Northwest Missourian Opinion

The best way to determine someone’s actions in the future is to look at their actions of the past, and Missouri’s action toward public schools has proven they do not believe it is worth investing in.

College students are directly impacted by this. Tuition across the United States has increased at an alarming rate, and Missouri’s spending has decreased significantly. Last year, the state cut $2.5 million, or about 9% of Northwest’s annual revenue, and this is nothing new. From 2008-18, the state's funding has decreased more than $2,000 per student. Now the legislature is shifting to attack local public schools with House Bill 543.

Missouri HB 543 aims to make it easier for students to move out of the traditional public school system and into charter schools. If this bill does become law, it will be the next step in destroying public education. 

Rep. Mark Sharp, D-Kansas City, said he feared the bill would spell doom for school districts like the Kansas City district he grew up in. The Hickman Mills School District, he said, "is already so close to getting things together" but would be threatened by HB 543.

"My fear (is) what happens to those families that don't have the resources to take their students to other school districts," Sharp said.

Increasing enrollment in charter schools will hurt public schools by continuing to divide public funds and resources into more schools.There is only so much money to fund public education, and increasing the parents' choice in where their child goes to school will bleed established districts dry.  

During the 2018-19 school year, the Kansas City Public School system had over half of its students enrolled in a charter school. This has significantly harmed funding. 

Public schools are funding mainly through property tax, but they also receive state and federal grants. Missouri uses a formula to determine how much money each of its school districts receive each year, and the largest factor is the population of its school district. If students are not going to the public school system and are instead going to charter schools, this takes funding directly away from local public school districts. 

If HB 543 bill passes and students start to move out of traditional schools and into charter schools, traditional schools’ funding will be gutted. 

Putting more money into charter schools does not help the education system as charter schools have not been found to provide a superior form of education. In 2007, St. Louis, Missouri, opened four charter schools. By 2011, charter schools accounted for more than 10% of the district's population. The students going to these schools consistently performed worse on both state and city standardized tests. 

HB 543 is going to harm any public school system by shifting public resources away from traditional schooling into a system that is not better. While both St. Louis and Kansas City need to improve their schools, cutting funding for existing public schools is not the way to go. Missouri’s school system is hurting enough; the push for more charter schools spells the beginning of the end for public education in the state. That’s bad for everyone.

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