July 2006, Veronica O'Brien talks to the press after Dr. Bourisaw was made superintendent of the St. Louis Public Schools.
A bill before the Missouri legislature could, if passed, change the composition of schools on the Missouri side of the St. Louis region:
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri lawmakers are to debate whether parents should be allowed to pick the public school their children attend.
Supporters contend open enrollment gets parents more involved and improves academic performance. But critics argue that open enrollment can create problems with school funding and makes planning harder. Teacher and school district groups also say the benefits of open enrollment are uncertain.Â (Fox 2: Mo. lawmakers propose open enrollment system to let parents choose school kids will attend)
Opponents to this idea are fighting back:
“We think that the emphasis ought to be on improving public education in local school districts rather than encouraging students to be attending other school districts,” said Missouri School Board Association spokesman Brent Ghan.
Representative Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield) sponsored the bill to allow students the choice in which school they want to go to within 30 miles of their home. She said that there are problems in Missouri’s schools that need fixing.
“Right now, in Missouri, we are looking at some real crisis situations as far as the academics and the accreditation of some of our school districts,” she said. “So, I think from that stand point, those parents are going to be looking at opportunities for their children to attend an accredited school.” (KOMU,Â Open Enrollment Stirs Debate)
Jane Cunningham is a State Senator (R-7), not a State Rep. She is the sponsor of SB537:
Current Bill Summary
SB 537 – This act creates procedures for open enrollment across school district boundary lines for children in foster care and for children of parents who are employed as a firefighter, emergency medical technician, or peace officer who must live within a designated school district as part of their employment. School districts must adopt a policy and designate appropriate class sizes for purposes of open enrollment, incorporating the minimum standard of teacher-pupil ratio promulgated by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The policy may include spaces that could be filled by open enrollment. A student wishing to participate in open enrollment must declare intent by March first prior to the year in which the student would open enroll. If a receiving school has insufficient space for all students who want to enroll, it may institute an admissions process.
If a parent believes that a receiving district has unreasonably disapproved an application for admittance, he or she may request that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education review it. School districts must keep records and make them publicly available, as described in the act.
A student requiring special education services may only transfer if the receiving district verifies that it has an instructional program that is appropriate for the student and that the enrollment would not negatively affect the class size.
A student who enrolls in another district will be included in the receiving district for purposes of state school foundation aid.
The parent or guardian is responsible for transporting a child who enrolls in another school district. At the discretion of the receiving district, the parent or guardian may transport the child to a point on an existing school bus route.
The act also contains provisions for statewide assessment scores of students, intradistrict transfers, participation in school activities, and school district eligibility for small school grants.
This act is similar to HCS/HBs 807 & 690 (2007).Â (Source: SB537)
I have no horse in this race other than wanting inner-city schools to remain competitive with suburban districts and for our region to do a good job of educating all our future adults. We certainly should use caution before doing anything that might undermine fragile districts.Â Exploring and discussing ideas is certainly where we must begin.
The idea of open enrollment is the topic of the poll this week.Â You can vote in the upper right corner.
- Steve Patterson