** PLACED ON CALENDAR FOR FULL SENATE VOTE** Please contact your Senators now!
SB 313 has been placed on the Senate calendar.
SB 313 would establish the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program
The Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program is a particular concern for PTA because this program would create an account that would allow taxpayers to may make a qualifying contribution to an educational assistance organization and claim a tax credit, as described in the act. The tax credit is for one hundred percent of the amount of the contribution. The tax credit may be carried forward for four years and may be transferred, sold, or assigned. The scholarships will be used in private schools effectively creating a voucher system in Missouri.
Missouri PTA encourages you to send emails to your Senators but also to directly call their office and let them know your feelings on this bill.
The Empowerment Scholarship Account is not good for students and parents, taxpayers and Missouri’s public schools for the following reasons:
Irresponsible expansion of tax credits when the state is facing massive shortfalls in the current budget. The Governor indicated in his State of the State address that he is opposed to the expansion of tax credits, particularly given the shortfalls in the budget. Every tax dollar the state loses through a tax credit reduces the treasury further. This bill would allow for $25 million less per year, when approximately $9 million was withheld from K-12 a mere two weeks ago.
This is a voucher in a bad disguise. This bill attempts to funnel public funds to private schools and home schools. It also allows these funds to be spent on for-profit schools, including virtual schools, with no oversight. This bill is not about seeking quality education for students. This bill is not about choice but about killing public education as we know it, with no assurances that education will be delivered at all.
Lack of financial oversight of the schools receiving the funds. There is no accountability required of the schools receiving these funds. These entities are not required to be located in Missouri or governed by Missouri residents. These entities can be for-profit institutions created solely to earn money off of the backs of Missouri students. They could be fly-by-night organizations that deliver no actual education, but profit at the expense of Missouri taxpayers.
Lack of educational oversight of the schools receiving the funds. These schools are not required to administer the MAP, identify or educate students with disabilities, or be accredited by any organization. Missouri tax dollars will be spent for students to be taught by teachers without certification or the specialized knowledge to identify learning disabilities, dyslexia, etc. The teachers and education providers receiving the funds are not even required to undergo a criminal background check. Missouri tax dollars could be spent on services and therapies that are not educationally sound. The bill states that a school “shall not be required to alter its creed, practices, admissions policy, or curriculum in order to accept students” under a scholarship, which means students with disabilities could be denied enrollment and students with disabilities can be refused specialized education. Schools could deny enrollment based on economic status or grades.
Expands education beyond the age of 21. Unlike free public education, which expires once the student turns 21 or graduates high school, parents and students may continue to receive these scholarships indefinitely as long as the student does not complete high school or passes a test for admission to college. 166.705.2
Please oppose SB 313 by voting no.
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Vice President & Director of Legislation and Advocacy