Public education dealt major blow by Greitens


“Call the Tune” by Mike Anthony
Executive Editor

Mike Anthony

We used to think that Jay Nixon was the worst governor to serve Missouri.
Quite frankly, we didn’t think Nixon could do any worse as governor than he did as attorney general, but his abysmal performance in the state’s top office surprised even us.
But compared to current Gov. Eric Greitens, Nixon now comes across as a dynamic, statesman-like leader.
Just consider Greitens’ successful effort to oust Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven by stacking the State Board of Education with five puppets to do his bidding.
We believe that Greitens’ actions are nothing short of despicable, not to mention unethical.
After Vandeven was fired by the state board Friday, Greitens issued a statement that began: “Today, kids, teachers, and families won. The State Board of Education voted for new leadership for our school system. That’s a major step in the right direction as we work to improve public education in Missouri.”
First off, we don’t believe for a second that Greitens has any intention of improving public education.
But if he does, his puppets’ firing of Vandeven is a major step backward, given the fact that people we trust and respect have condemned Greitens’ questionable actions. Two of those are State Board of Education Vice President Vic Lenz, a former Lindbergh Board of Education member and administrator, and Mehlville Superintendent Chris Gaines.
Lenz joined state board President Charlie Shields and state board member Mike Jones in voting against Vandeven’s ouster. Lenz told the Call’s Gloria Lloyd the state board has never heard from Greitens.
On Nov. 22, Gaines tweeted, “Governor seems to have no clue on the role of state Board. Comments and actions far apart. Perhaps he should get into schools and see how school leaders and teachers are changing the learning experience for students.”
After Greitens’ appointee Claudia Oñate Greim resigned from the state board late Nov. 30, Gaines tweeted Dec. 1, “And who will become the next puppet? Integrity and independence of the Board out the window.”
The “next puppet” is Eric Teeman of Raytown, who was sworn in just minutes before Friday’s meeting.
Like we said, we don’t believe Greitens has any interest in bettering public education. Because if he did, he would listen to people like Vic Lenz and Chris Gaines who have spent their entire careers improving public education for Missouri’s children.