quite as far as he wanted it to, but Rep. Dennis Wood called it a good compromise

The post continues:

Some educators argued that early school start dates were necessary in order to have ample time to prepare for MAP testing. Lawmakers rejected that argument, and Rep. Wallace promised that MAP scores will not drop as a result of this legislation.

The first inclination is to say, "What in the world does a politician like Maynard Wallace know about the effect later school starts will have on MAP scores?" But it's not as simple as that. Wallace is a politician now, but he has a considerable background as a school administrator, according to his member biography on the Missouri House of Representatives website:

Rep. Wallace is active in community and education organizations, and has worked extensively with Little League baseball and softball programs. He is the past president of the Forsyth Chamber of Commerce, past president of SWMO Administrators Association, past president of the Bradleyville Alumni Association, a lifetime member of the Missouri State Teachers Association, and a lifetime member of Missouri Association of School Administrators.

A 1961 Bradleyville, Mo. High School graduate, Rep. Wallace received his associate’s degree in science from College of the Ozarks in 1963, a bachelor of science in education from Southwest Missouri State University in 1966, and a master’s in education in 1972 and education specialist in 1975, both from Central Missouri State University.

Wallace has also been the recipient of campaign contributions from a number of school administrators and organizations, including Webb City R-7 Superintendent Ron Lankford, Monett Superintendent Charles Cudney, the Missouri State Teachers Association, the Missouri School Administrators PAC, and the Missouri Council of School Administrators, with this type of contribution totaling $1,650 during 2006.

But one thing that should be taken into consideration is a pull nearly twice as strong that may be coming from the other side. Three thousand dollars in campaign contributions to Wallace came on December 29, 2005, $1,500 apiece from the 32nd District Senatorial Campaign Committee and the 129th House Republican Legislative District Committee.

On that same day, the 129th District Committee had received $12,187.25 from the campaign committee of the late Larry Gene Taylor, and had passed along $3,000 of that money to the 32nd District Senatorial Committee.

A large portion of the money that came into the Taylor Committee came from Branson tourism interests and the lobbyists representing them, at least $12,545, according to my count during 2004, the last year in which the committee was actively raising funds. Most of those contributions came during the eight days before the primary disclosure report filed July 23, 2004.

Only Wallace knows if the money from either side of the issue had any effect whatsoever on his support for Sen. Jack Goodman's bill, but it's an issue that is worthy of examination.

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