School Choice Wins!

( – In a huge win for parents wanting a say in their kids’ education, Missouri’s Republican Governor Mike Parson signed two major education bills to broaden the scope of school choice within the state.

The governor signed SB 727 and HB 2287 to usher in several educational reforms, including an expansion of the Missouri Empowerment Scholarships (MOScholars) program.

Critics of the school choice movement like Blue Missouri executive director Jess Piperha said on X (formerly Twitter) that they strongly oppose the measure for being “a poison pill.”

Specifically, SB 727 will raise the tax-credit donation limit for the MOScholars program from $50 million to $75 million.

According to the text of the bill, it also broadens eligibility by raising the income threshold from 200% to 300% of the limit “used for free and reduced lunch.”

Meanwhile, HB 2287 tweaks the terminology and eligibility criteria within the MOScholars program’s regulations.

While “home school” students remain excluded, those enrolled in “family-paced education school” are now eligible to participate in the program.

This legislative change seems designed to appeal to traditional homeschoolers. They often say they are concerned about potential government oversight tied to funding from school choice initiatives.

A report from the libertarian Cato Institute highlights these worries and suggests that such funding could prompt regulatory scrutiny.

The Institute advocates for clear legislative language to ensure that participants in school choice programs are not “legally classified as homeschoolers.”

For example, Utah distinguishes between a “home-based scholarship student” and a “home school student” based on participation in state programs.

Initially established in 2021, the MOScholars program helps families cover costs for private or virtual schooling, including tutoring and transportation.

The newly signed bills also introduce other educational enhancements. For instance, teacher salaries will see a huge increase from $25,000 to $40,000 annually.

Furthermore, the legislation specifies that charter schools will have the opportunity to expand within one county and any move to a four-day school week will now require a public vote.

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