State Policy Network
Missouri Expands School Choice Program

Earlier this month, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed legislation that expands the state’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program. The ESA expansion is part of a larger education reform package, SB 727, which also increases teacher salaries and makes it easier for charter schools to open in Boone County.

The new law allows more children to access Missouri’s ESA program, also called the MOScholars scholarship program. The bill lifts restrictions based on location and raises the income threshold—which means middle class families can now access the ESA program (before this law passed, only children from low-income families qualified). In addition, the amount of money each student can access through the ESA has been increased, giving these students more resources to pay for education-related items.

ESAs: A Way to Give Families More Education Freedom and Choice

In America, the school district you live in determines which public school you are zoned to attend. While many public schools excel at preparing their students for college, a career, and life, there are some that are failing to give children the tools they need to succeed.

Students that attend these low-performing schools often do not have access to other education options, such as private school or homeschool. Education Savings Accounts are one way to address this problem. With an ESA in hand, a student now has the resources to access alternative learning environments that best fit their unique needs.

By expanding the ESA program in SB 727, Missouri lawmakers gave more education choice to parents and their children.

The Show-Me Institute Helps Advance Education Freedom in Missouri

The Show-Me Institute, a nonprofit policy organization in St. Louis, helped advance this legislation over the past few months—but this education reform package has been years in the making. Giving parents and students more education opportunity has long been a priority for the organization—which works to improve the lives of Missouri families through sound public policy.

Through research, media placements, and outreach to lawmakers and members of the community, the Institute has been outlining the benefits of school choice—both for individual families and the state overall. Those efforts culminated in the passage of SB 727 and the expansion of the state’s ESA program in May 2024.

Next Steps for Education Reform in Missouri

Susan Pedergrass, the Director of Education Policy at the Show-Me Institute, notes this legislation is a significant step forward for the state but hopes Missouri reforms the way it funds its ESA program—so all children in the state can benefit. In Missouri, even with this new law, only children who meet certain income requirements can access the program. But 10 other states have “universal” ESAs, where all children are eligible.

Pedergrass added: “I think it would be best if the Missouri Legislature committed to funding the program like these other 10 states have done.” In Missouri’s next legislative session, the Show-Me Institute will work to encourage lawmakers to expand the MOScholars program so all students in the state, regardless of where they live or how much money their family makes, can access it.

Related Reading:

A Win for Education in Missouri
Show-Me Institute

Missouri Sparks a Brighter Future for Students, Parents, and Teachers
Show-Me Institute

SB 727 Reaction with Susan Pendergrass and James Shuls
Show-Me Institute

Everything You Need to Know About Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)
State Policy Network

Organization: State Policy Network