Lack Of Support For School Choice Is Puzzling
Do you like riddles? Here is one for you: What is comprised of 197 members, is active for approximately five months, and is full of inertia? If you answered the Missouri General Assembly regarding education legislation, give yourself a gold star. The state’s legislative body just concluded the general session. In terms of education reform, they achieved very little.
The goal of the legislature should be to improve educational options for Missourians. They could accomplish this with meaningful school choice legislation.
As I noted in my recent essay, “Public Dollars, Private Schools: Examining the Options in Missouri,” greater school choice would be a net positive for Missourians. School choice puts the power back into the hands of the parents and it can save taxpayers money.
This year, however, the topic of school choice was rarely discussed in the House or Senate halls. Few school choice bills were even proposed, and the ones that were rarely received much attention.
A bill that would have fixed many of the problems in the current inter-district school transfer law never even received a hearing in the House Education Committee. The bill would have made it possible for many students to escape failing schools.
A bill that would have made it possible for students to enroll in a virtual course from another district or charter school never made it out of either the House or the Senate.
Even a bill targeted at helping autistic children failed to gain traction for most of the legislative session. It was finally folded into a conference committee substitute at the 11th hour. If the governor signs Bryce’s Law, it will establish a small, targeted scholarship program for students with special needs on the autistic spectrum.
It took eight years of continually pushing for Bryce’s Law to be passed — a small, targeted school choice program.
So here is another riddle: When will the legislature realize that all students could benefit from increased educational options? That riddle is truly puzzling.