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A Proposal In The Missouri Senate Would Give Parents The Choice Of School For Their Kids

January 31, 2001
By: Seth Bachelier
State Capital Bureau

This is Seth Bachelier for Missouri Capitol Caucus.

When the U.S. Supreme Court deliberated over last year's presidential election, the main debate centered around local control versus state control.

A bill filed in the Missouri Senate has sparked similar debate.

Under the proposal, the state would take control of where students attend school away from the local school boards and give that decision to parents.

Parents would be free to send their child to any school within their district, regardless of where they live.

The bill would also give kids preference to follow their siblings to school or attend schools where their parents work.

Republican Senator Marvin Singleton sponsors the bill.

He says his plan would help relieve high transportation costs because it would allow parents to drive kids to schools that are either closer to home or work.

And according to Singleton, the plan also has educational value.

RunTime: 8 seconds
OutCue: "interested in that."
Contents: Singleton says that children should be able to go where they know teachers in certain fields are better.

Aside from the educational opportunities and transportation costs, Singleton says he thinks freedom to choose is very important.

RunTime: 8 seconds
OutCue: "local school boards."
Contents: Singleton says that ultimately, he thinks that parents should be able to choose where their kids are educated.

But, more control over local school boards is what Democratic Senator Stephen Stoll doesn't want.

Stoll says that schools have too little control as it is.

For instance, the state already has educational standards that schools must meet.

And schools can't even choose when they start and finish the academic year.

Stoll says he thinks local school boards need to retain some power.

RunTime: 10 seconds
OutCue: "make those decisions."
Contents: Stoll says that elected school board officials should still have some control instead of the state mandating intradistrict choice.

Beyond the issue of local control, Stoll says that if kids could choose where they go to school, that might lead to schools recruiting students to play sports.

But, he says his main opposition is that it isn't necessary to allow parents and kids to choose when most school districts already have that option available.

From Jefferson City, I'm Seth Bachelier.