The state Senate recently passed a wide-ranging education bill. The main part of the bill would modify the Missouri Empowerment Accounts Program, to expand accessibility to private schooling for students across Missouri.

Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, explained why changes to the public education system are needed.

“We’ve kind of just maintained the status quo for a really, really long time and have just thrown more and more and more money at a system and not ever really thought a whole lot about if the system is working or not,” he said.

Despite the bill expanding eligibility to include all elementary and secondary school students living in the state for access to private schooling, Rowden stated that his goal is not to “abolish” public education.

“I want public education to be functioning and hitting on all cylinders,” said Rowden. “I want those schools to be museums where people can go and get the best education that they can get anywhere in the world. In a public school in Missouri, that would be incredible, because 99% of the kids, whatever the number of the kids statewide, they’re going to traditional publics, and there’s nothing that we do here that’s really ever going to change that.”

During debate, Democrats argued that taxpayer funds should not be used on private school tuition. Despite being strongly against tax credits for private schooling, Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, called the overall bill a “good compromise.”

“This might be your last opportunity for eight years to have a generational investment into public education,” said Rizzo. “I mean, that’s what people on the other side of this need to really to think about that are uneasy about certain parts of it because you might not see any sort of investment into public education if Jay Ashcroft’s governor. If Bill Eigel’s governor. We’re trying to, my perspective was to try to get ahead of it, if in fact there is a situation in the next election cycle where we’re up against it and people not only tried to advance anti-public education programs but tear down public education even more than what they already do. So, this might be the last ship out.”

The bill is now under consideration in the state House.

Click here for more information about the bill.

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