Real people drive great stories. It’s a fact about excellent journalism – it requires real people telling their stories, not anonymous sources or speculation from the news reporter. And people like reading about people. Recently, a slew of real people were affected by budget cuts from the Missouri state government, just as millions of real people have been affected by this recession.
At the computer lab at The Greens at Columbia apartment complex off Clark Lane, school is in session.
Natalie Quade, a ninth-grader, converts cooking data into graphs using Microsoft Excel. Meanwhile, her brother, Ryan, a fifth-grader, silently jots down on a map the locations of landmarks such as the Taj Mahal and Mount Everest. It’s his geography homework through the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program, an online school for K-12 students.
Every Wednesday, the Quade family of Sturgeon studies at The Greens, where the children’s grandmother lives, before running other Columbia errands. Some 1,600 students statewide are like the Quade children: They study and learn through the online program, without a traditional school building or the direct supervision of a classroom teacher.
But come next semester, these students, teachers and parents likely will have to find a new way of schooling. The second semester of the program was eliminated last week as part of Gov. Jay Nixon’s $204 million in budget cuts, which included the elimination of about 200 full-time state jobs and 500 part-time positions.
“I can understand budget cuts,” said mother Carla Quade, a former accountant for the federal government, “but I can’t understand midsemester budget cuts.”