By J.B. Connoley

State Rep. Nate Walker (R-Kirksville) says his Senate colleagues have told him a proposed statewide expansion of charter schools will not be received there with much enthusiasm, and it may be dead on arrival. The Missouri House has passed the plan by one more vote than the necessary minimum.

Representative Nate Walker (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The measure includes changes that did not get Walker to change his mind.

“The speaker was very much for this bill and he tried to persuade me to change my opinion,” says Walker. “I represent the people of the third district in the state of Missouri in north Missouri. I’d almost rather jumped off the Missouri River bridge than to vote for house bill 634.”

Supporters of the bill say charter schools, which are publicly funded and operate independently, allow students in failing public schools to go to a school that is providing a better education.

“They (charter schools) are actually failing in a greater capacity than the public school systems,” says Walker.

The legislation’s opponents contend that the state can’t hold charter schools accountable. Supporters of the measure say charter schools have just as much accountability as public schools.

Missouri’s charter schools are currently limited to St. Louis and Kansas City school districts, and any that are unaccredited.