JEFFERSON CITY - One Missouri senator's filibuster of a bill to expand charter schools brought up an dilemma central to the education issues facing Missouri's legislature — the difference between city schools and everyone else.
The difference between metropolitan, suburban and rural districts has been central to education policy issues such as regulation of charter schools, school funding and allowing students to transfer from unaccredited districts.
Democratic Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal represents a St. Louis County district that stretches from University City to Hazelwood. She spoke against the bill in question saying that, while several St. Louis city senators were in favor of the legislation, it would negatively impact her district.
"St. Louis city school district is nothing like the University City school district," Chapelle-Nadal said. She said her constituents would be against using their tax money to fund charter schools.
During an exchange with a fellow Democrat, Sen. Joseph Keaveny of St. Louis City, she spoke about how the population shifts out of the city have impacted the county districts. Keaveny was in favor of expanding charter schools, saying that it's important to keep people in the city by offering more options.
"We lost a significant number of young families because of the quality of education," Keaveny said. "Charter schools have kept people in the city."
Chapelle-Nadal also said that moving a bill to expand charter schools before resolving the other education issues facing the state could result in unintended consequences.
"By moving this bill and not balancing any of the other educational bills, we're not looking at where we're headed," she said.
Despite Chapelle-Nadal's claims that the bill would be harmful to her district, it passed first round approval in the Senate. The issues brought up during the debate, however, are far from over. They will continue to be part of the discussion surrounding the other education policy changes.