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

1 year 7 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
(CNN) -- The problem of unsolicited robocalls has gotten so bad that... More >>
24 minutes ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 11:19:50 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A Kansas woman connected to a deadly car crash in Boone County has been sentenced to five years... More >>
1 hour ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 10:27:01 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- House forecast: Democrats will win 228 seats (and the House majority) while Republicans will win just 207 seats.... More >>
1 hour ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 10:18:31 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A Boonville man will spend the next decade in prison after pleading guilty to a deadly 2017 shooting.... More >>
1 hour ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 10:13:46 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
CALIFORNIA - A former employee in the Russellville and California school districts pleaded guilty Friday to having sexual contact with... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 8:43:00 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Water levels on the Mississippi River are dropping north of St. Louis after high waters forced... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 8:38:00 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A man will spend the next nine years in prison after pleading guilty to a deadly November 2017... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 8:37:36 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri State Treasurer’s Office put out a warning monday about a tax scam attempt. According... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 8:12:00 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Authorities have charged a suburban St. Louis man with stabbing a woman 17 times after catching... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 8:06:00 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The state Capitol building is set to receive interior upgrades after the Missouri Capitol Commission met with... More >>
4 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 7:38:00 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in Top Stories
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Authorities say a suspect in two deadly St. Louis shootings has been linked to a third.... More >>
4 hours ago Tuesday, October 16 2018 Oct 16, 2018 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 7:14:33 AM CDT October 16, 2018 in News
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — Joanne Garone Behnke has replayed every possible scenario in her mind a hundred times. ... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, October 15 2018 Oct 15, 2018 Monday, October 15, 2018 8:44:00 PM CDT October 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- Columbia Public School's out-of-school suspension rates for black students is double the rate of out-of-school suspensions given to white... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, October 15 2018 Oct 15, 2018 Monday, October 15, 2018 8:06:00 PM CDT October 15, 2018 in News
(AP) - Two companies facing multiple lawsuits over a summer tourist boat accident in Missouri that killed 17 people have... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, October 15 2018 Oct 15, 2018 Monday, October 15, 2018 7:24:00 PM CDT October 15, 2018 in News
(CNN) - A federal judge has dismissed adult film star Stormy Daniels' defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump. Daniels... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, October 15 2018 Oct 15, 2018 Monday, October 15, 2018 6:57:00 PM CDT October 15, 2018 in News
MEXICO - A Mexico teenager faces 27 counts of child sexual abuse. Probable cause documents allege 17-year-old Chandler Douse... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, October 15 2018 Oct 15, 2018 Monday, October 15, 2018 6:39:00 PM CDT October 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council is looking into a way to decrease oil and grease storage on city streets... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, October 15 2018 Oct 15, 2018 Monday, October 15, 2018 6:35:00 PM CDT October 15, 2018 in News
FULTON - Two Columbia residents were taken into custody at a traffic stop Monday charged with the possession and distribution... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, October 15 2018 Oct 15, 2018 Monday, October 15, 2018 5:27:00 PM CDT October 15, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 46°
12pm 52°
1pm 55°
2pm 56°
3pm 57°