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On January 29, Rabbi Schlomo Soroka, the Agudath Israel of Illinois’ director of government affairs, accompanied 40 young girls from Torah Prep of St. Louis to the National School Choice Week rally in Missouri’s state capitol. These students, all between the 5th and 8th grades, spent their day at the State Capitol Building in Jefferson City meeting with one senator or representative after another to discuss the legislative process and school choice.
The first stop for Rabbi Soroka and his students was the Senate Chamber. Here, they met Senator Brian Williams who introduced the legislative process and created an open dialogue in which the students could discuss their educational needs.
Senator Jill Schupp entered the Senate Chamber shortly after to teach the students about education funding and private schools. After thanking the Senators for their time, the students then moved on to the Capitol’s rotunda.
Once at the rotunda, the Torah Prep students had the opportunity to hear Missouri Governor Michael Parson declare January 26 through February 1st as Missouri’s School Choice Week.
The students concluded their tour of the capitol with a meeting with Representative Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who has been working closely alongside Rabbi Soroka for over a decade. Rep. Chappelle-Nadal has supported school choice efforts for many years, recently pledging her support of Senate Bill 707, which aims to establish a tax credit under the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program, and Senate Bill 581, which will establish the “Show Me a Brighter Future Scholarship Program,” funding 529 tuition accounts that allow K-12 qualified students to attend the school of their choice.
Rabbi Soroka has been an advocate for School Choice legislation in Missouri and Illinois for ten years and has spent much of that time building political relationships, passing school choice policy, and participating in democratic negotiations.
“No one makes better advocates for kids than the kids themselves,” said Rabbi Soroka, whose students found the rally to be “enjoyable, educational, and in my humble opinion, helpful to the cause.”
The students at Torah Prep have since continued their relationship-building by writing letters to their legislators.
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