How School Choice Can Strengthen our School System and Save Children from Failing

 It’s an issue our state has dealt with for decades – students trapped in failing school districts. From 2013 – 2016, nearly 20,000 Missouri students didn’t receive a diploma. They didn’t walk across the stage wearing their graduation cap with plans to continue their education. Instead they dropped out. Out of those who stayed and went on to college, 40 percent needed to take remedial courses in basic math and English just be on par with other students.

The status quo is no longer acceptable. It’s time to accept that a one-size-fits all education system is not working. To address the failure of providing our children with equal access to a quality education in their own communities, the Senate this week approved Senate Bill 313. This measure includes an innovative education program that empowers families with the financial freedom to choose the right learning environment for their child. Senate Bill 313 establishes an Education Savings Account (ESA) option funded by donations to the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program. Using those donations, scholarships will be awarded to children who have been identified as having a disability, foster children, and children who have a parent in active military service.

The parents can use the funds in a manner that meets the child’s individual educational needs rather than subjecting them to an education agenda dictated by a bureaucratic agency. Account funds can cover multiple education options, including private school tuition, online education, tutoring, and much more. This bill provides scholarships to children while alleviating the financial burden on Missouri taxpayers. It also puts parents back in control of their child’s education by providing flexibility so they can choose an education program that is right for their child.

Education is the starting point of the race. Students who don’t start with a decent education will fall behind quickly. By the end of the race, it’s nearly impossible to get ahead. If we fail our children, we are failing the future of the state. It’s time we fix the broken system and allow our children to have a chance for success right from the beginning. Having educational choices will also strengthen our school system and save children from failing districts. Giving parents a choice in education gives our children and our state hope for the future.

Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester

District 15