Tax-funded ESA program will become state’s first school choice program
INDIANAPOLIS—EdChoice, a national nonprofit organization that promotes state-based educational choice programs, commends the state of Missouri for embracing educational opportunity with its first school choice program.
Earlier this year, lawmakers in both chambers approved legislation containing Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, a tax-credit-funded education savings account or ESA program. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed the original bill into law today along with a bill that reduced the cap on the program.
“This program means some families in Missouri’s largest cities will finally be able to access educational options that have been out of reach for far too long,” said Robert Enlow, President and CEO of EdChoice, which advocates for universal school choice programs for all families.
The Missouri Empowerment accounts are available to students who reside in cities of 30,000 residents or more along with counties using a charter form of governance. Charter-governed counties in Missouri include Jackson, St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties. The program is capped at $25 million dollars and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
“The last year has highlighted the flaws that have always existed in the one-size-fits-all model of education and Missouri families made it clear that the status quo was no longer acceptable,” said Susan Pendergrass, Director of Research and Education Policy at the Show-Me Institute, a Missouri-based think tank that advocates for school choice.
“The passage of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts is a historic moment for our state and should be celebrated as a milestone, but not a finish line. All Missouri students have the right to choose the education that works best for them and these scholarships are a start to helping them exercise that right.”
EdChoice has worked with state partners in Missouri since 2015, helping train parent advocates and educate policymakers on the benefits of choice.