Missouri’s Primary Results Show School Choice Is a Clear Winner

Source: RedState

While much of the focus regarding Missouri’s primary election on Tuesday was trained on the US Senate race (Schmitt Happens: Missouri AG Wins GOP Primary for US Senate), there were a slew of state and local races on the ballot as well.

Who were the biggest winners in the Show-Me State? According to the American Federation for Children (AFC): students (via the winning issue of school choice). The AFC describes its mission thusly:

Following Tuesday’s election, the AFC issued the following press release:

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, congratulates all the Missouri candidates supported by the Missouri Federation for Children PAC during Tuesday’s primary election.  The MFC PAC invested more than $500,000 in state races to support school choice proponents during the 2022 primary. Missouri’s 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions saw incredible expansion of opportunities for students – first by creating the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Account Program then by “fixing the glitch” that previously led charter schools to be funded at significantly lower rates than district schools. Statement from Jean Evans, State Lead, American Federation for Children-Missouri:  

“Parents are making their voices heard across the state, including at the ballot box, demanding educational options and reminding elected officials that students are not one-size-fits-all. Missouri’s leaders should recognize that fact by continuing to champion school choice legislation that allows the next generation of students to access options as unique as the students themselves.”  Details: 

The following successful candidates were supported by the Missouri Federation for Children PAC:

  • Travis Fitzwater – SD 10
  • Jeff Myers – HD 42
  • Jim Schulte – HD 49
  • Tony Lovasco – HD 64
  • Holly Jones – HD 88
  • Brad Christ – HD 96
  • Lisa Thomas – HD 123
  • Darin Chappell – HD 137
  • Mitch Boggs – HD 157

Missouri Federation for Children PAC also opposed the following unsuccessful candidates, based on their stance against education freedom:

  • Jeff Roorda – SD 22
  • Nate Tate – SD 26

The Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Account Program was established by the legislature in 2021. Per the State Treasurer’s office:

“In 2021, the Missouri General Assembly passed HB349 and SB86 which established the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program, MOScholars. The law provides state tax credits for contributions to approved, non-profit Educational Assistance Organizations (EAOs). These EAOs use the contributions to award scholarships to Missouri students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and students living in low-income households.”

The “glitch” that limited charter school funding was remedied by the legislature in 2022. Per the AFC:

The Missouri General Assembly passed a bill equalizing funding for charter school students with their district school peers in a bipartisan vote Thursday.

Under the previous formula, charter students in Kansas City received $1,700 less per year while students in St. Louis received $2,500 less per year than students in district schools.

School choice advocates in the Show-Me State worked for four years to “Fix the Glitch” in the funding formula. American Federation for Children-Missouri state lead and former State Representative Jean Evans lead a coalition of school choice advocates in 2022 to bring the legislation across the finish line.

Key points of that fix:

  • Charter schools in Missouri are currently limited to the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City, but their funding formula was benchmarked to outdated property values, leading to a significant gap in funding compared to district school students.
  • The bill equalizes the funding, which will now be based on the Missouri Funding Formula.
  • The bill also includes additional charter and virtual education accountability measures and $62 million for public schools in St. Louis and Kansas City.

We had an opportunity to speak with Jean Evans, currently Missouri State Lead for the AFC, on the Mike Ferguson in the Morning Show on NewsTalkSTL Wednesday morning, specifically regarding the outcome of Tuesday’s primaries:

During that conversation, Evans emphasized what a resounding victory these primaries were for school choice candidates.

On Thursday, I asked Evans for additional comment regarding these election results. She noted that Republican Curtis Trent, who has served as state Representative since 2017, is another school-choice winner. Trent won the Republican nomination for Senate District 20 and will not face a Democratic challenger in November.

Evans also cautioned that, despite these recent successes, the work for school choice advocates is far from over:

We have made a lot of progress in Missouri, but we are not done. Educational funds should follow the student. Parents are best suited to make decisions for their children.