Reimagining Education

Capitol Report – Parents are taking action

The 2024 legislative session is underway and CEAM parent advocates are making their presence known as they connect with elected leaders to advocate for greater access to more educational options.

Missouri’s school choice environment now includes:

  • Charter Public Schools – tuition-free public schools in St. Louis City and Kansas City.
  • Virtual Schools – the Missouri Course Access and Virtual Education program is available to all Missouri public school students at no cost to the family.
  • MOScholars – K-12 education scholarships for students that qualify.
  • Magnet Schools – part of some traditional public school districts.

This year, several school-choice-related bills aim to improve existing policies and create new opportunities for students.

Charter School Expansion is presented in at least three bills under consideration. Each of the three bills focuses on a different geographic area. One would expand charter schools to St. Louis County, a second bill expands them to St. Charles County, and a third proposes expansion to Boone County. Advocates from all three counties have been to the capitol to advocate for expansion to their county.

MOScholars Expansion is the focus of several other bills. The bills propose different types of growth in the tax-credit-funded scholarship program. The type of expansion varies by bill, but the basic ideas are:

  • Geographic expansion to more parts of the state.
  • Increase the cap on the tax credits that fund the program. Currently at $50 million, one bill proposes a $75 million cap.
  • Increase eligibility by raising the family maximum income beyond the current maximum of 200% of the federal Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) program income guidelines. One bill proposes 400% of the FRL income guideline.
  • Increase the amount of each scholarship up to 175% of the state adequacy target.

Open Enrollment would impact traditional public school students. Bills related to open enrollment propose allowing students to transfer to a district other than the one in which they live. There are many reasons why a family would take advantage of open enrollment that mirror other forms of school choice. These reasons include different class offerings, different school culture, convenience, and safety. 

What’s Next?

Bills often merge together or get amended to include a variety of ideas presented in other bills. That will likely be what happens this year. Rather than lobby for specific bills, advocates generally speak with elected leaders about their family situation, their student’s experience, and the types of solutions they seek.

CEAM organizes Advocacy Days at the Capitol on a regular basis. Email Cici Tompkins at cici@ceamteam.org to find out more.

If you are interested in following education bills, we encourage you to sign up for CEAM’s Phone2Action. When you text “CEAM” to 52886, you will begin to receive occasional action texts during the legislative session that will inform you about a specific bill and how you can contact your legislator to support that bill. 

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