Of the hundreds of education bills Missouri lawmakers have filed this session, charter school expansion has the best chance of passing.
Not only is Republican Gov. Eric Greitens an enthusiastic backer of school choice, but charter school advocates say the desire for alternatives to traditional public schools is broadening.
Even the Missouri School Boards’ Association says it won’t try to entirely block charter schools expanding beyond St. Louis and Kansas City, but instead would like to see some limits, including that charters schools are controlled by established districts so there’s accountability for taxpayers. Plus, they want traditional schools to still get the money they need.
The groups that represent the two main sides of education advocacy — school choice and traditional public schools — presented their agendas to lawmakers in the state Capitol in recent days. School Choice Week was in late January, while members of the Missouri School Boards’ Association bent the ears of lawmakers Tuesday.
Charter school group president Doug Thaman says his main focus for the next few months is bringing charter schools to more parts of Missouri.
The Missouri School Boards’ Association, the biggest voice for traditional school districts, says it supports the innovative curriculums that charter schools can provide, and is not opposed to them opening, but control of charters should lie with elected school boards, who can keep better tabs on taxpayer’s money.
Read more: St. Louis Public Radio