Legislation that’s designed to stop a potential mass exodus of students from unaccredited schools in St. Louis and Kansas City to nearby suburban schools was heard Tuesday before a Missouri Senate committee.
The bill’s provisions include scholarships for kids in unaccredited public schools to attend private schools, and it would allow accredited schools to open charter schools in unaccredited districts. Tina Hardin of St. Louis spoke in favor of the bill. Her son was accepted into a Catholic school, but says she can’t afford to send him there.
“I don’t want my kids to say, ‘mom, you failed me…no, the system failed you because I couldn’t send you where you needed to go,'" Hardin said. "These kids are our future, and we have some intelligent kids around.”
Byron Clemens of the Missouri chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, testified against the bill. He called it a blatant attempt to allow privateers access to taxpayer dollars.
“It permits tax credit vouchers, unregulated 501-C3’s, nobody’s addressed that yet," Clemens said. "Any foundation, running from the Show-Me Institute to Scientologists, could have access to public dollars in this (bill).”
Testimony for and against the bill ran nearly three hours Tuesday afternoon before the General Laws committee adjourned. The sponsor, Jane Cunningham (R, Chesterfield), also chairs the committee. It will hold a vote on the measure at a later date.