Gov. Mike Parson spoke to the Missouri State Teachers Association as members visited the Capitol and spoke to their senators and representatives about education topics.
Parson emphasized the importance of education and how a change in education can mean a change in the world.
He said he and his wife have seen the American dream fulfilled in their lives, and that "wouldn't happen without the fundamental education that we received years ago."
He pointed to his commitment to teacher pay, Career Ladder and daycare as signs of his prioritization of education.
Parson proposed a $32 million expansion of the Career Ladder program, which provides stipends to teachers for duties beyond their contract hours, including sponsoring clubs, professional development and tutoring. His call for a rise in teacher pay last year turned into a teacher baseline salary grant program that supplied funding to help bring starting salaries up to $38,000 -- the minimum pay in statute is $25,000 -- and he said he wants the program to continue.
His speech also called for $78 million to increase child care subsidies and the establishment of new child care tax credit programs.
"I want you to know, the vast majority of people support what you do every day for our kids across this state," he said.
And he had a closing remark for retired educators.
"It's your retirement, you can do what you want with it, and we're not going to mess with it," he said to applause. The governor's office later confirmed he was speaking generally, not addressing any particular legislation.
Sens. Karla Eslinger, R-Wasola, and Doug Beck, D-Affton, also spoke to MSTA members, along with House Speaker Pro Tem Mike Henderson.
"I absolutely love educators because I truly believe that every educator has the opportunity to be ... the foundation of our democracy," Eslinger said.
The MSTA also took the opportunity to award her the MSTA Friend of Education Award.
"If we could help you by letting you be able to teach and not micromanage everything you do, who knows where we could go as a state?" Beck told teachers.
MSTA members were informed about some of the bills being considered in both chambers, including bills about recruitment and retention, teacher pay and seclusion and restraint. MSTA President Stacy Blakley encouraged members to forge good relationships with legislators and to speak honestly.
"There is no one who knows our profession better than we do," she said.