“Creating the World We Want…”
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Governor Mike Parson and really get his take on Missouri’s new Office of Childhood, its impact on children in our state, and his personal experiences with kids.
I hope you’ll take a moment out of your day to watch, listen, or read some excerpts from our interview – I asked some important questions, like “How is early childhood related to workforce and infrastructure?” and, “What is your dream for Missouri children?”
I also wanted to share this brief 4 minute informational video that brings several important perspectives together. I hope it energizes you and helps you have confidence in the big steps being taken in Jefferson City to invest in Missouri’s kids and align the efforts of our state’s departments and agencies.
Together, we are creating the world we want for our kids.
EXPAND EACH BOX BELOW TO READ KEY EXCERPTS FROM OUR TRANSCRIPT OF EMILY’S INTERVIEW WITH GOVERNOR PARSON:
Emily: Why did you decide to create an Office of Childhood?
Governor: First, we have to really admit that we were not very good at what we were doing. We had multiple departments, multiple divisions, multiple agencies, that couldn’t even communicate with one another. This is going to give us an opportunity to rebuild early childhood development in the state of Missouri—it’s a fresh start. If there is ever a time to do it, now is the time.
Emily: Can you tell us a little bit about why you have incorporated early childhood as part of your priorities in workforce and infrastructure, and how is early childhood related to workforce and infrastructure?
Governor: Everybody says people getting out of school are not prepared for the workforce. So, what are the tools they need to be successful? They’ve got to have basic skills. They’ve got to be able to read, to know math, to know science, they’ve got to be able to know all of those things that you learn as a child. For years, we didn’t invest on that end of it and what did we do? We paid the price on the back end of it, which is much more expensive.
Emily: What do you hope this new office will accomplish for Missouri children?
Governor: I think it gives a kid a chance. If you really go to make a difference, it’s got to be with giving a child the opportunity to do things. And they become better citizens. I don’t know if they’re going to get four year degrees; I don’t know if they’re going to go into the military; I don’t know if they’re going to own their own business someday, but I sure want them to have a chance. The only way they’ll get a chance if someone pays a little attention to them on the front end to give them the opportunities and skills they need that will teach them what they’re going to need for life skills later on.
Emily: So, you were a county sheriff for a good part of your career, and a member of the Senate. When did early childhood become an issue that you cared about?
Governor: When I think being back in the sheriff days, you see the worst part of society sometimes. You really do. You see difficult situations that adults are in, that they put their selves in. But you can almost trace it back to their roots. You have children in that environment too. If you’re not going to give them an opportunity, a way out of that, we’re kidding ourselves if we think it’s going to get better. That’s where early childhood development comes in.
Emily: When you were raising children, what were the most important things you and the First Lady tried to teach your children?
Governor: Oh, I am a red white and blue guy. Ever since I went in the army, my mom used to fly a flag on the front porch. I thought it was important for my kids and grandkids and I flew a flag at my own home. I think it’s important for my grandkids to understand the importance of who we are and why we’re here today and what people did before us to sacrifice for them. I also think being an example. It’s not easy being a parent sometimes; you have to make decisions that are really the best for the child. Might not always make them happy, maybe not always make you happy but that’s our responsibility.
Emily: Do you have any parenting moments that have stayed with you until now? Moments of connection or learning experiences?
Governor: They’ve taught me a lot of things. One of the great things about kids is that they are just as honest as they can be. And sometimes for all of us, it’s a little tough to be that way. My children, I always thought they made me better. They made me work a little harder to be a better person and I think, for the most part, to be an example. I joke around all the time when I’m talking to groups or people out there if there’s kids around, I always tell the kids, hey I am going to tell you a secret about the Governor. You know, I like kids a lot better than I do adults. And there may be some truth to that.
Emily: I have to say, I always love the pictures of you with kids, those are my favorite pictures of you because you can just see your joy and their joy and that’s really what it’s all about.
Governor: You know what, nothing makes me any happier than being around some kids. Truly I’ve lived the American dream. Coming from where I came from, serving this country, being in law enforcement, all of the things I’ve done in my life, and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it and I think I want to make sure in this role that I can pass the American dream down to other kids. To give them a shot at it, what they do with it, I don’t know but they’ve got to have the opportunity.
Emily: Alright, we have got one last question for you. What is your dream, hope or aspiration for Missouri children?
Governor: That they all have a shot at the American dream. I want them all to be educated, I want them to have a job, and I want them to enjoy life. I want them to be happy every day when they live their lives.