Reimagining Education

Missouri Education Reform Omnibus Bill Signed Into Law

Governor Jay Nixon signed Senate Bill 291 last week, enacting significant education reforms that will impact many Missouri students and their families.

The bill marked one of the first and most significant state actions in support for merit pay in the U.S. by establishing the Teacher Choice Compensation Package for the St. Louis City School District. This will allow for teachers to choose performance-based salary stipends instead of tenure, with the possibility of up to $15,000 for entering the program.

Another highlight is the requirement of educational research to be conducted by the Joint Committee on Education by the end of the year. These studies will include the issue of open enrollment and a comprehensive examination of public charter-to-public district school student achievement.

In the area of special education, a bill of rights for the parents of children with individualized education programs (IEPs) was established. This requires the department to publish a guide in clear concise language that includes, but is not limited to, the parents’ rights to participate in meetings, to obtain copies of records, to have an advocate present and to receive a nonexclusive list of services to which a child may be entitled.

“This bill includes several important provisions to move education reform forward in Missouri,” said the State Direction of the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri, Earl Simms. “The winners today are the children of the state.”

Senators Rob Mayer, Jeff Smith, Jane Cunningham, Charlie Shields and Kevin Engler, along with House Majority Floor Leader Steve Tilley and Representatives Tim Jones and Mike Parson all played a vital role in the passage of this legislation.

Other Provisions of the Bill Includes Legislation That:

  • Requires DESE to post free electronic records of all meeting notices and results, providing greater transparency.
  • Supports school choice for foster children and by allowing all districts the opportunity to provide virtual learning with state funding.
  • Requires public schools to develop teaching standards by June 30, 2010.
  • Grants local school boards control of school week format, which allows for the possibility of four-day school weeks. This option is desired by many rural districts that seek more flexibility, lower transportation costs and the ability to implement innovative ideas.
  • Improves urban charter school accountability measures.
  • Establishes the Missouri Senior Cadet Program to enable twelfth graders in public school to mentor kindergarten through eighth grade students.
  • Establishes the P-20 Council as a private not-for-profit corporation to coordinate the preparation of students for entering the workforce.
  • Creates physical education standards for elementary schools, including physical activity for an average of 30 minutes per day.

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