March 15, 2019

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Missouri Education News

Missouri lawmakers approve Bible class in public schools

By Steven Dial

A bill passed by the Missouri House would allow school districts to offer the Bible as an elective class.  “I think it is a really bad idea,” said Kansas City United Church of Christ pastor Chase Peeples.  Teaching the Bible from a historic perspective is the reasoning for some to approve a bill that would make the Bible an elective in public schools.  “If it is a subject matter that is offering education about an important piece of literature, it should not be prohibited,” said Stephen Shields.  “Public schools should not be focused on religious education, I think there are basics a student should be learning in public school and religion is not one of them,” said Bill Carriger.  The bill passed the House and is now in the state Senate. The lawmaker who proposed the law, Rep. Ben Baker (R-Neosho), is from southwest Missouri and works for a religious affiliated college.  If approved by the Senate and governor, a social studies teacher would teach the course. It would be up to individual school districts to offer the class as an elective.

National Education News

Kansas GOP’s tax bill could undercut school funding it backs

By Education Week

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican legislators in Kansas helped advance Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan to boost funding for public schools Thursday before sending her an income tax relief bill that could make it harder for the state to sustain the new spending.  The GOP-controlled Senate voted 32-8 to approve Kelly’s proposed education funding increase of roughly $90 million a year, sending the plan to the House. Top Republican senators backed the plan as the most straight-forward fix, putting them at odds with conservatives who want new money tied to policy changes , including a voucher program to allow bullied students to move to new schools, public or private.  Kelly’s plan is designed to satisfy a Kansas Supreme Court order last year requiring legislators to increase the state’s education funding, currently at more than $4 billion a year. Attorneys for four local school districts that sued the state in 2010 are pressing for a larger increase and Democrats who voted as a bloc for Kelly’s plan Thursday had supported the districts. Top Republicans argue that even Kelly’s plan would be a financial stretch.  But the Senate also approved, on a 24-16 vote, a bill pushed by GOP leaders and aimed at preventing individuals and businesses from paying higher state income taxes because of changes in federal tax laws at the end of 2017. Republicans said the issue is fairness, while Democrats excoriated the bill as a budget buster, particularly after senators approved more money for public schools.

 

A first step toward fixing education

by Jeanne Allen, The Washington Examiner   March 14, 2019 03:34 PM

Last month, federal lawmakers unveiled the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, which would expand federal support for innovation, opportunity, and access to high-quality education for students across the country. The proposal represents a significant step forward in strengthening the education system for all students and especially for low-income students, who are too often overlooked.  The proposal would create a federal tax credit program to incentivize private funding of student scholarships. States that choose to participate will provide individuals and corporations a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions to selected nonprofit organizations that provide scholarships. States will decide how students might use each scholarship, allowing every state to tailor their use of federal tax credit funds to their needs.  The policy idea is good news for all families, but low-income and working-class students are the biggest winners. Scholarships will help families tailor education to the needs of their students. Such programs in states have turned around the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.

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