In a historic move for Missouri students, Gov. Mike Parson signed HB349 and SB86 into law on July 14, 2021.
The two bills will create Missouri’s Empowerment Scholarship Account Program, an innovative program that will provide $25 million in scholarships to families across Missouri that can be used to pay for private school tuition, homeschooling expenses, tutoring, therapy, and even tuition to public charter and district schools outside of a student’s assigned school district.
“For more than a decade students, parents, and teachers have been pleading for the right to choose the best education for their child,” said Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri’s (CEAM) executive director Laura Slay. “Today marks a historic victory for Missouri students desperate for better educational options.”
“On behalf of the thousands of parents who have worked to make this bill a reality, the CEAM team of staff and volunteers thank Gov. Parson for signing this historic legislation and putting students’ needs first,” Slay added. “While there are details of the program that will need to be worked out during the rulemaking process, today’s bill signing creates the framework for a system that will give families a wide variety of educational options for their children.”
Gov. Parson said expanding school options was critical to Missouri’s future.
“We need to figure out a way to change our system as a whole, our education system, to make sure we give a kid an education and we give them the opportunity to have a job. That’s what will change the needle in society as a whole,” he said. “Whether it’s private, whether it’s public, or if it’s Christian, you name it we’ve got to make sure we get our kids in this state an opportunity for education.”
Rep. Phil Christofanelli, who sponsored HB349 said the signing of the bill was one of the rare instances where he knew he was making a real difference.
“This is not a silver bullet but it will make a real difference in the lives of thousands of Missouri kids,” he said. “A lot of times in public service you show up every day and you really wonder if you’re making a difference. I think today everybody can walk away and know that we really are making a difference in the lives of many, many Missouri students and that will yield fruit for our state for many years to come.”
The new law will officially go into effect on August 28, 2021, but will have to go through a rulemaking process before scholarships are available. The first scholarships are expected to be available for the 2022-23 school year.
CEAM has created a new website to help parents understand the new law and sign up for notifications on how, when, and where to apply for the new scholarships.
Please visit https://www.showmeschooloptions.org/ for more information and sign up to get notifications.
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