The Missouri Children’s Education Initiative (CEI) is a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution that will provide financial assistance to elementary and secondary school students throughout the state of Missouri. This proposal has the potential to generate significant assistance for private school children, for public schools, and for students with special needs.
The money raised for public schools will be in addition to money already received through the normal tax-based funding process. And in many financially strapped public school districts, new programs can be initiated and financially threatened programs can remain in place.
Taxpayers will receive a 50% tax credit for the dollar amount of their donation to a nonprofit foundation that assists schools and school children. In addition to claiming the tax credit, taxpayers will continue to be eligible for the tax deduction granted under the federal income tax for charitable donations.
The funding of our elementary and secondary schools is very uneven and educational opportunities for our children are not the same for all. Families with financial means can choose to live in neighborhoods with good public schools or can afford to send their children to private or parochial schools. What about families of modest means or poor families? Their children are often stuck in poorly performing public schools without the same options that our wealthier citizens have. Is that fair? Equal opportunity of education should be a basic human right. The Children’s Education Initiative is an attempt to provide more educational opportunities for more children.
I was blessed to attend Catholic elementary and secondary schools at great sacrifice from my parents. If I were a school-age child today, I question whether my parents could afford Catholic school tuition. My four children went to Catholic elementary and high school and the education they received and the moral and religious values instilled in them have paved the way for their being successful young men and women today. And at significant savings to tax payers!
With costs and tuitions rising, I want all children to have the same opportunities and choices that my children have had. The Children’s Education Initiative will be a bold attempt to level the educational playing field and provide educational opportunities for all Missouri families.
John Schwob is the Director of Pastoral Planning for the Archdiocese of St. Louis and a member of the Public Policy Committee of the Missouri Catholic Conference. He has previously served on the St. Louis Archdiocesan Board of Catholic Education. He is married to Melanie and they have four grown children. He is a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Valley Park, a suburb of St. Louis.
Posted: November 8, 2013