Issue Background


MSBA opposes vouchers in any form because:

  • Schools receiving the funds are not held accountable for delivering an education. 
  • Teachers are not required to be certified or even have a college degree.
  • Schools accepting these scholarships are not required to enroll all students.
  • Schools receiving the funds are not held financially accountable for taxpayer dollars.
  • Tax breaks already exist for donations to scholarship funds.

MSBA Advocacy Position II. K.

What is an ESA and how does it impact public school students?

ESA bills 2021 - single page print out, updated 1/21/21

Is Senate Bill 55 Really That Bad for Public Education? Yes.

MSBA's Opposing Vouchers Toolkit

Student Protection - Board Resolution

National Coalition for Public Education: Opposing Private School Vouchers - document


Six Big Problems With Education Savings Accounts Forbes Feb 2021

What is a voucher?  A voucher is a certificate of government funding that can be used by parents to pay tuition for students to attend school at a private, parochial or home school that are not held to the same accountability standards as public schools.

What is an ESA?: An Education Scholarship Account (ESA) is a legislative scheme where donors to a scholarship fund receive a 100% state tax credit (a direct deduction from state taxes owed). Scholarships are then provided to students to leave public school districts and attend private, parochial and home schools that are not held to the same accountability standards.  ESA’s are a way of hiding a voucher program.

Why it matters to your students and community: Students who receive vouchers or ESAs are not monitored, and there is no proof that vouchers or ESAs result in a better education or any education at all. States that have adopted  these education schemes have spent hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money for unknown educational outcomes.  Meanwhile, students in public schools struggle with underpaid teachers, underfunded classrooms and transportation services.

Legislation to Watch:

SB 55 (O'Laughlin) includes SB 23 and 25 - Creates up to $100 million in tax credits (a reduction in state taxes owed) for persons who donate towards scholarships for some (but not all) students with disabilities, foster care students and students who have been bullied to attend a public or private school or virtual school. SB 55 has many other provisions. See them all here.

House Bill 349 (Chistofanelli) is provides scholarships to students living in Clay, Jackson, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties or in a city with a population of 30,000 or more.  Preference is given to
  • students receiving special education services
  • students living in households earning less than twice the eligibility for free and reduced lunch ($96,940 for a family of four).

Tax credits are capped at $50 million in state funds for the first year, and may be used for religious, private, home, for-profit virtual schools and other educational expenses with little oversight. New scholarships can only be given in years where the legislature appropriates for public schools at least 40% for transportation funding as calculated for the 2021 year. 

HB 729 (O'Donnell) - Creates up to $50 million in tax credits for donations to scholarships for students who have attended a public school for at least a semester, is beginning schooling or whose parent is in active duty military service. The tax credit may be use for private, public, virtual and home schooling.

SB 30 (Cierpot)/HB 540 (Fitzwater) - Create up to $25 million in tax credits for scholarships to students in households earning less than twice the eligibility threshold to qualify for free and reduced lunch (Example: $96,940 or less for a family of four), with preference for students in low-performing schools and students whose parents are in active duty military service.

Senate Bill 251 (Onder) - Creates an unlimited tax credit for donations to scholarships for any student to attend a private, public or home school.  Scholarships may be used for a broad range of expenses, including tuition, computer equipment, test fees, summer programs, tutoring, extracurricular activities and “education therapies.”

SB 296 (Brattin) - Provides state funds to students to attend a private school if the student is in a household that earns less than twice the eligibility for free and reduced lunch ($96,940 or less for a family of four).  The funds would equal the amount the resident school district would have received if the student had been enrolled and can be used for a wide variety of activities including tuition, books, tutoring, online courses, fees for examinations, funding for college, educational services for students with disabilities, and fees to financial managers of the fund.  The resident school district is obligated to transport the student to the private school selected.

SB 30 (Cierpiot), SB 152 (Hoskins), HB 478 (Christofanelli), HB 540 (Fitzwater), and HB 627 (Patterson):  Expand Missouri’s 529 MOST plan, intended to encourage parents to save for college, to allow for tax-free investment for tuition to K-12 private schools.  MSBA is opposed to any scheme to divert tax revenue to K-12 schools that are not required to enroll all students and are not held accountable to taxpayers like public schools.

House Bill 442 (Basye) - Provides a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for parents that have incurred education expenditures due to enrollment in a K-12 public or private virtual school program.