Why Does Missouri Make it So Difficult?
In Missouri, it may seem like school choice is only for Kansas City and St. Louis, since they are the only two districts in the state with charter schools. However, there are areas in the rest of the state where thousands of students could benefit from more educational options. One such area is Springfield. The Springfield Public School (SPS) District and Missouri State University (MSU) are collaborating to open a school of choice for SPS students, an agricultural-focused magnet school. This new school has gained financial and district support, signifying that there is plenty of demand for educational options in the state.
Magnet schools are public schools that have a specialized focus, like STEM or the arts. They will often have admission and retention requirements, such as a minimum test score or GPA for students. Charter schools are another form of public school choice; they are granted autonomy and accept all students who apply. If a magnet school can get millions of dollars and support in Springfield, why does Missouri stifle the growth of charter schools, which could serve students outside of Kansas City and St. Louis?
I bet there have been many other ideas from would-be school leaders across the state on how to create new opportunities for students with an innovative school, but Missouri has been hostile to expanding school choice. Students in Springfield are fortunate enough to soon have access to another option. Unfortunately, many other Missouri students don’t have the chance to pick an education that’s right for them.