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Being True to My School

As a member of the Missouri Senate, I’m expected to be in Jefferson City while the Legislature is in session. Occasionally, events conspire to make that impossible. I had one such occasion this week as I needed to be in Point Lookout, Missouri, to fulfil my duties as a member of the Board of Governors at the College of the Ozarks. I regret missing two days of my legislative duties, but I’m proud to serve my alma mater, otherwise known as “Hard Work U.” For those who aren’t familiar with the College of the Ozarks, it is a private Christian university, known nationwide for one unique distinction: students at the school work on-campus jobs rather than pay tuition.

This week, the Board of Governors elected a new president of the College of the Ozarks. I am proud to work with Dr. Brad Johnson as he assumes his new role and guides this wonderful institution into the future. My recent return to campus provided an opportunity to reflect on what the school meant to me and how it helped shape my values. So much of what I believe about faith, hard work and patriotism was formed while attending Hard Work U and I continue to fight for those exact same values here in Jefferson City.

Senator Eslinger welcomed Ozark County volunteer firefighter Khristie Jacquin and Missouri State Fire Marshall Tim Bean to her Capitol office.

Each year, the Annenberg Public Policy Center conducts a Constitution Day Civics Survey and the results are startling. A recent study showed 44% of adults could not name all three branches of government, and one-fifth could not name a single branch. Remarkably, 17% of those surveyed were incapable of identifying any of the freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Patriotism isn’t just about naming branches of government or being able to recall the names of presidents, but about the love of one’s own country and the values it was founded on. I truly believe we need to do a better job instilling patriotism in young Americans. That’s why I introduced Senate Bill 1175 , which requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a patriotic and civics training program for teachers. This bill has passed out of committee and awaits further action on the floor. I’ve fought to include funding for this effort in the budget, and am working to continue to move this legislation forward.

As a student attending the College of the Ozarks, I worked in the kitchen of the school’s restaurant, The Friendship House. Later, I was a student secretary in the college president’s office. These on-campus jobs provided just a few of many life lessons I’ve learned about the value of hard work. As a small business owner, former educator, and now as a legislator here in Jefferson City, I understand the importance of showing up for work, putting in the hours and giving every job your all. I bring these lessons with me as I consider legislation to expand employment opportunities in Missouri and develop a skilled and job-ready workforce.

My constituents in the 33rd Senatorial District are honest people that are just looking for an honest day’s work, no matter how hard or difficult it may be. That is a traditional Ozarks value, and one that was taught every day at Hard Work U. It’s no wonder that I’m so supportive of the governor and his efforts to help bring good jobs back to Missouri. This year, I introduced Senate Bill 1072 to help bring needed changes to the Missouri One Start Program to help bring better workforce training for new jobs. I’m hopeful this measure will receive a full vetting on the Senate floor soon so we can move it onto the House for its consideration.

As a Christian college, the College of the Ozarks was a good fit for me. Like other students, I attended chapel regularly, and my faith has continued to shape who I am. One way that faith manifests is a determination to protect life. I am happy to report that as we marked up the House budget in the Senate Appropriations Committee last week, we once again made sure to include language that would not provide any tax dollars to Planned Parenthood. I’ve always fought to protect life, and continuing to protect life will be a matter of utmost importance for me.

I learned so much more at Hard Work U than the topics identified in the course descriptions. The lessons I learned about faith, patriotism and, yes, hard work prepared me well to represent the residents of the 33rd Senatorial District. These values are the same values my neighbors in the district hold, and I will continue to fight hard to represent these ideals and be the senator you’ve elected me to be.

It is my honor to serve the residents of Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Ripley, Texas, Webster and Wright counties in the Missouri Senate, and it’s always a pleasure to hear from friends and family back home. If I can help you in any way, please call my Capitol Office at 573-751-1882, or my District Office at 417-596-9011.  You can also visit my webpage at www.senate.mo.gov/mem33, on Facebook: @SenatorKarlaEslinger, or follow me on Twitter: @seneslingermo.

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