by Senator Cindy O’Laughlin

The Missouri NEA has submitted six initiative petitions to the Secretary of State that could significantly change the landscape for K-12 schools in our state for decades.

While each proposal has small differences, there are major changes to our state’s Constitution that would become law if this teacher’s union is successful in getting the language on the ballot and passed by Missouri voters. Coupled with Medicaid Expansion, progressives in Missouri are making every effort they can to change our state’s laws at the ballot box.

First, NEA’s effort states that the General Assembly must “adequately and equitably fund free and public schools.” This sets the table for a lawsuit similar to what happened in Kansas where the state’s Supreme Court, not the legislature, determined how much the state should spend on students. The state Supreme Court could make a decision that doesn’t take into account all the other obligations the state has. This is no way to budget.

The proposal makes it clear that someone can sue the state if they feel their local school is not adequately funded. If passed, the Constitution will include provisions saying the state will pay for the plaintiff’s attorney cost. This seems like a big win for Missouri’s trial lawyers.

Second, the initiative petition guarantees that at least 25% of the state’s funds be spent on education. This sets a Constitutional mandate that public education receive a certain level funding, regardless of other budget priorities like paying down debt, or building roads. Make no mistake, this will end up raising taxes on Missouri’s families and businesses.

Third, several of the proposals state that Missouri’s K-12 schools can set up daycare education at the cost of Missouri’s taxpayers. This puts our public schools in direct competition with the stay-at-home moms, daycare businesses, and churches that are currently providing daycare.

Finally, the teacher union has included language in every proposal that states that no state funding can ever go to alternative forms of education. Alternative schools exist in Kansas City and St. Louis as a refuge for families who are in failing school districts. Missouri NEA has been successful in electing politicians who do not allow alternatives outside of the urban areas. How does this serve those students who have for years been locked into a failing district?  It is our job to provide a quality education to students who need to escape urban poverty and escalating crime. Educations and skills are the only viable answers for these young people.

I don’t believe the NEA represents Missouri values. Here’s an excerpt from the Capital Research Center regarding NEA: “The NEA is a major political player, with its associated political action committees contributing nearly $143.5 million to federal candidates and committees – 97% of which supported Democrats and liberals – from 1990 through February 2019. Donations were sent to the Center for American Progress and other extremist organizations.” This is a very liberal group trying to get people to vote for something in the name of “benefiting children.” Don’t be fooled by this initiative petition. This group does not represent the common sense and traditional values of our Missouri families.  

Alternative options for families, especially those in struggling school districts, are despised by teacher unions like the NEA. They will do whatever they can to ensure that competition does not exist for traditional public schools. In the concrete business, we face competition every day. If and when we fail, our business faces possible closure. When public schools fail, they just ask for more money, and the Missouri NEA would like to keep it this way.

Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-7985. You may also email me at cindy.olaughlin@senate.mo.gov.