As part of a growing conservative trend nationwide, State Sen. Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester) wants to allow the creation of education savings accounts for students with disabilities, foster children and children with parents in the military. A Missouri House committee will consider his proposal today.

Sen. Andrew Koenig (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“It really empowers parents to really direct their child’s education,” says Koenig.

It would develop a tax credit program that parents of special needs children could use to pay for things like private school tuition, textbooks, therapy, tutoring, home schooling and online classes.

“Sometimes the public schools just aren’t meeting all the needs because it’s hard to be everything to everyone,” says Koenig. “If there’s a better option there, then I think allowing parents to makes those choices is in the best interests of their kids is the best thing.”

Opponents say the accounts would take money away from already underfunded public education. They also say the measure would create a lack of accountability for the quality of education students would receive.

The measure would also allow students to transfer from an unaccredited school building to an accredited school within the district first. Koenig does not expect the transfer changes to be a major cost increase to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“I think that’s also really important because if they’re in an unaccredited building, they’re not going a good education and those kids deserve that,” says Koenig.

A handful of states offer education savings accounts, including Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.