Press "Enter" to skip to content

Opinion: For Rolla families, school choice means hope for a better education

  

As any parent will tell you, when it comes to our children’s education we do not cut corners. We want what is best for our kids. We want them to get a world-class education that will empower them to live successful careers and happy lives. To those ends, we will sacrifice just about everything to make sure that happens. 

It isn’t always easy making sure our children get the education they deserve, but it’s most certainly worth it. That is why many families make the difficult choice and decide to send their kids to a different school rather than use a public school that does not fit their child’s best interests. Many families work hard to send their children to a school where they know they will get the individual attention and curriculum they need to be happy adults. 

Even though there may be great public schools around, some families opt for an alternative out of necessity. In those cases, how is it fair that families continue to pay into a public school system when they are working so hard just to make sure their own kids get to attend the best school for them?

That is why so many families support the push for school choice reforms that are going on in Jefferson City. A huge reform is legislation that would implement education savings accounts (called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts). School choice remains a popular, viable option among Missouri families. Indeed, Gov. Mike Parson declared Jan. 15 “Missouri School Choice Week” to recognize the importance of choice in education. I appreciate the governor’s proclamation as it validates just what families are clamoring for: more freedom, more options, more choice.

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts reimburse families for education expenses made in the state. This allows families to pull their kids out of public schools, and the government allows them to direct a certain portion of funds towards pre-approved education vendors. The way I see it, that money should be following the student anyway, not the schoolhouse. I applaud the efforts of House Speaker Rob Vescovo in bringing this issue to the forefront.

I know there is tremendous effort to help ensure that families get more choices in schools as well. Take for example the issue of charter school expansion. These publicly funded, independent schools have been very effective where implemented in the state. Now is the time to expand those schools beyond the Kansas City and St. Louis areas to even more districts that would benefit from alternative schools.

I am grateful for the efforts of so many school choice champions in our state and in our legislature. The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted why the time has come for more choice in education. Families should not have to scrap and save just to put their kids into a good school. As a working mother, I humbly ask that our leaders hear the pleas of so many of their constituents and undertake the necessary task of reforming our education system and implementing school choice now!