The Kansas City Star Lies in “Parents’ Bill of Rights” Editorial
In an editorial titled “Missouri think tank’s ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights’ wants us to subsidize private schools,” the Kansas City Star Editorial Board takes aim at our Missouri Parents’ Bill of Rights (MPBR) transparency proposal, claiming that it is intended to sneak money to private schools and “designed to make angry people angrier.”
Both claims are lies.
I know they’re lies because I authored the proposal, and I know why I wrote it the way I did. At no point does the text of the MPBR reference—sneakily or otherwise—expanding Missouri’s educational choice options beyond its current boundaries. A simple call to our office or my personal cell, which staff at the Star have, would have further disabused the editorial writer of the notion. And if, as the editorial stipulates, people are angry about what is happening in their schools, this proposal intends to be a solution that reduces that anger by . . . solving those problems.
Problem solving! How quaint.
Indeed, finding solutions to public policy problems is central to the mission of the Show-Me Institute, and we pride ourselves on pursuing and advancing those solutions with facts and fair arguments. We believe our words speak for themselves and we invite feedback and criticism of those words, but our standing presumption is that our counterparts in the media and elsewhere have adopted a similar approach in their critiques—an approach that relies on facts and advances those facts through fair argument. The Star’s editorial board missed both of those marks here.
No one is hiding that the Show-Me Institute organizationally supports school choice. We do. But the MPBR is not a school choice proposal, nor is it a call to “subsidize private schools.” Affirming that parents have the right “to choose the existing educational option that works best for their children” is important because many parents and children who qualify for that choice under current law have been denied it in the past. It’s mind-boggling that the Star doesn’t know this.
The Star and I agree that “transparency shouldn’t be limited to public schools.” We’ve been working on mandating government transparency for cities, counties, school districts, local taxing districts, the state, and others for years—transparency ideas taken up not only by the Missouri Treasurer’s office three years ago but also by the legislature with HB 271 just months ago. That we’ve finally gotten to curriculum transparency is, if anything, late. The implication that schools are somehow being targeted in a vacuum for transparency is to have sleepwalked through the last half decade of Missouri policy and politics.
Like a parent might be, I’m not mad at the Star—I’m just disappointed. I assume that Star employees still know how to operate a phone or send electronic mail to ascertain and share facts. That they instead chose to share the false idea that the MPBR would subsidize private schools is disappointing.
After all, it wasn’t the Show-Me Institute trying to make angry people angrier.