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Our Opinion: Wise veto of student transfer law

News Tribune editorial June 27, 2015 at 12:30 p.m. | Updated June 27, 2015 at 12:30 p.m.

We applaud Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of the "school transfer law."

In his veto message, the governor honed in on the proposal's deficiencies when he said the bill "fails to solve the problems of unaccredited schools in the St. Louis region, and it creates new problems and mandates for districts around our state that are already doing well."

The proposal, HB42, was designed to improve on an existing school transfer law that establishes a process for students in unaccredited public school districts to transfer to schools in adjacent, accredited districts, with the costs paid by the unaccredited district.

But the intent was distorted during the legislative process, and the bill that resulted was flawed.

We noted our concerns in this forum on June 13, and Nixon amplified on them in his veto message.

"In its original form," the governor said, the bill "focused on trying to solve the well-known problems of the current transfer law, and address serious flaws in last year's attempt at a legislative solution. However, as the legislative process unfolded, this bill veered off track. By the time it got to my desk, it mandated expensive voucher schemes, neglected accountability, and skirted the major, underlying difficulties in the transfer law, while creating a host of potential new problems for districts across the state."

Much opposition to the bill came from public school advocates, who, admittedly, have a vested interest in not diverting money to charter or virtual alternatives.

But public educators also supported Nixon's recent effort to forge a coordination plan among St. Louis-area school districts to address unaccredited schools.

Mike Wood of the Missouri State Teachers Association said the governor's "decision to reject the one-size-fits-all approach of HB42 and the historic coordination plan with the districts in St. Louis that are impacted by the transfer issue helped produce a solution that will meet local needs without burdening schools across our state."

And Mike Lodewegen of the Missouri Association of School Administrators added: "Of course, credit goes to Gov. Nixon for vetoing HB42; however, the governor's effort to rally the St. Louis region around schools in North St. Louis County is even more impactful."

Providing a free, public education to Missouri students is not only a worthwhile endeavor, it is mandated by the state constitution.

Efforts to restore accreditation to flagging districts and educate students during the process also are necessary.

The proposed student transfer bill missed the mark on too many levels, while inviting new problems.

Nixon used his veto stamp wisely on this measure.

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