Dear Friend,

It’s National Public Schools Week and I’m proud to once again serve as Congressional Co-Chair to honor the many teachers, administrators, staff members, bus drivers, board members, parents, and volunteers that continue to make our public schools a great place for our children to learn.

After all, more than 90 percent of Americans get their education in our public-school system. That includes me, my parents before me, and my children—some of whom have gone on to teach in our public schools. One of the things I’m most proud of is how our public schools in North Missouri have adapted over the years to meet new demands and challenges—from COVID-19 to better preparing our students to be workforce ready.

As this week is also National FFA Week, I want to start by talking a little bit about career and technical education—practical learning that teaches our students real world skills in the classroom. As you might already know, FFA started as “Future Farmers of America” all the way back in 1928 to provide high school students with better career and technical education, particularly agricultural education.

Over the past 93 years, their mission has grown and expanded to meet the needs of more and more students across the country. At the same time, demand has been growing for high-quality career and technical education more broadly within our school system—and our public schools have risen to the challenge and answered the call.

When I was in FFA, agricultural education programs were some of the only career and technical education programs offered to students, especially in small rural schools like the one I attended. Today, most students have a wide variety of career and technical education programs they can take advantage of from health sciences, mechanics, and computer technology to agribusiness and biotechnology, just to name a few.

In addition to adapting to a changing workforce and new educational demands for students, our public schools in North Missouri have shifted gears quickly to continue offering high quality education. Many schools and career and technical education centers all over North Missouri have instituted new guidelines and protocols to keep students in classrooms and keep students learning over this past year during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s been extremely important for career and technical education students, many of whom absolutely have to be in the classroom, shop, or lab to learn.

I am extremely proud of the work of all our teachers, ag instructors, staff members, bus drivers, board members, parents, and volunteers that have made this possible. Without their dedication, hard work, and outside-the-box thinking, our students would certainly be suffering. So this National Public Schools Week, National FFA Week, and Career and Technical Education Month, I want to thank everyone that keeps our public schools going strong.


Sam Grave