Bills could hurt local education

    The attack on public education in Missouri is a comment on the importance of education for the future. At this time there are 33 bills in the Missouri House at various levels in the process to become law.

    These bills encompass many aspects of elementary and secondary education such as changes in how snow days are counted and the reintroduction of cursive writing. Many of these bills also affect allocation of tax dollars. The attack on the public school education concerns the monies for alternative education or charter schools. HB 137 and SB 55 among other bills retain and direct disbursement of local school districts’ funds, personnel and resources, both federal and state, to support charter schools.
    HB137 attempts to increase local districts financial responsibility for students who attend charter schools (Section A) “to be paid from the teachers’ fund…modified formula for average daily attendance, plus all other state and federal aid for each pupil who attends the charter or a workplace that declares itself a charter”; even if that workplace is operated by the pupil’s parents. Further that payment is based on district average daily attendance making it a larger portion of the collective pie.
    SB55 begins as a bill to increase public contributions, not taxes, for scholarships, then states “the district shall pay charter schools, provide or contract transportation for all students, as well as, resources, and staffing,” if necessary, for students and those students with special needs. The Senate Bill, however, limits payments to $125,000 per school year.
    Department of Elementary and Secondary Education can take funds from districts that do not pay the charter and deduct from further payments to districts. If the charter school dissolves the residential district of said school must pay liabilities of the charter. (HB137) Education is based on local control for the education of all.
    There is a body of knowledge that each of our children need to participate and function within our country. Nothing in mentioned in the bill that addresses curriculum of charters must maintain that common body of knowledge. The responsibility of the charter record keeping of students’ attendance and test scores.
    I have no doubt some charter school produce extremely capable citizens. I think this splintering of the knowledge base needed by all students and citizens will detract from our common good. There have long been school that correspond with local public school, Those schools are self- supporting: families and students provide their own transportation, meals if necessary.
    Those schools are eligible for free and reduced meal programs. Education is the right for all; therefore the responsibility of all. The government established public education; therefore, decisions that remove or withhold monies from already underfunded schools will continue the decline of public education and the potential of many students.
    The terms of the present bills HB 137 and SB 55 ignore the premise of public education by splintering the funds needed to sustain good, not simply adequate, local public education. The decisions made now will affect future educational opportunities.
Deborah Dicus