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Opinion: Expanding Education Options with SB727 Helps Missouri Families

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Missouri has the opportunity to empower thousands of families and students this year with Senate Bill 727. Homeschooling families like mine can benefit from this proposed expansion of the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Account (MOScholars) program, and this bill continues to protect homeschoolers from government overreach.

My family made the decision to homeschool our children because it provided the best educational environment for their individual learning needs. Every family should be empowered to make those same decisions, regardless of ZIP code or income.

We’ve seen a movement growing throughout the country for more education freedom. Just last year, eight states passed universal choice programs, and Alabama joined that growing list earlier this year. It’s time for Missouri to follow suit and pass SB 727, which would be a significant step in the right direction. This legislation expands the existing MOScholars program statewide, among other needed educational reforms like charter school expansion and giving public school teachers a raise.

As a homeschool parent, I am always concerned about proper safeguards for homeschoolers. SB 727 includes necessary protections for families like mine. It does not require homeschool families to participate in the program, it eliminates the ability for a school district to have an attendance officer with sheriff’s authority, and it includes the Family Paced Education (FPE) statute language protecting homeschool families in case the original statute is changed in the future. These protections strengthen the program and should be welcomed by homeschoolers like myself statewide. And the simple fact is that if you don’t like the program, you can choose not to participate.

No two kids are the same. My family knows that firsthand. While public school might work great for one student, it might not be the best fit for another – but a child should never be trapped in a school that doesn’t meet their needs. No one understands the unique needs of a child better than their family, so parents should be in the driver’s seat of their children’s educational journey.

In 2022, only 34 percent of Missouri public school fourth graders and 24 percent of eighth graders tested “proficient” to grade level in mathematics on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) examination. Just 30 percent of fourth graders and 28 percent of eighth graders tested “proficient” in reading. What do these numbers tell us? They tell us that some children are being left behind in their education. They tell us that the current system is one-size-fits-all, and that doesn’t work for everyone.

There are numerous reasons why families might seek an alternative education for their children. Perhaps it’s because a school isn’t meeting their child’s academic needs, or maybe mental health concerns are being caused by bullying or an unsafe environment. It could be that their special needs might be better met in a different setting. The exact reason doesn’t matter. What matters is that families have options so that our children can have access to the best education possible, and that’s exactly what SB 727 does – it provides options for families and students in Missouri who need it.



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