Reimagining Education

Why the fight for school choice matters

This week schools, families and students are celebrating their right to choose the education that best fits their needs and learning style at over 600 different events across Missouri.

CEAM is hosting our own celebration on Thursday and congratulates the thousands of students who have had the chance to benefit from school choice.

Unfortunately, there are many more children in the state who have zero ability to choose the school that is right for them.

Efforts to expand options like charter schools, ESAs, and virtual education has proven to be a constant battle between education reformers focused on transforming Missouri’s education potential and entrenched, powerful district school administrators and unions who are focused on preserving their funding streams.

 

Setting the facts straight

Despite what you might have heard from a variety of well-funded propaganda campaigns, the school choice movement is NOT:

  • An effort to destroy public education,
  • An attempt to make money off of children’s education,
  • A move to segregate schools, or
  • An attempt to destroy public or local control over education.

The school choice movement IS:

  • Focused on creating hyper-local control by giving families power over their children’s education,
  • Designed to expand education opportunity to socio-economically disadvantaged students,
  • Centered on giving families, not district leaders, control over how funding for their children’s education is spent, and
  • Supportive of all forms of high-quality education including public charter, public district, private, and homeschooling options.

 

Missouri has an education problem

When you look at state-wide data it is clear that centuries-old one-size-fits-all approach is not working for many of our children.

Here is a snapshot of the reality of education in Missouri:

  • In 2016, approximately 1 in 10 students in the state attended a low-performing school
  • Less than half of Missouri’s school children are proficient in Math.
  • Only two-thirds are proficient in English.
  • Improvement in Missouri students’ achievement on the NAEP tests is among the lowest in the country.

 

Money is not always the answer

Over the past 40 years, we have more than doubled the amount of money we spend on each child’s education. With double the money, we would hope for vast improvements. Instead, student performance on standardized tests has flat-lined.

Who has control of the money can be the answer

Throughout the country, more and more states are giving families more control over where and how education dollars are being spent, from expanding access to charter schools to creating scholarship and ESA programs which give disadvantaged families access to private school options, to expanding funding for virtual education options to giving parents the ability to choose to cross district lines to find the best education for their children.

And while the variety of programs offered varies by state, the results are frequently the same — improved performance in BOTH traditional and school choice environments.

Additional research shows that school choice:

School choice changes lives

Many families in St. Louis City and Kansas City already know what a tremendous difference having access to charter schools has made in their lives, and families across the country know that greater school choice means a better future. Just listen to some of their stories:

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