Show Me Institute presents new plan for struggling KCMO district

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Leaders from the Show Me Institute will present a new plan for kids in the Kansas City Public Schools on Tuesday. The group claims it can save taxpayers millions and improve education initiatives in Kansas City through a private school choice alternative.

Under the Show Me Institute's plan, the school district would offer scholarships to its students to attend private schools. The private schools, according to the institute, would gladly fill those seats for cheap because right now, they have too many open spots.

The Show Me Institute surveyed more than 50 private schools in Kansas City and St. Louis. They asked those schools if they'd be willing to accept public school students. What they found was many of them said yes, in exchange for about $3,000 dollars a year.

James Shuls, policy analyst for the Show Me Institute, said his plan has a chance as the two largest cities in Missouri deal with accreditation battles.

"I think the chances are getting better and better. When people look at what's going on in St. Louis and the unaccredited school districts and they worry about what will happen here in KC and students leaving, a compromise is likely where we could see a small private school choice program and an end to school transfer," Shuls explained.

There likely aren't enough seats for every public school student in the district, so Shuls said the students would have to apply for the program or win their spot in a lottery-based system.

Shuls research also found students in public schools test 30 percent better or more on standardized tests.  As for district leaders in Kansas City, they haven't warmed up to the idea of private school choice, Shuls said.

However, this plan could have a chance if voters pushed it to a ballot or the Missouri legislature took up the issue.

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