Special report: KOMU 8 News hits the road to examine school choice

1 year 4 months 2 weeks ago Wednesday, March 01 2017 Mar 1, 2017 Wednesday, March 01, 2017 6:28:00 PM CST March 01, 2017 in Continuous News
By: Abby Breidenbach, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

JEFFERSON CITY - As school choice is talked about more and more in state and national government, Missouri parents wonder what the program could look like once implemented here.

The many school choice systems throughout the country including vouchers, educational savings accounts and scholarships, all have the same goal: choices for parents to choose the education that will be most effective for their children.

Essentially, the programs take the amount of public dollars it would cost to send a child to a public school, and allow that child to use those dollars to attend any school, whether that be a private school, a charter school, a traditional school or any kind of religious school.

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, said Senate Bill 32 is not quite a voucher program.

"It operates very similarly," he said. "Except that it doesn't use public funds for the scholarships. The scholarships are funded with tax credits." 

If SB 32 passes, the scholarships would be available to any student in the state.

Advocates of school choice said they are almost certain the program would only benefit Missouri students, but can't be sure until it is put into action.

KOMU 8 News traveled to Evansville, Indiana, where school vouchers have been an option for almost a decade, to see how schools there - both private and public - have been impacted by school choice.

School choice in action

Daryl Hagan, the superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Evansville, said, "The program's benefits have been overwhelming."

More than 2,000 students within the 26 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Evansville take advantage of school vouchers. 

Hagan said school choice allows his students to be formed further in the values their families choose to uphold.

"Parents should put their children in the school that equates with their family values, that reflects the family values that they want for their family, and that's why it's important for families to have a choice, so that everyone, not just the wealthy, can make that call," he said.

Hagan said it's true for students in other private schools, both religious and non-religious, in Evansville.

David Smith, superintendent of the public schools in Evansville, agrees families should be able to choose where their children are educated, but he does not see school choice as the answer. 

"I think that, on the surface, the idea makes a lot of sense, but frankly its called school choice for a reason, and it's the schools choosing, not the parents choosing," Smith said. "Schools are choosing, private schools are choosing which students they want to serve. To suggest that any student can go to any private school that they want certainly is not the case."

Smith said he worries private schools are choosing to admit only students with great academic potential, leaving the public schools to take care of special needs students and those who are more difficult and more expensive to educate.

"So then you have an increasingly larger population in public schools of expensive students to educate and a dwindling pot of money," he said. "As you take funding out of public schools and fund actually now another new enterprise, one where the schools get to pick the students, then it probably fundamentally weakens public education."

Smith said the beneficiaries seem to be students and families who were already paying to attend private schools.

"Really what we've seen is the largest percentage of students accessing vouchers are students that were already in private schools. That was never the intent of vouchers when it was first sold to the public." 

Hagan said the Catholic diocese isn't seeing any more money than usual, and the schools themselves are not benefiting. 

Separation of church and state

A major concern of the bill's opponents is that it may violate the First Amendment - separation of church and state. 

Emery said SB 32 is within the guidelines of Missouri's constitution, and the students, not religious schools, are reaping the benefits of the public dollars spent.

Neither the public nor the Catholic schools' superintendents in Evansville saw it being an issue. Both said the money is meant for the families to have their children educated the way they see fit, and if that education happens to be a religious one, that is the family's choice.

Hagan said the church is not profiting in anyway and the government is not promoting any particular religion.

More News

Grid
List
WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States is open to holding direct talks with the Taliban to encourage negotiations between the... More >>
2 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 4:30:00 AM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) - A 29-year-old gun-rights activist served as a covert Russian agent while living in Washington, gathering intelligence on... More >>
2 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 4:14:00 AM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – City council approved two public hearings in August to discuss possible increases to the property tax and sewer... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 7:46:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Former Gov. Eric Greitens' campaign spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees in his... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 7:03:27 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to rename the Columbia post office located on Walnut... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 6:51:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - Family, friends and law enforcement continue to search Little Dixie Lake Conservation Area for Jerry Kinman. ... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 6:00:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri's U.S. senators are standing by the intelligence community's conclusion that the Russians interfered in the... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 5:10:30 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A man who was fatally shot after wounding three Kansas City police officers during a gunfight... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 3:30:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY - A group responsible for ballot petition advocating major reform in Jefferson City said they are almost positive... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 3:19:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A dialogue that began in October 2017 among the East Campus community could finally have an answer Monday.... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 2:10:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
(CNN Money) -- Adidas is racing to make its products more sustainable. The global sportswear maker said Monday that... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 1:18:32 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- A common drug used to control blood pressure and help prevent heart failure was announced by the US... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 1:05:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- US President Donald Trump said Monday he holds both the United States and Russia responsible for the breakdown... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 11:08:00 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Work to remove several large pin oaks from Mizzou's Francis Quadrangle began Monday after a recent study showed... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 10:17:00 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
BEIJING (AP) — China announced it filed a World Trade Organization challenge Monday to President Donald Trump's latest tariff threat,... More >>
21 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 9:52:57 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
HELSINKI (AP) — President Donald Trump and Russia's Vladimir Putin opened their long-awaited summit Monday with a wink and slouch,... More >>
21 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 9:37:00 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A Jefferson City man died in Iowa Saturday morning during police pursuit. A Fayette County Sheriff's... More >>
22 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 8:20:00 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - Boone County deputies investigate a death at North Lakewood Drive and East St. Charles Road. Deputies... More >>
23 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 7:15:00 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 72°
7am 73°
8am 76°
9am 79°
10am 82°