Urban school choice rally moves online due to COVID-19

2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago Monday, March 16 2020 Mar 16, 2020 Monday, March 16, 2020 3:18:00 PM CDT March 16, 2020 in News
By: Noah Culpepper, KOMU 8 Reporter
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JEFFERSON CITY - The Urban School Choice Day Rally is being moved online due to COVID-19.

The rally, organized by the Children's Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM), was scheduled to take place inside the Capitol Rotunda from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesday. However, the physical meeting was cancelled on March 11 in light of Missouri lawmakers recommending large groups avoid visiting the state capitol.

Cecilia Johnson, a CEAM community outreach associate, said the decision to cancel the rally came within a few hours of the recommendation.

"We decided to do a virtual version of the rally online," she said. "So that everyone could still have access to it, you could still attend it, and be a part of the conversations we were going to have that day, but online and from the safety of your home."

According to the CEAM website, the original plan for the rally had been to bus parents, educators, and students to the state capitol from low-performing schools in St. Louis and Kansas City. Once there, attendees would listen to several speakers in the capitol rotunda before getting the chance to visit their own lawmakers to discuss educational options in their districts.

Johnson says the new plan is to hold an online discussion using Facebook Live and Zoom on March 31.

"Pretty much everyone who has been invited and who would be participating are already familiar with Zoom," she said. "So we're going to actually have the conversation on Zoom and livestream that through Facebook live."

The bottom 5% of state schools are placed on a list of schools in need of comprehensive improvement to access grant funding from the United States Department of Education. According to a list of comprehensive schools from the Missouri Department of Education, 31 out the 64 comprehensive schools in Missouri are in St. Louis (17), Kansas City (9), and Springfield (5) public school districts. The list included one school in Jefferson City Public Schools and no schools in Columbia Public Schools.

Roughly 300 people were scheduled to attend the event from St. Louis and Kansas City.

Johnson said although she is disappointed the original plan did not work, she is ready for the online transition.

"I just want everyone to be safe, and make sure their voices are heard," she said.

Johnson says the CEAM website will be updated soon to explain the new plan.

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