On May 16, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board invoked the historic Brown vs. the Board of Education case in a diatribe against lawmakers and the bogeyman (Rex Sinquefield). Members of the editorial board are disappointed, to say the least, with how Missouri Senate Bill 493 – the “transfer fix” – turned out. Namely, they are concerned that cutting transportation for students who transfer to other districts will limit choices. They also suggested, “The transfer fix was supposed to determine a fair amount of tuition for the sending districts to pay to the receiving districts.” Senate Bill 493, they claim, did not do that.
With all of the blame that the paper’s editorial board dished out, I was a bit surprised to find that they did not mention the real culprits standing in the way of these legislative fixes – the education establishment. In a letter to the editor, I pointed this out:
From the outset, the education lobby — the strongest lobby in the state — has fought to limit the number of students transferring out of unaccredited school districts. Thanks to lobbyists from the Missouri Association of School Administrators, the Missouri School Boards Association, and a bevy of other education groups, Senate Bill 493 was never about providing options for students. It was about neutering the transfer law.
Apparently, the editors did not take notice of my letter. Yesterday, they once again attacked lawmakers and the bogeyman. They added Kate Casas, of the Children’s Education Council of Missouri and StudentsFirst, to their list of malcontents. Yet they once again failed to mention the education lobby.
Let’s think about it for a minute. The two major problems the Post-Dispatch editors have with the bill, besides the private option, are transportation and tuition. Who would lobby to cut transportation funds? Who would lobby to keep the tuition high or not count transferring students’ test scores? I doubt any lawmaker came up with these ideas on his or her own.
Did the bogeyman, Kate Casas, or StudentsFirst suggest cutting transportation funding? Did they fight to keep tuition high?
As far as these two issues go, I’m on the same page as the editorial board. In my testimony before the Missouri House Education Committee, I suggested a simple method for calculating a lower tuition. I also noted that the bill removed transportation and suggested creating a fund to pay for the expense.
If you think about this objectively, the only conclusion is that the education establishment is to blame for the major problems in Senate Bill 493.