Legislature Passes Huge Win for Missouri Students
On Thursday, May 6, the Missouri Senate passed House Bill 349 that will allow Missouri families to receive scholarships to customize their children’s individual educational needs. Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) help parents afford the best educational opportunities for their children. Right now, there are thousands of students throughout our state whose educational needs are not being met, and their parents don’t have the financial resources needed to enroll them in a school that allows them to reach their true potential. This legislation changes that by empowering parents to have access to schools and educational resources that will best meet the needs of their children.
These scholarships will be funded by donations to nonprofits called Education Assistance Organizations (EAOs). Scholarships may be used to pay for tuition, tutoring, textbooks, virtual school, after school programs, educational therapies and curriculum. Each EAO will ensure that scholarships are prioritized for students with an approved individual education plan (IEP) and students living in a household whose annual income meets the income standard to receive free and reduced school lunches. Scholarships will be limited to students who live in cities with a population of 30,000 or more.
This past year was difficult for everyone, but especially families with kids in school. Students were forced to stay home and learn through a computer screen, and their education suffered as a result. Parents and students deserve the opportunity to find the best educational opportunities for their children, regardless of their ability to afford those additional costs.
I want to thank my colleagues in both chambers for their diligent work on this legislation and their commitment to providing additional educational opportunities for the children of our state. While this legislation is now in the hands of the governor, I am hopeful he will sign it into law and empower parents with choices and alternatives that best fit the needs of their children.