JEFFERSON CITY, MO (July 28, 2020) — With roughly a month left until school starts, at least 1,000 Missouri families have no idea where their child will attend school in the fall thanks to efforts by their local school districts to block school choice.
This number may be a conservative estimate as the Missouri Virtual Academy (MOVA) alone has received over 1,000 applications to enroll in their school, and nearly 800 of these applications have either been denied or are stuck in administrative purgatory, according to the school. MOVA is just one of several online schools authorized in the state that’s facing this issue.
“The egregious efforts being made by Missouri school districts to block parents from choosing the best schooling option for their child during a pandemic are sickening,” said Jordan McGrain, executive director of the National Coalition for Public School Options. “Many families are concerned about the safety of resuming in-person education, and do not find comfort in the reopening plans being released by local school districts. Missouri lawmakers established the MOCAP program to give parents options, and these actions are in direct violation of that law.”
The news regarding MOVA’s application waitlist comes as we learn Governor Mike Parson’s anticipates children will contract COVID-19 in Missouri schools. This has many parents concerned, as a recent survey released late last week by PSO revealed 57% of parents said they remained very concerned about risks due to COVID-19, and 75% of respondents anticipate additional school closures in the fall.
These concerns are being translated into significant support for online public schools, with 43% of respondents noting they’d be willing to consider this educational option for their own child. Based on 2019 enrollment data, that would mean more than 390,000 students may not return to their traditional classroom as parents become more familiar with online learning options.
As support grows for online learning, many school districts in Missouri have been denying families the right to choose the best educational option for their child, including by abusing the veto authority over enrollment provided under the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program (MOCAP).
The survey also revealed that:
- 79% of parents oppose giving school districts “veto power” over a parent’s decision to enroll their child in a full-time online school: and
- 75% of parents support the state of Missouri granting emergency waivers for parents who wish to enroll their student in an online public school this fall.