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Missouri Senate committee debates expanding charter schools

The Missouri Senate Education Committee is considering a bill that would allow charter schools to expand beyond just Kansas City and St. Louis, Missourinet reported.

The bill comes as, for the first time, enrollment in Kansas City charter schools surpassed that of public schools.

Senate Bill 650, sponsored by Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, would allow charter schools in any charter county or Missouri city with a population greater than 30,000. The plan would require school board elections to take place in November and would let charter schools use vacant traditional public school buildings. It also includes provisions about mandatory vaccinations and masking for students, as well as school workers.

Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, said parents should have more options throughout the state. “I feel like kids don’t choose to go to another school or their parents don’t choose that unless they just feel like there’s a failure where they are,” she said.

Sten. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, said the fight is about money, not about students. However, Shawn Rhoads of the Missouri School Boards’ Association said the group opposes the bill. He said charter school board members are not elected and that if charter schools are allowed across the state, the association would like them to be under the direction of the elected school board for taxpayer accountability purposes.

Jennifer Stock, a mother from the Kirkwood School District, spoke in favor of the bill.

“My husband and I spoke with the superintendent, the principal, we went to board meetings, we spoke at board meetings and we were not heard,” she said. “It came to the point where we realized our parental rights were not there in public school. Our children and the children still there are being over sexualized, immoral values introduced at an elementary level, and inappropriate school books. The big thing is the forced acceptance of other people’s beliefs in the public schools.”

Stock said she pulled her kids out of public school and enrolled them in a local Catholic school. “We’re not even Catholic, but we knew at least the morality would be there,” she said.

The committee has not yet voted on the bill.

–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice