A lot of educators in Jackson County want Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to veto a bill that would enable charter schools to locate in most of Jackson County.
Nixon himself seemed less than enthusiastic about the bill when asked about it during a stop in Kansas City on Tuesday.
“It’s a bill that got off its original path,” he said.
No kidding. The stated purpose was to finally fix the Missouri statute that creates a chaotic transfer policy for students who attend unaccredited school districts. But members of the Senate insisted on adding language that allows charter schools to set up in all of Jackson County except within the borders of three very small districts.
Most school superintendents are objecting loudly, warning of disruptions and increased mobility in classrooms if charter schools siphon off their students.
Nixon said he doesn’t think the bill adequately addresses the “most significant issue” of the transfer situation, which is the ability of districts that receive students from unaccredited schools to set the tuition rate for those students. That policy has caused two unaccredited districts in the St. Louis area to go broke.
The bill on Nixon’s desk gives receiving districts incentives to make tuition reasonable, but it doesn’t set a cap.
“Any time a bill begins to do one thing and ends up doing other things, it deserves a look,” Nixon said.
So stayed tuned. The bill did not pass the House with enough votes to override a veto, if Nixon would go that route.
As Nixon spoke to reporters in mid afternoon, the Senate was well into debate on a “right-to-work” bill that would allow workers who didn’t want to join a union to opt out of paying fees for representation.
The Democratic governor left little doubt about how he would handle that bill if it got to his desk.
“I don’t support right-to-work and I don’t support taking power away from folks for collective bargaining,” he said.
Nixon added that he hadn’t seen a demand among regular Missourians for a right-to-work law. “I’ve sat across the table from a lot of folks and it hasn’t been an issue.”
Senate Democrats have pledged to filibuster the right-to-work bill for as long as necessary. That will tie up the Senate for much of the final week of the session, which concludes at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Nixon didn’t seem to mind the Republican-led Senate’s lack of productivity. Asked about the Senate’s time management, he said, “I think they’re having an appropriately thorough discussion that should end around 6 p.m. on Friday.”
To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bshelly.