Letter: What has caused a lack of support for charter school expansion in the legislature?


There is quite a stir going on at the State Capitol building lately, in both the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate regarding charter school expansion from St. Louis and Kansas City to all across Missouri.  

Recently, Senate Bill 292 “the Charter School bill” was debated, and met with resistance from several bi-partisan senators engaged in a multi-hour filibuster. House Bill 581 “the Charter School bill” vote has also stalled. What has caused this lack of support for charter school expansion in the legislature?

First, let’s examine the dollar cost “per student” of operating charter versus public schools. Because of their comparable student size, Kansas City’s mix of charter and public schools versus Springfield public schools is a good sample. Kansas City has 15 high schools – Springfield has 5. Cost per student for building operations and administration in Kansas City is $2,924 – Springfield $1,374. Transportation cost per student for Kansas City is $1,109 – Springfield $446. Overall cost per student in Kansas City is $4,033 – Springfield $1,820. Whopping 55% less.

As of now, 27 of 65 authorized Missouri Charter Schools (41.5%) have closed their doors. Over $785 million dollars of taxpayer money has disappeared along with those schools. In comparison, there has been (1) Missouri public school closed by lack of performance, (5) due to financial issues, and (9) schools are  “provisionally” accredited for a total of 15 schools out of 517 public school districts (3%).

If our public schools achieved the same dismal record of success as charter schools, the outcry all across Missouri would be deafening; we would have closed 214 public schools. 41.5% failure rate is unacceptable to consider any expansion of statewide charter schools.