Virtual learning bills heard in House committee

A Missouri House committee is considering legislation to bolster the state’s programs for virtual learning.

The effort comes as Missouri has fallen behind in the effort to bring digital learning opportunities to K-12 students, according to a Missouri Chamber Education Foundation study released earlier this year.

The study found that unlike many other states, Missouri students do not have a publicly funded online school option.  Missouri law also does not allow open enrollment in virtual schools.  At a time when students in rural schools and students in failing students could greatly benefit from a virtual learning option, the study urged Missouri to look closely at policy revisions.

Toward this goal, the Missouri House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee held a hearing on two bills aimed at modifying Missouri’s virtual school statutes.

Rep. Kathy Swan, a Republican from Cape Girardeau, sponsored House bill 1780. Her bill would allow Missouri high school students who want to begin postsecondary coursework to access virtual learning programs.

The committee also heard testimony on House Bill 1895 by Rep. Vicki Englund, a Democrat from St. Louis. Rep. England’s bill would increase the amount of state funding given to local school districts that offer virtual learning programs. Currently, the state reimburses virtual programs at a rate of 94 percent of what the state would pay for traditional coursework. Rep. Englund is seeking to raise that to 95 percent.

The committee has not voted on either bill.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports efforts to enhance virtual learning options in our state. For the future of our economy, it is critical that Missouri students receive a world-class education and emerge prepared to compete in a global economy.

For more information about education legislation, contact Jay Atkins, atjatkins@mochamber.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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