Chalkboard in classroom
Susan Pendergrass

Last fall, the MNEA submitted applications for six ballot initiatives to the Missouri Secretary of State. If a ballot initiative is approved, the secretary of state crafts language that summarizes the applicant’s proposal and estimates the cost to taxpayers. Then the applicants have to circulate petitions and gather enough signatures to have the language included on every voter’s ballot. So far, the status of signature collection on the MNEA’s initiatives is . . . TBD? There’s no evidence the MNEA is collecting the signatures, but it hasn't officially said that it's not going to.

The MNEA’s ballot initiatives are about protecting the status quo monopoly on public education in Missouri. If passed, the initiatives would dramatically increase the potential budget for K–12  education in the state and remove the education budget from the constitutional protection given to taxpayers—that taxes cannot be raised without a statewide vote of approval.

During the required public comment period for the initiatives, analysts at the Show-Me Institute and concerned groups in the state submitted evidence of the potential disaster that could result from any one of these initiatives being passed. If the petitions passed into law, the annual cost could easily be in the billions and the state would have no choice but to either take money from other programs or raise taxes. Fortunately, the secretary of state drafted ballot language that includes these estimated costs and implications.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that spending more on education while allowing the public education establishment to keep its stranglehold on the delivery of that education will improve outcomes. We’ve been doing that for at least twenty years and our education metrics are only declining in relation to other states. We can be smarter and more innovative in the design and delivery of K–12  education in this state. We just need to be open to ideas that come from sources other than the protectors of the ineffective status quo. Hopefully, the MNEA agrees and will drop its effort.


About the Author

Susan Pendergrass
Director of Research and Education Policy

Susan Pendergrass was Vice President of Research and Evaluation for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools before joining the Show-Me Institute. Prior to coming to the National Alliance, Susan was a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Education during the Bush administration and a senior research scientist at the National Center for Education Statistics during the Obama administration. She earned a Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Mason University.