One member of the Legislative Black Caucus has strong criticism of that group and of Governor Jay Nixon (D), following the veto of legislation to change the state’s student transfer law.
Representative Courtney Curtis (D-Berkeley) says the issue has resulted in a “rift” in the Legislative Black Caucus.
Nixon on Tuesday made good on his promise to veto that legislation, SB 493. He says it would violate the state’s Constitution by allowing, in specific circumstances, tax dollars to go to private schools. He and other critics said the bill was merely an effort to get school voucher language into state law and did nothing to address the problems created by Missouri’s 1993 transfer law.
Curtis disagrees with that assessment.
“That was a clever marketing strategy, but that’s it,” says Curtis. “If you ask me it only allowed us to continue running in place, given that Normandy’s been unaccredited for the past 20 years, as opposed to taking a step forward towards progress.”
The Normandy district will be replaced July 1 with a new entity called the Normandy Schools Collaborative, that will have no accreditation status whatsoever. The State Board of Education has voted to prohibit new student transfers from that district and deny the transfers of more than 130 students who moved to the district last summer but didn’t attend it in the 2012-13 school year.
Curtis thinks the Board has acted based on the Governor’s announcement that he would veto the legislation, and says the combination of its actions and that veto leave Normandy students and parents trapped.
“It doesn’t leave (those parents and students) in a place where they have hope for progress,” says Curtis. “There will certainly be lawsuits against the Board’s actions. Even with regard to students not being able to continue transferring when they lawfully transferred in the first place, it only creates more uncertainty there.”
Curtis wants to see a plan for fixing the transfer issue from the governor, and has a similar criticism of the Legislative Black Caucus.
“Where is the leadership of the Black Caucus with regard to this issue?” asks Curtis. “It’s only our districts that are effected by the lack of action with regard to this issue”
Some of that caucus’ members and other House Democrats who opposed SB 493 said an alternative was offered, that they referred to as a “clean” transfer fix, but Curtis says it didn’t go far enough to address all the issues related to transfers.
Attempts to reach for an interview Representative Tommie Pierson (D-St. Louis), a Legislative Black Caucus member and critic of the transfer legislation, have been unsuccessful. Pierson joined Nixon at a media conference in St. Louis Tuesday to veto SB 493. He later released a statement saying Nixon is “to be commended for the veto” and called the legislation, “an anti-public education bill masquerading as a fix to the flawed student transfer law that is pushing previously financially stable districts into bankruptcy.”