Let’s Fix The Transfer Problem ‘One Piece At A Time’
First and likely only Johnny Cash reference of the night. #moleg
— Jason Hancock (@J_Hancock) April 9, 2014
“One Piece at a Time” is one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs. In the song, a young man goes to “workin’ on a ‘sembly line” in a Detroit auto plant. He devises a plan to build a car by sneaking parts out one piece at a time. In the end, he has created a “’49, ’50, ’51, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’55, ’56, ’57, ’58, ’59 automobile.” I was reminded of this song as I drafted my testimony for Missouri Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Bills 493, 485, 495, 516, 534, 545, 595, 616, 624. It wasn’t just the name of the bill that reminded me of the song, but the way that so many different parts that seemingly do not go together were crammed into one bill.
Though the bill touches on many different topics, I tried to limit my testimony to the crux of the bill — the student transfer issue. As I said in my testimony:
Ever since the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a student’s right to transfer from an unaccredited school district to a nearby accredited one, Missouri school leaders have coordinated efforts to put an end to the transfer law. Some concerns regarding the transfer program hold merit. For instance, the current law has the potential to lead to the bankruptcy of unaccredited districts or to lead to overcrowding in accredited ones. Unfortunately, these problems have led many to ask, “How can we end student transfers?” rather than, “How can we make the transfer law work for students?”
Missouri Sen. David Pearce (R-Dist. 21) reiterated this point, stating that this bill is intended to reduce the number of students transferring.
Allowing students to choose their school is a good thing and we can make this program work for students if we institute four changes.
- Give accredited school districts the right to determine how many students they will accept.
- Fix the tuition calculation so that unaccredited districts will not be forced to pay rates that are higher than they spend themselves.
- Expand choice to private schools in the same or adjoining counties.
- Establish a fund to provide transportation for transfer students. Appropriations from general revenue and donations from the public could fund this.
You can read more details about my suggestions in my full testimony.