The Missouri Education Reform Council is gathering input from the public on an open enrollment plan for Missouri.
Joe Knodell, a retired superintendent, now works with the Missouri Education Reform Council. He says the measure was brought before the Senate last session. The umbrella education bill signed by Gov. Jay Nixon in July.
Knodell says open enrollment would foster competition between schools and parent involvement in choosing where they wanted their children to attend school.
Knodell says the council has studied the some 20 other states that have open enrollment, and all that have implemented it have done well, especially Iowa, which has one of the highest graduation rates in the country.
Knodell says the council hopes to see another proposal brought before the legislature this year.
He says there are many situations where Missouri residents live near one school district but are just across the district line and end up having to drive their children 15 or 20 miles to take them to school. Open enrollment would let those parents enroll their children in whatever school district they choose. The way it stands now, if parents in Missouri want to send their kids to a school in a district other than the one they live in, they have to pay tuition.
There is one disadvantage sparking concern, Knodell says, in that some schools would lose money, “because the money would travel with the student, the state money and the tax money, so there would be some districts that would lose some population, but your better districts that people feel good about and are really doing a good job, they really won’t be affected.”
A public forum has been held in Jefferson City. Two more are scheduled to take place in Branson and St. Louis.