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Missouri ballot initiative would increase funding for public, private schools

By   /   February 20, 2014  /   No Comments

Part 58 of 126 in the series Educating America

By Mary C. Tillotson | Watchdog.org

Missouri ballot initiative to help fund public schools, special education programs and scholarships for private schools has proven popular.

The measure has collected about 80,000 signatures and could land on the ballot in November.

Stronger performance of choice schools omitted or downplayed in Milwaukee Journal story.

LOCAL INITIATIVES: A ballot proposal would help local communities raise money for their schools – public and private.

“We tried to make this proposal so that it would be something that would support all K through 12 education,” said Mike Hoey, executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference, which is sponsoring the initiative.

If the measure passes, taxpayers could claim a 50 percent tax credit for donations made to a foundation. Half the donated money would benefit public schools, 40 percent would fund scholarships for students wanting to attend nonprofit schools, and 10 percent would help special education programs. The tax credit is capped at $90 million.

“When you’re a young parent, you tend not to have very much income and you struggle, so this is a kind of proposal that really helps young school families, makes their schooling for their children more affordable,” he said. “As for public schools, if they feel like they’re not getting enough state aid, this is a way they can go out and raise additional private money to improve the programs in the public school.”

The Missouri National Education Association opposes the measure, said DeeAnn Aull, assistant executive director for the union.

“We believe that it dilutes general revenue that would otherwise be used for public education,” she said.

The money raised by donations would “absolutely not” make up for the money the MNEA believes the school system will lose, Aull said.

James Shuls, director of education policy at the Show-Me Institute, said that’s bad math.

“The argument that it would take money away from public education is just flatly false,” Shuls said.

The program allows a 50 percent tax credit, which means if someone donates $100, he or she owes $50 less in taxes. This means $50 less in the state coffers, but $100 more for public and private education.

The program is capped at $90 million – that means citizens can receive $90 million in tax credits if they donate $180 million. If the cap is reached, the state’s general revenue – not the smaller pot earmarked for education – will have $90 million less than it would have otherwise.

Half that money – $90 million – would go toward public education.

Additionally, public schools could claim part – or even all – of the 10 percent for special education, he said.

Several public school districts and private schools have nonprofit foundations that raise money, Hoey said, and the tax credit will give Missourians more incentive to donate and could inspire other communities to set up their own foundations.

“In rural Missouri … there’s a lot of community pride. They might have the logo of the high school on the water tower – we need more of that,” he said. “This program is a way of building up that local pride and local ownership of their schools.”

Because the program supports both public and private schools, it doesn’t pit them against each other – and that helps build community, too, he said.

“We need cooperation between public and private schools. We can have friendly rivalries, but these people often go to the same churches and same social occasions. We need to work more to build up our local communities,” he said.

School choice fits with the Catholic worldview, Hoey said, so it makes sense that the bishops’ public policy agency would sponsor the proposal.

“In Catholic teaching, we believe that parents are the first and foremost educators of their children, and they should have the right to choose schooling for their children that meets the needs of their children,” he said. “There’s a right to do that now, but if a person is of low income, it’s a rather hollow right, because they don’t have the financial ability to choose a different school.”

“We think that’s a fundamental right of people, and we believe government has a responsibility to provide some resources so people can exercise that right,” he said.

Aull disagreed.

“We look at it as simply a back-door way to advocate for tuition tax credits or vouchers, which the Missouri public has rejected continually,” she said.

Contact Mary C. Tillotson at mtillotson@watchdog.org.

This article was updated at 11:03 a.m. Monday, Feb. 24 to add comments from James Shuls.

Part of 126 in the series Educating America
  1. Arizona mom won’t give up on special needs kids, no matter what state says
  2. Reviving a 1970s lawsuit, DOJ would keep black students in failing schools
  3. Relocating sexually abusive teachers would be more difficult under Pennsylvania bill
  4. DOJ backpedals on Louisiana voucher lawsuit
  5. Court says charter schools won’t pay for Atlanta’s pension debts
  6. Biggest education impact from shutdown? Furloughed bureaucrats
  7. Appeals court upholds Arizona school choice program
  8. Indiana’s voucher program expands; diversity a factor in one family’s choice of school
  9. ‘Vouchers don’t do much good for students’ claim is false
  10. NYC mayor’s race could affect school choice
  11. Vermont public school goes independent, raises ire from state bureaucracy
  12. Arizona education savings accounts aren’t vouchers, study says
  13. Legal institute fights Alabama union’s attempt to repeal school tax credit
  14. Experts: School choice improves education in public schools
  15. SC school-choice program helps special needs kids, could expand
  16. DOJ wants Louisiana parents out of voucher lawsuit
  17. U.S. House passes bill to prevent ‘passing the trash’
  18. ‘Non-traditional’ journalists barred from viewing tax-funded test results early
  19. New center hopes to help charter schools help kids with special needs
  20. Charter school advocate to Philadelphia schools: Listen to parents
  21. $45 million not enough for Philadelphia teachers’ union
  22. Study: Rhode Islanders support school choice
  23. Study: Choice would help failing Chicago schools
  24. Scholarships could lift SC school dedicated to real-life, hands-on learning
  25. Parents make good school choices, study says
  26. Divisive charter school reform bill headed toward vote in PA
  27. In Louisiana school voucher lawsuit, DOJ changes gears
  28. Opponents sue Washington to overturn charter school law
  29. School choice proponents’ challenge? Educating parents
  30. Judge: Federal oversight may not hamper school voucher program
  31. PA lawmakers push to amend tight teacher furlough policies
  32. College ready: A Milwaukee inner-city school success story
  33. Proposed economic furloughs could slay sacred cow of seniority in Pennsylvania schools
  34. What is Massachusetts doing right?
  35. Goldwater to appeal Louisiana school voucher decision
  36. Want to end poverty? Educate the kids
  37. Breakdown in Philly schools not only about the money
  38. North Carolina scholarship program on firm legal footing, attorney argues
  39. Philadelphia school district threatens charters
  40. Belief in student ability key to success at Milwaukee charter school
  41. Three things to know about Philadelphia’s school budget: Debt, pensions and safety
  42. Choosing to sue: Here’s a look at some 2013 lawsuits involving school choice
  43. Philly charter schools outperform district counterparts
  44. California students sue state over ineffective teachers
  45. Study: Public supports parent choice in education
  46. Under new management, Philly Renaissance Schools show growth
  47. New Orleans tops school choice index
  48. AZ to consider four school-choice expansion bills
  49. Florida family ‘blessed’ to be apart of scholarship program
  50. PA lawmakers put education at top of agenda in election year
  51. Louisiana: Feds ‘more interested in skin color than … education’
  52. Charter school for Philadelphia foster children will not be renewed
  53. Governor ties proposed PA education funding to targeted grants
  54. WA’s first charter school serves children, families of ‘extreme poverty’
  55. Vermont attempts to take independence from independent schools
  56. Philly stumbles on way to simplifying enrollment system
  57. Plan for Philly schools keeps charters in check
  58. Missouri ballot initiative would increase funding for public, private schools
  59. New York charter school focuses on family, community
  60. NC school vouchers on hold
  61. WI voucher bill would help special needs students denied open enrollment
  62. Philadelphia schools will end another year in red
  63. PA universities expect state, students to pick up tab on rising tuition
  64. Two ESA bills get House support in AZ
  65. Thousands rally to support New York charter schools
  66. California’s defense begins in Vergara trial
  67. Accountability or overregulation? Charter supporters split over Minnesota bill
  68. PA considers empowering universities to authorize charter schools
  69. Bill would make Florida students eligible for scholarships
  70. To test or not to test? Florida school choice proponents split
  71. Philly school district broke, but the pay is good
  72. Philadelphia charter school sues public school district
  73. Colorado Supreme Court to hear school voucher case
  74. Vermont to reconsider education funding formula
  75. Arizona Supreme Court allows school choice program to stand
  76. Massachusetts charter school bill revived
  77. Quality schools matter more than racial integration, black leaders say
  78. FL again takes up school-choice bill
  79. Choice Media’s videocast tackles host of education issues
  80. Ending teacher seniority rules beyond Philly requires legislative action
  81. New website helps Detroit parents choose schools
  82. Philly schools caught on funding merry-go-round
  83. Louisiana bill would coordinate school choice programs
  84. New D.C. charter school lottery eases but doesn’t eliminate waiting lists
  85. Federal bill attempts to help replicate high-quality state charter schools
  86. Philadelphia schools awaiting taxes from city, state
  87. ACLU alleges discrimination in 138 NJ districts
  88. MN anti-bullying bill could have unintended consequences
  89. Mississippi’s special needs bill to return next year
  90. Illinois considers three-year ban on virtual charter schools
  91. Violent Philly high school source of worry
  92. Auditors examining troubled Philadelphia school district
  93. Civil liberties organization sues to overturn anti-bullying law
  94. Legal conflict over teacher seniority in Philly heats up
  95. Academics, culture help mom choose private school
  96. PA cyber charter schools could be funded by state, not districts
  97. Arizona expands school choice program
  98. The sticky statistic of statewide charter school performance in PA
  99. Louisiana offers new vocational technical program
  100. Benefits are driving high personnel costs in Philadelphia schools
  101. Educators look to grow with expanding Hispanic demographic
  102. Philadelphia flexes muscle over charter schools
  103. Philly school district facing another bleak budget
  104. Andre Agassi dedicates Indianapolis charter school
  105. For PA and neighboring states, school spending and graduation rates don’t add up
  106. At long last, PA school buses could be getting a boost
  107. Arizona charter schools need funding fix, proponents say
  108. Progress reports for Philadelphia schools show uneven achievement
  109. Teachers union opposes ‘Bad Teachers’
  110. Governor’s plans to boost education funding falls short
  111. Georgia’s school-choice program draws legal challenge
  112. Missouri parents want more choice in education
  113. U.S. lawmakers to consider charter school bill
  114. Florida’s school choice expansion awaits governor’s signature
  115. PA charter schools may see drop in funding with new special education formula
  116. In Nevada, your child’s school records could cost $10K
  117. AG, lawmakers propose similar updates to PA charter school rules
  118. NC school voucher program gets temporary green light
  119. Philly school district’s lack of transparency frustrates families
  120. Bullying motivates many parents to home-school, attorney says
  121. Philadelphia City Council gambles to fund schools
  122. PA Supreme Court pushes forward charter school’s lawsuit against Philly
  123. Feds consider joining school choice game
  124. Florida’s new school choice law likely to spark others
  125. California teacher reform lawsuit sparks copycat, more likely to come
  126. School choice is popular — when parents know about it
  127. What can private schools learn from charters?

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Mary C. Tillotson is a national education reporter for Watchdog.org. She has reported for School Reform News, published by the Heartland Institute, and The St. Ignace News in northern Michigan. Contact Mary at mtillotson@watchdog.org.