Reimagining Education

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Parents, school leaders testify on ESAs

This week advocates of school choice visited Jefferson City to share their support for an education savings account plan in Missouri.

Parents, private school leaders, and foster care advocates told legislators that the state needs a program that gives more families the chance to choose a school that serves their children’s needs.

Kimberlee Gill and Dr. Rebecka Spencer shared their perspective as private school leaders, recounting how far behind many children were when joining their schools after leaving traditional district schools and sharing legal precedents from other states where tax-credit based ESAs have been successful.

Courtnie Scott-Cammarata, who has served as a foster parent for years, told senators how difficult it was for foster parents to find the resources they needed to help their foster children, and said that an ESA program would be a major benefit for foster parents working to improve the lives of the children they foster.

CEAM Communications Director Nicholas Elmes explained how he wanted every Missouri child to have the same opportunities as his own daughters, noting that in 2016 1 in 10 students in the state were trapped in schools that scored at 70 percent or lower on the APR.

Statewide lobbyists for school administrators and teachers unions spoke against ESAs, arguing that creating more school choice would be harmful to the existing system by siphoning money away from school districts.

Missouri School Boards’ Association President Jan Mees inadvertently admitted that the state’s education bureaucracy’s main concern with giving parents more power to choose the best education for their children was based on how that choice would financially impact the existing school systems.

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