Broad Missouri Education Overhaul Faces Stumbles

Marion Herbert's picture
Monday, March 19, 2012

Missouri legislators entered the session with aspirations for major education reform, but a lack of consensus on some of the thornier proposals has imperiled the prospects of any schools overhaul getting approved this year.

While education got top billing as lawmakers started their annual session in January, progress soon slowed when House Republican leaders sought to win support for a broader effort amid momentum for adjusting the school funding formula and dealing with transfers of students from three unaccredited school districts in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas.

As lawmakers return from their annual spring break this coming week, they face a big task to get something done. A major education bill still has not been cleared for debate by the full House because majority-party Republicans don't yet have enough votes to pass it.

The bill would create a tax-credit program to help provide scholarships for students in unaccredited districts to attend private school, expand charter schools and eliminate tenure for future teachers. In addition, school districts would set guidelines for accepting new students transferring from unaccredited school districts, and Missouri's underfunded school formula would be adjusted.

Asked about disagreements with the measure, House Speaker Steven Tilley ticked off nearly every provision: student transfers, funding formula changes, student scholarships and teacher tenure.

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