House Education Committee hears virtual schools legislation

On March 2 the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 704, which would allow public school students to enroll in another school district or charter school for the purposes of attending virtual schools or programs. The bill is sponsored by Rep. TJ Berry, R-Clay County.

Under the bill, children who have attended an unaccredited school in an unaccredited district for one semester can transfer to an accredited school in that same district. A virtual education option also would be available.

“Expanding virtual schools offers Missouri students the option to learn in a non-traditional environment, at their own pace, and from instructors they wouldn’t be able to access from the classroom,” Brian Bunten, assistant general counsel for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, testified. “Missouri 2030 revealed workforce development to be the #1 business concern for the next fifteen years and today’s students need to be equipped with all tools necessary to meet the workforce demand of the future.”

In 2014 the Missouri Chamber contracted with the Gallup organization to survey business leaders on their needs. Only 15 percent of business owners agree that high schools are preparing students for the workforce. The Gallup survey was part of a 12-month effort by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry to produce a 15-year strategic plan for Missouri, called Missouri 2030: An Agenda to Lead. The goal of the plan is to empower Missouri employers with a long-term vision to make Missouri a global economic leader. To learn more about the plan, go to mo2030.com.

To make virtual schools a viable option, the measure would allow any student in a district in the same or adjoining county as a district operating an unaccredited school to enroll in virtual education.

For more information about virtual schools or education legislation, please contact Brian Bunten at bbunten@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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About mochamber

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry understands that the quality of life in our state depends on quality jobs for Missourians. To that end, we have one simple mission: to protect and advance Missouri business.

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