February 6, 2016

School transfer issue not a top priority for House Speaker

Some lawmakers say the issue of students transferring from failing school districts into better performing districts will be the top issue in the session that begins this week.

House Speaker TIm Jones (R-Eureka)

House Speaker TIm Jones (R-Eureka)

State law allows students in districts that are unaccredited to transfer to accredited districts, at the expense of the failing district they leave. That provision is now coming to fruition in Kansas City and St. Louis with the endorsement of the state Supreme Court and some lawmakers say the law must be “fixed.”

House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) doesn’t think there’s anything to fix.

“The Supreme Court has simply upheld a law that a previous, Democratic General Assembly put into place,” Jones says. “Now of course, the education establishment is howling and saying that’s somehow unfair. I don’t know what’s unfair about allowing a child to have an opportunity at a good education versus being forever stuck and mired in a failing school district.”

He says he is willing to negotiate with the “education establishment,” but says he sees the transfer law as giving children in failing districts a chance at success.

“I am very sensitive to the needs of districts to be able to manage the populations in their classrooms, to be able to manage their funding, but I am more sensitive to the needs of the children and the needs of these parents, who want their kids to succeed.”

Jones has favored changes on other education issues such as teacher tenure, and doesn’t rule out considering a transfer law change if such things were attached to it.

“What I’m going to say is any option that will help a child succeed will be on the table.”

Jones’ legislative agenda includes another attempt at a tax cut bill, a moratorium on the so-called jobs “border war” with Kansas and putting so-called “right to work” on the ballot.