Kenny Hulshof is offering a plan to address the challenges plaguing school districts in Kansas City and St. Louis. Both districts have struggled to provide students with the quality of education they deserve. Hulshof's plan provides flexibility, accountability and increased opportunity for all students.
The numbers provide a dramatic illustration of just how bad it has gotten in Missouri's urban school districts. In American College Test (ACT) scores, the percentage of students scoring at or above the national average is 10.9 percent for Kansas City school district students, compared to 34.4 percent statewide. The drop-out rate for grades nine through twelve is 21.1 percent in KC, but only 4.2 percent for the state.
Last year in the St. Louis Public School District, 19 percent of 8th graders scored proficient' or advanced' on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test. Only 13 percent had similar scores in math. While there have been improvements in recent months, much more work remains to be done.
"The quality of education received by a student should not be dependent upon that child's zip code," Hulshof said. "The problems facing our urban school districts have been going on for too long. This has resulted in generations of students being cheated out of their chance to achieve their goals and dreams."
Hulshof's urban school plan includes the following:
* Choice and flexibility within the public school system
* SchoolStat Pilot Project
* Tax credits for Opportunity Scholarships
* Tax credits for merit pay funds
"Challenges of this magnitude require courage and the willingness to stand up to special interests," Hulshof said. "I am ready to take on these problems and stand up for our children. They deserve nothing less."
Urban School Reforms
Kenny Hulshof is committed to ensuring that every student in Missouri has access to a good education and is able to find a quality career right here in our state. It is what he calls the Missouri Dream. In order to help students in St. Louis and Kansas City, Hulshof is proposing a package of reforms that offers flexibility and accountability that will result in greater opportunity.
* Charter Schools: The public school districts in Kansas City and St. Louis have been failing their students. Aggressive steps are needed to fix these problems, many of which have been plaguing Missouri's urban school districts for decades. The status quo simply isn't working. Kenny Hulshof will support efforts to give parents and students choice within the public school system. This means encouraging the formation of charter schools.
* Opportunity Scholarships: Missouri can provide more educational options to parents. Kenny Hulshof will create a tax credit for donations to Children's Opportunity Scholarships, which can be used for tuition or tutoring. This will provide an additional opportunity for parents in thriving districts to help struggling districts in St. Louis and Kansas City.
* Flexibility: Teachers and principals must be given the flexibility to design programs that will be effective for their students. This approach will result in new ideas proving themselves in classrooms across the district.
* SchoolStat: SchoolStat is an innovative school improvement model that measures student performance, attendance, behavior, and extracurricular involvement. Principals and teachers establish goals and are measured on their achievement of those goals. SchoolStat provides instant feedback and includes strategies for improvement. This program is credited for improving student behavior and teacher participation in Philadelphia. Principals have given the program high marks in anonymous surveys. http://www.businessofgovernment.org/pdfs/PatuskyReport.pdf
Incentives for Excellence
* Teacher Excellence Funds: Kenny Hulshof believes that the best teachers should be rewarded and the criteria for rewards must be based upon objective measures. As governor, he will help establish bonuses for Missouri's best teachers. To encourage community and citizen involvement, he will create a state tax credit for donations to Teacher Excellence Funds.