After a month without action, some movement might happen this week on a comprehensive education bill in the House.
Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R-Eureka) and Elementary and Secondary Education Committee Chairman Scott Dieckhaus (R-Washington) both suggest the package sponsored by Dieckhaus might pass out of the House Rules Committee this week. The bill includes fixes for the Foundation Formula and the Turner Decision.
House Democrats are critical of the bill’s inclusion of tuition tax credits, otherwise referred to as “passport scholarships.” Dieckhaus says they are needed to let the legislation benefit all of the students in the St. Louis City public schools.
He says if surrounding St. Louis County school districts cap capacity at 8,300 students, that won’t be enough. “We need to serve 15,740 students … the passport scholarships could help us serve an additional 8,000 students, so we can actually serve that full number of students.”
Dieckhaus says that language is more specific to St. Louis, while a different approach is needed for students from Kansas City-area schools. A proposal that is being considered, but has not yet been added to the bill, is based on what has worked in New Orleans schools. “The top performing schools became the New Orleans Parish School District, and the rest of the schools were chartered and they’ve seen really tremendous progress by doing that and we’re wondering if we can replicate that.” Dieckhaus says such a plan might be considered when the bill reaches the floor.
His proposal also includes scaled back language dealing with teacher tenure. Seniority-based layoffs were removed, decisions about salaries are returned to local school boards, and tenure is eliminated for teachers hired for the 2013-14 school year or later.