Michael Q. McShaneEmily Stahly

THE PROBLEM: Demand for charter schools in Missouri is at an all-time high. Unfortunately, for practical purposes charter schools are limited to the Kansas City and Saint Louis School Districts. Establishing a charter school is nearly impossible in any district that meets minimum state accreditation requirements. Tens of thousands of students are denied the opportunity for a better education.

THE SOLUTION: Expand charter schools statewide.

Charter schools should be allowed in districts regardless of whether the district meets minimum state accredi­tation standards. Per-student funding should be the same for both charter school and traditional public school students. Demand among families and charter school authorizers like uni­versities should determine where and when charter schools open in Mis­souri.


Over 6,900 charter schools operate in 43 states and the Dis­trict of Columbia, serving more than 3.1 million students. States like Indiana place no caps on the number of charter schools and fund charters and traditional public schools at equal or nearly equal levels. Unlike Missouri, almost all other states allow charter schools to operate anywhere.

THE OPPORTUNITY: Charter schools are growing. Over 23,000 students enrolled in charter schools in Missouri for the 2016–2017 school year—an 11% increase from the previous year. University Academy, one of the top-performing charter schools in the state, has a waitlist of 700 students. The demand is there. Simply by getting government out of the way, we can offer students a way out of underperforming schools and into schools they want to attend.


  • Thousands of Missouri students are trapped in poor schools due to needless restrictions on school choice.
  • Allowing charter school expansion will meet demand from families, not bureaucrats.
  • School choice has a proven track record elsewhere in the country.


Essay: Expanding Charter Schooling in Missouri

Blog Post: Charter Schools Boost College Completion

Blog Post: No, Charter Schools Don’t Push Out Kids Who Are Too Hard to Educate

Blog Post: The Charter School Discipline Problem That Isn’t


For a printable version of this article, click on the link below. You can also view the entire 2018 Missouri Blueprint online.

About the Author

Michael McShane
Senior Fellow of Education Policy

Mike McShane is Senior Fellow of Education Policy for the Show-Me Institute. He is a former high school teacher and earned his PhD in Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. Before coming to the Show-Me Institute, Mike worked at the American Enterprise Institute as a research fellow.

Emily Stahly

Emily Stahly is an analyst at the Show-Me Institute. She earned her B.A. in politics from Hillsdale College in Michigan and is researching education with the Show-Me Institute.