It’s hard for a child to learn when the child can’t see the blackboard. The Missouri Senate is moving to ease that problem by passing a bill saying children must get vision tests before starting school and must be examined again on completion of the first and third grades.
The bill also requires schools to publicize the need for the tests and to have lists of places where tests can be obtained at low cost or no cost.
Sponsor Delbert Scott says a child’s future can be limited by poor vision at the start. He says students who can’t see well enough to learn are sometimes put in the "slow" class and they often never recover from that early placement.
The state will put relatively little money into the program. Scott hopes for a lot of volunteer efforts, especially by civic organizations, optometrists and ophthalmologists.
Supporter Wes Shoemeyer of Clarence calls the bill critical to early education and later opportunity. "Kids only get one chance to get started right," he tells the Senate. He thinks the bill will help children "get started on the right path."
If the House also approves the bill and the Governor signs it, the program begins July 1, 2008.
(The bill is SCS/SB16)