The Missouri House Has Taken a Stand for Parents
It’s past time the Missouri Senate steps up to the plate and delivers for Missouri Parents. The House has done its part—two very important bills that support the rights of parents to choose how and where their children are educated have passed through House committees and a full House vote. They’re now in the hands of the Missouri Senate, which has been debating and arguing about education issues since early January, but not passing legislation for the governor to sign.
House Bill 1552 will finally fix the glitch in funding for public school students who choose a charter school rather than their assigned public school. Now known as the Charter School Funding Act, this bill would give charter school students access to the same funding streams as their non-charter school peers. In addition, it would send state aid to charter schools directly from the state, rather than routing the state money through the district in which a charter school is located. This funding change becomes critical when a district’s state aid amount is insufficient to cover the number of students in charter schools, as is currently the case in Kansas City. Charter schools can’t open or expand if the pot of money is limited. St. Louis is getting close to that point but isn’t quite there. The bill gives St. Louis Public Schools five years before the funding changes take effect.
House Bill 1814 would allow Missouri families to choose a school in a district other than the one in which they live. If a family owns property (such as a second home or a farm) in a separate school district from the one they reside in, the family can send up to four children to that district. More importantly, the bill also allows families to cross district lines for any reason, provided that the district they seek agrees to accept transfer students. Not only does this greatly expand options for Missouri students, but it also gives districts an incentive to work to attract students and their state aid dollars. Many states have similar policies and the data show that it is most often rural students that take advantage of such programs
Missouri families have had a rough couple of years. In person versus virtual, mask and vaccine requirements, curriculum content, to name just a few issues, have parents wanting more than just one assigned choice of school. It’s time for the Missouri Senate to follow in the House’s footsteps and put these options on the governor’s desk.