The Senate’s Educated Citizenry 2020 Committee has officially finished its first year of work. The committee now looks to next session.

The committee, created in 2009, has the task of setting goals for the state of public education in Missouri for 10 years from now. Meantime, the funding to help make progress is only being cut.

Committee Member Senator Jane Cunningham of Chesterfield told the committee that it’s probably not worth its time to put too much effort into early childhood education, since the state can’t really afford it right now.

“(There’s been recent) news about some of the districts that are within the category, standard-wise, of being unaccredited or provisionally accredited. Since that is our statutory constitutional responsibility, I just think we need to move that up real quick in priority in comparison to early childhood and preschools, which is not part of our responsibility,” Cunningham said.

Senator Wes Shoemyer of Clarence disagrees.

“Even if it may not be constitutionally bound right now, it has certainly been a part of the system in the state. I think in the future, we’ll find that those states that are most aggressive at getting early childhood and those things moving forward will be those states that will have the best workforce prepared for the job,” Shoemyer said.

Asked about her comments after the meeting, Cunningham said she didn’t necessarily mean taking the idea off the table. But she says there are some stern realities.

“Since we don’t have any money to create a new program, it’s a matter of priorities,” Cunningham said.

Shoemyer says he’d prefer to leave it up to budget committees to decide what should and should not be included.

“I think we need to look at everything, all gamuts of the educational system and what, if we had a wish list, or if something that looks like it would move Missouri from the place where we are, up notch and up a notch. That’s something that should be a part of our duty to continue to look at,” Shoemyer said.

Meantime, Committee Chairman Senator David Pearce of Warrensburg says he’s already working on lining up a presentation on a factor that he thinks will be important across the K-12 spectrum.

“Technology and online services and how that is going to impact education. Obviously we’re looking at 2020, where we want to be, and we need to be cognoscente of the trends that are out there,” Pierce said.

Other committee members expressed interest in finding out more about the common core standards the state signed on to this summer and the future of the MAP tests, which may be replaced by a national standardized test in the coming years.

The committee met during the veto session this week. It will meet again in November, before they start work on the next legislative session.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [1 min MP3]