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Bill to expand charter school education passes House committee

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As a retired English teacher, Rep. Rebecca Roeber is very familiar with the issues facing Missouri’s public education system.

Now, she has emerged as one of the Missouri General Assembly’s leading proponents of education reform initiatives. Her House Bill 634 would allow charter schools to expand to Missouri’s first class and charter counties. Currently, charter schools only operate in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Her bill would require that charter schools operate within existing school districts and not accept students from across district lines. It would also give public school districts the first right of refusal to operate new charter schools.

She said her bill will give more Missouri parents the ability to choose the best educational environment for their children. In addition, it would bring an element of healthy competition to the state’s education system.

“If you have to compete for those students then you have to up your game,” said Rep. Roeber, a Republican from Lee’s Summit. “That’s what I’ve told districts that are concerned about charters coming in. There will not be a charter coming in unless there is a demand from the community. And if there is and they are concerned about that, then they meet those parents’ and families’ needs.”

On Feb. 27 her bill passed the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education. However, Rep. Roeber said the idea is facing significant pushback from some education groups. She is urging business leaders to become engaged in the discussion and ask their local lawmakers to support her bill.

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