The advocacy group Missourians for Educational Change and a coalition of Missouri House Democrats gathered Tuesday at the state capitol calling for action from Gov. Mike Parson and a stronger response to COVID-19.
The conference included several state representatives and organization members advocating for precautionary changes to the state’s coronavirus response at local and educational levels. The conference was led by House Minority Floor Leader Crystal Quade, who spoke mostly about concerns regarding the reopening of schools and the lack of direction in the state. Quade said she agreed with the statement that Missouri lacks leadership.
“Across this country, we have seen governors take an array of stances, make decisions, sometimes change their minds,” Quade said. “What we have not seen in Missouri are any decisions. And to me that is failure of leadership.”
Angela Kender, creator of the Missouri COVID-19 Memorial, spoke about the lack of empathy she sees from state leaders during this time. Since losing her mother in June from COVID-19, she has gathered images from families across the state who have lost loved ones, with some of those photos displayed on a banner during the conference.
Kender said it is the responsibility of state representatives to follow through with the changes they are positioned to make.
“I am here today to shine light on these faces that are gone. Because if you look at these faces and you don’t realize that it could easily be you or your loved one, you are sadly mistaken,” Kender said. “And if you don’t recognize your obligation as an elected official to make choices to protect our communities, you don’t deserve to hold your office.”
Julian Vizitei a founding member of Missourians for Educational Change, said in addition to losing lives, he’s concerned about what he perceives as a lack of action from state officials that could bring deeper, permanent consequences.
“How many teachers are wanting to go back to work when they know that their school will sacrifice them; they know their government will sacrifice them,” Vizitei said. “We’re looking at long-term damage to education in Missouri.”