The Missouri Supreme Court this week upheld a state law that requires unaccredited public school districts to pay for students who want to attend better public schools in neighboring districts.
Currently, there are three unaccredited districts: Kansas City, and the St. Louis area districts of Riverview Gardens and Normandy. Families in unaccredited districts have been trying for several years to transfer their children to better schools.
The ruling by the court left some room for interpretation concerning just how districts are to comply with the state law. Both urban and suburban school officials are now reviewing the 37 page opinion to determine their next steps.
Although the court’s ruling does not authorize payments for students to attend private or religious schools, it may set the stage for state legislators to consider more robust school choice options. The MCC continues to advocate for parental choices in education in Missouri laws.
Church Teaching On Educating Children
Catholic teaching very clearly upholds the right of parents to direct their children’s education. This teaching also says that public authorities have the responsibility to ensure that school choice options are feasible for parents to take advantage of. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following:
“As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators. Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise.” (par. # 2229)