Education reform legislation is flying fast and furious in the House Education Committee. Last week, the committee heard bills that would create a “parent trigger”, allowing parents to sign a petition triggering a restructuring of a school, and a bill to repeal the Blaine Amendment, an amendment to the Missouri State Constitution prohibiting vouchers.
This week the committee continued hearings on school choice minded bills by hearing a bill that would expand charter public schools statewide in Missouri. The bill, sponsored by St. Louis City Representative Tishaura Jones, also expands the entities that can sponsor a school. In addition, the legislation also increases accountability on charter schools, and their sponsors, by allowing the State Board of Education to close a school for poor performance. The bill also creates a state authorizing board to oversee schools and their sponsors.
A scholarship tax credit bill for children with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) was also heard this week by the committee. The bill is almost identical to a bill filed during the 2008 legislative session and would allow for tax credits to businesses and individuals for donating to certain scholarship programs. These scholarship programs would be administered by the Department of Economic Development and the scholarships would be open to anyone with an IEP.
Many states have scholarship tax credit programs which are used by parents who feel their current local district school is not meeting the needs of their child. State Representative Dwight Scharnhorst is once again sponsoring the legislation.
The education reform train shows no signs of slowing down. Next week the committee will likely hear legislation to reform the tenure and pay structure of teachers in the state of Missouri and bills to curb the practice of social promotion.