Monday, June 29, 2015

Why Gov. Nixon vetoed HB 42

(From Gov. Jay Nixon)

Gov. Jay Nixon Friday joined educators, administrators and members of the General Assembly at Ritenour High School in St. Louis County to discuss his veto of House Bill 42, saying it fails to solve the problems of unaccredited school districts in the St. Louis region and creates new problems and mandates for public schools across the state.

“House Bill 42 fails to solve the problems of unaccredited schools in the St. Louis region, and it creates new problems and mandates for districts around our state that are already doing well,” said Gov. Nixon. “In its original form, HB 42 focused on trying to solve the well-known problems of the current transfer law, and address serious flaws in last year’s attempt at a legislative solution. However, as the legislative process unfolded, this bill veered off track. By the time it got to my desk, it mandated expensive voucher schemes, neglected accountability, and skirted the major, underlying difficulties in the transfer law, while creating a host of potential new problems for districts across the state.”

In his veto message to the General Assembly, the Governor identified four major problems with House Bill 42:
Vouchers for virtual schools: HB 42 would require taxpayers to pay for private vouchers for virtual education, with no public accountability for student performance, and without oversight by locally elected school boards.

Expensive mandates and a bigger bureaucracy: HB 42 is crammed full of new committees, special task forces, bureaucratic agencies, and idiosyncratic mandates that are unnecessary, unproven and expensive.
Failure to include a reasonable limit on tuition: The legislature’s failure to provide for a reasonable limit on the tuition that can be charged by a school district receiving transfer students would result in HB 42 draining resources from the schools that are struggling the most
Forcing hundreds of students out of schools they currently attend: House Bill 42 would deny hundreds of current transfer students their right to continue being educated in the receiving districts. Forcing these students out of their current school districts would be disruptive, counterproductive and unfair to students and their families.

“What started out as an effort to help students and schools was hijacked in an attempt to undermine public education across the state,” said Rep. Clem Smith, whose district includes the Normandy Schools Collaborative. “This bill does nothing to help struggling schools or our communities, and I strongly support Governor Nixon’s veto of this damaging legislation.”

“Quality schools for Missouri’s children are vital to the success of our communities and our economy, so it’s unfortunate that the legislature really missed the mark with this bill,” said Sen. Jill Schupp. “I’m glad Governor Nixon recognizes that House Bill 42 is bad public policy—it’s not good for our communities and, most importantly, it’s a bad deal for our kids.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Nixon announced an historic agreement among St. Louis-area superintendents and education leaders to provide a range of services aimed at improving the educational performance and financial stability of the Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts. The goal of the agreement, reached after a number of meetings with the Governor’s office, is to ensure all students receive a quality education and to put Normandy and Riverview on a path to regain state accreditation.

The bill is opposed by education groups around the state including the Missouri School Board Association, the Missouri Association of School Administrators, the Missouri National Education Association, AFT Missouri, the Missouri State Teachers Association, the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Missouri Association of Rural Education.

A copy of the Governor’s veto message of House Bill 42 is available here.

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