Democrats Doug Mann and James Musgraves, candidates vying to represent Missouri’s 50th House of Representatives District, are offering voters two different approaches to education policy.
This race is expected to be more competitive than in years past. Because of redistricting, the 50th declined to include Columbia’s southern city limits and adjacent parts of Boone County.
Mann is a civil rights attorney for the Columbia law firm TGH Litigation LLC, and began her career teaching school history and civics. Musgrave spent his entire career in the Navy, rising to the rank of captain before retiring in 2019.
Each candidate has four pillars in his or her platform, but there is only one plan in common — and each differs significantly from the other in its approach.
Mann said his education was No. 1 case, and his experience as a public school teacher in an underfunded Chicago school inspired him to run for office. Saying the teacher showed him that the questions of the teacher and the students were being discussed, specifically instructing him to address them.
Mann said the biggest issue Missouri’s public schools face is a lack of funding, because of teacher shortages and some schools needing a four-day school week to save money.
If elected, he said he would seek to expand the public school funding formula to increase the amount of funding. Local funding is determined by property taxes, over which the legislature has no control, and federal funding is a relatively small part of the formula.
Mann said he hopes increasing funding will encourage schools to return to five-day weeks, because students in four-day districts are losing valuable instructional time. He said increasing teacher pay would help ease the stress of teaching.
“There are also job stressors that drive employers, because if you want to pay badly for a great position, you’re going to try the exit as soon as possible,” he said.
Musgrave said that if he were elected, he would ask teachers what he could do to make it easier for the legislator to do his job.
“Steve Jobs once said, ‘Don’t hire smart people to tell them what to do.’ They hire smart people so they can do something for you,’” Musgrave said. “Well, we’ve already hired smart people. We hired teachers. Now we need to ask them, “What do we need?”
Gary Ritter, dean of St. Louis University’s School of Education, said schools strive to recruit and retain the best teachers. Part of the argument, he said, is that the entire economy is about labor shortages.
He also said that there are some specific frictions in schools. For the most part, Ritter said, teachers are paid according to a fixed salary schedule based on years of experience and level of achievement, while other occupations have a wide range of salaries to adjust. This means that a prospective teacher will likely not be able to bargain for a better salary and move to an industry where they could.
He also said that Republican attacks on the school curriculum, such as textbook bans, can cause people to become teachers because the attacks cause stress that people in other fields do not have to deal with. He said the fear of school shootings also discourages students from following their studies.
Musgrave said schools need to “go back to basics” and teach core subjects like math, science and English instead of “exciting agendas.”
“It’s when you … go out there swimming out of your lane, and start getting into these other personal issues, political things that go around the school for whatever reason … it doesn’t matter who’s doing it or what part of the hallway you come from. It’s not,” he said. .
Musgraves said parents have a right to know if their children are being taught something that conflicts with their morals and personal beliefs. He said parents should ask about their children’s background and teachers should have no problem explaining why they are being taught.
Mann was pressured by parents and pressured by teachers and driven away from the profession. Republicans added that parents’ fear of trying to capitalize on the state’s profit.
“I saw it twice a year and I thought it was absolutely brilliant. It was, ‘If your 10-year-old is learning CRT (critical genre theory), you should be really proud that your 10-year-old is in law school,’” says Mann. “Critical genre theory is not taught in schools. Kids are not taught.
Musgrave said his top-line issue is the economy, which he said is also the top issue the overwhelming majority of voters have spoken about. Because of inflation, he said, people are more “just to be.” He recommends three measures in this area: to repeal the Missouri gas tax, the grocery tax and the personal property tax.
Musgrave said he would also improve Missouri’s infrastructure, especially its stretch of Interstate 70, which he said is among the “least-restored” in the country. He said if the federal government in Missouri started putting money back into Missouri’s roads, it would strengthen the state’s largest artery.
Musgrave, Missouri’s police force said it is experiencing a shortage of police officers. He said the “defund the police” rhetoric from Democrats is turning people away from becoming police officers. If elected, Musgrave said he would work more closely with police departments to serve their needs.
Mann said his legislative priorities include improving access to mental health care, protecting workers’ rights and fighting for reproductive rights.
Mann said his support for education benefits the economy because education is the ladder that lifts people out of poverty and provides job skills.
Mann said the Missouri Department of Mental Health is facing a staffing crisis that he said is making it harder for Missourians to access mental health care. He said the state should send more funding to the department to help solve the problems.
The state’s Human Rights Commission also needs more funding, Mann said. Workers who want to file an employment discrimination case must go through the commission, Mann said, but there is a backlog. More money would help move cases through the system faster and help crisis workers, he said.
Mann said he is a “firm pro-choice candidate.” While abortion has become illegal in Missouri, he said lawmakers still need to protect access to contraception and in vitro fertilization.
It runs for reasons
Mann said he grew up with a single mother who was very politically involved and got him involved in politics, sparking his interest in politics. Originally from upstate New York, Mann taught high school in Chicago after graduating from Niagara University. He came to Columbia with his wife Adrienne five years ago to attend MU Law School. Mannus said he and his wife fell in love with Columbia and part of their reason for running is to give back to the community.
Mann said he is running for a seat in the Missouri state House because he wants to use his place as a white man who is economically stable to help improve the state.
“Well, I live a wonderful life, and I don’t want to go back to (Illinois) with the skills that I have and the privilege and the voice that I have to raise voices here and help. Missouri is doing the best it can,” Mann said.
Musgrave grew up in St. Louis County and joined his class in high school. The Navy awarded him an ROTC scholarship, which he used to study political science at MU. After college, he was selected for flight training and spent much of his life flying or teaching others to fly helicopters, as well as building and leading performance teams. At last he became emperor.
Musgraves also took on the role of executive director of the British Naval Support Facility in the overseas territory of Diego Garcia, an Indian atoll in the Indian Ocean. He spent about a year there and managed a budget of 2,500 people.
2019. Musgrave said his displeasure with the way President Joe Biden acted in office inspired him to run for state representative.
“I can sit and talk and do nothing,” Musgrave said, “but it felt like the time for passive observation and the time for active combat were over.”
50th turns purple
Rep. The seat is held by Sarah Walsh, R-Ashland, who has held the state stronghold for ten years. She went down. Above the village was also a rural swath of Boone, Cole, Cooper and Moniteau counties.
Greg Vonnahme, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who has studied polling, said “there is a competitive way of thinking” about the 50th district this cycle due to redistricting.