Some passionate discussions are likely to unfold today at the Missouri Capitol during a legislative committee hearing about a possible statewide charter schools expansion. The same arguments return year after year in some legislators’ quest to go beyond current state law of allowing charter schools in St. Louis and Kansas City school districts, and any that are unaccredited.
State Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles, who chairs the Joint Committee on Education, tells Missourinet he hopes discussion will go beyond the typical divisive battle cries.
“It becomes kind of like battle lines and when dollars are involved, it always very touchy. But the truth is, we’re really needing to look out for the education of the students. In an ideal world, they would work together and keep the students’ benefit at the center of their controversies, not the dollars and not the accountability piece,” says Wood.
Opponents of charter schools, which are publicly funded and operate independently, say the for-profit organizations take money away from public schools and more charter schools are failing than public schools.
Supporters of such legislation say charter schools allow students in failing public schools to go to a school that is providing a better education and charter schools have just as much accountability as public schools.
“I would like to see the argument of the APR scores really take a backseat and look more at what we can do positive to say ‘Here’s what we need to do to make charter schools more effective,’ if it’s holding them to a higher standard, closing the bad ones, having more accountability,” he says.
Wood hopes a workable solution can be found during next year’s legislative session that all sides can live with.
“I think if we don’t have the discussion like we’re going to have with the Joint Committee and come to language that we can all agree on or at least a large portion, it’s probably going to meet the same fate as every other year,” says Wood.
Today’s hearing will begin at 10 a.m.