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Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) speaks to CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood (middle) at the Columbia Farmers Market on August 25, 2022, as Boone County commissioner Justin Aldred listens (file photo courtesy of the governor's Flickr page)

(LISTEN): Missouri’s governor praises Boone County charter school bill, saying “competition is good”

CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood (file photo courtesy of CPS website)

Missouri’s governor is praising legislation that he’s signed that allows charter schools to operate in Columbia Public Schools (CPS) and all Boone County school districts.

CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood has blasted the bill, saying it will cause CPS to have to reduce teachers and staff. GOP Governor Mike Parson sees it differently, telling reporters at a recent Columbia event that competition is good:

“I’ve said all along since I’ve been governor, I don’t care how a kid gets an education as long as they get an education. I don’t care whether it’s Christian, whether it’s charter, whether it’s private, whether it’s public. You know what, competition is good,” Governor Parson says.

Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) briefs Capitol reporters in Jefferson City on January 26, 2023 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

The bill’s charter school provision was championed by powerful Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia), who says the bill offers $450-million in new dollars for public education. Dr. Yearwood has told 939 the Eagle that charter schools will lead to the demise of public schools. Senator Rowden has called Superintendent Yearwood’s comments ridiculous.

During his press briefing with reporters in Columbia, Governor Parson also pushed back against criticism from some  education groups about the charter school provision:

“If people can perform and gives our kids (an) education, I don’t care but what I do care about is some small child to be able to have an opportunity and an education. And don’t care how you get there, but I want them to have that opportunity. And like I said, look, I’m not saying that we’re all in a competitive world, but if somebody is doing better than somebody else, you need to be figuring out why are they doing it better than you and figure out how to make changes. We do that everyday in the business world,” says Governor Parson.

CPS Superintendent Dr. Yearwood has told 939 the Eagle that CPS could take a $25-million hit from the bill.  Dr. Yearwood also says charter schools have caused cuts in public schools in North Kansas City and in the St. Louis area.

While the bill was a priority for Senator Rowden and GOP House Speaker Dean Plocher (R-Des Peres), three House Democrats provided critical votes for the bill: State Reps. Steve Butz and Marlene Terry (D-St. Louis) and State Rep. Chantelle Nickson-Clark (D-Florissant).

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