Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Nolte (33rd) Supports School Vouchers and Open Enrollment

What better way to destroy the great public schools up North of the River than HB 808, which allows for school vouchers. Rep. Nolte - the Republican state representative from North of the River in Clay County - supports both vouchers and open enrollment.

Jerry Nolte won by on the closest of margins to pick up this seat. He beat Terry Stone by 50.5% to 49.5%. That was a difference of only 147 votes. This seat was held by Scott Lakin (D) and Phil Willoughby (D).

Imagine if the good schools in Clay and Platte Counties had students sucked out of them by a voucher program? That would mean some upper middle class folks could afford private educations. Poor folks could never benefit from vouchers because there is a gap between vouchers and the cost of private education. Instead of improving education options, you would get public schools with less money. In an odd twist on things, Nolte also supports open enrollment. That means any student could show up at a school, regardless of where the student lives or where his parents pay property taxes, and sign up for a school. How does that make since? I thought Republicans were all about local control. These kind of crazy ideas only allow for less control by local school boards.

I would much rather have the local school boards deciding what is best for students that the current crop of Republicans in Jefferson City. If people want to send their kids to private, religious schools - good for them. I do not, however, think that the Missouri or US Constitutions will permit forcing citizens of Missouri to pay for religious schools for some people. Don't get me wrong, I think faith based education is a good thing. It is up to the parents to decide if that is what is best for the kids. Missouri taxpayers shouldn't foot the bill.

If we only knew 74 folks in the 33rd District, we would have a smart small business owner like Terry Stone in that seat!!


Anonymous said...

Why make up lies? HB 808 was not a voucher program. HB 808 would not have applied to students outside of the St. Louis and Kansas City school districts. HB 808 would not have helped upper middle class folks. Google "HB 808" and see for yourself if Mr. Bough is being truthful in his description of HB 808.

Stephen Bough said...

If you can't sign your name, you have no credibility.

Here's the link to HB 808

HB 808 would allow tax credits (which is much more favorable than tax deductions) - even for corporations - to pay for students to go to private schools. Republicans are great word smiths, no doubt about this. HB 808 sets up a tax exempt government group to give monies to "eligible students to cover all or part of the applicable tuition and fees at a qualified school, or other approved educational expenses, including supplemental services such as private tutors, textbooks, and transportation to a public or nonpublic school outside of the eligible student's resident school district."

Webster's Dictionary defines a voucher as "a coupon issued by government to a parent or guardian to be used to fund a child's education in either a public or private school." Sounds like HB 808 is a voucher to me.

The words St. Louis and Kansas City NEVER appear in HB 808. An earlier version of this bill, cleverly named the Betty L. Thompson Scholarship Program, discusses that this is really just a voucher program.

Don't take my word, mostly because someone who is "anonymous" lacks the fortitude to sign thier name thinks I am a liar, but you can believe the school teachers. The Missouri NEA opposed HB 808. "Missouri NEA strongly opposes any measure to transfer state funds to private, religious or home schools that are not accountable to the standards placed upon public schools."

HB 808 was pushed by a pro-voucher group called "All Children Matter." These are the fine folks from AmWay. They push voucher bills across America. All Children Matter gave almost $200,000 to Matt Blunt.

The Clayton School District calls HB 808 a voucher program.

The Friedman Foundation, which supports school vouchers, calls HB 808 a voucher program.;jsessionid=694AEE506131DE02F0D5967D859FD226?id=120009

HB 808 is named for Betty Thompson, a state representative and Democrat from St. Louis who is best known for supporting school vouchers. This is classic Republican word smithing to name HB 808 after a Democrat who supported vouchers.

In 2004 Rep. Thompson and Rep. Jetton (the current Republican speaker) sponsored HB 1702 - which established a voucher program.

Dear Anonymous - Until you grow up enough to sign your name, don't call me a liar.

signed - Stephen R. Bough

Brian T. Johnson said...

As a factual matter, the first comment posted by "Anonymous" is correct - HB808 was not a voucher program and it wouldn't have applied to students outside the KCMO and STLMO districts.

Mr. Bough is correct in saying the bill text doesn't mention Kansas City or Saint Louis - by name. The text actually uses legalese to designate KCMO and STLMO districts without actually writing "Kansas City" and "Saint Louis."

To quote, the bill applies to any student who "resides in any city not within a county or any urban school district containing the greater part of the population of a home rule city with more than four hundred thousand inhabitants and located in more than one county while receiving an educational scholarship under this program." Lawmakers spell it out like that for technical and legal reasons.

HB808 was a tution tax credit scholarship program, which is, by definition, different than a voucher program. A voucher is a direct grant from the government to a family. HB808 did not set up a "government group," as Mr. Bough incorrectly claims, but rather allows independent, non-profit organizations to administer educational scholarships. These non-profits would have received donations to fund the scholarships for eligible students. You can argue that the difference is minimal or that the effect would have been the same, but a fact is a fact.

HB808 was was means-tested to target low-income families, so again as a factual matter, it wasn't going to go to upper-middle class families, as Mr. Bough claims. It was designed to help poor kids get into great schools.

This isn't a partisan issue. Democrats and progressives should support the empowerment of low income urban citizens to choose the best education for their child. Rep. Jerry Nolte is one of the best listeners I've known, which tells me he's probably very much in line with his district on this issue, regardless of what Mr. Bough would like to believe.

Anonymous said...

Does credibility come from using your own name, or from having your facts right?

Brian T. Johnson said...

Apparently Mr. Bough does not wish to reply to the facts that have been presented. Maybe he's reading the bill for the first time at this very moment, and learning the truth.

Stephen Bough said...

Why is it that the Missouri NEA says it is a voucher program?

Why is it that All Children Matter says it is a voucher program?

Why is it that schools outside of St. Louis and KC, schools like Clayton, call it a voucher program?

Why is it that pro-voucher groups like the Friedman Foundation call it a voucher program?

Heck, call it a pro-voucher victory. Chalk it up to the Republicans having control and being able to pass whatever they want. Why are you running from a victory Republican victory? Next is open enrollment. Nolte can show his true colors.

Mr. Johnson - thanks for signing your name. It says something about your moral fiber. We may disagree, but I respect your opinion and your willingness to engaged in a civilized debate.

Anonymous said...


Why are you so down on anonymous commenters? I was correct - even if you insist that HB 808 is a voucher program (though it is not), you can't deny I was absolutely correct that HB 808 would not have applied to students outside of St. Louis and KC, and I was absolutely correct that it would not have helped upper middle class folks. Does the fact that I did not sign my name have anything at all to do with the truthfulness of what I wrote?

Despite my sticking to the facts, you claim I have no credibility, claim I lack "fortitutude", say I need to grow up, imply I lack "moral fiber", and imply I didn't engage in "civilized debate". All I did was expose the truth about HB 808!

There are good reasons to comment anonymously. Not everyone is self-employed or independently wealthy - a lot of us have employers who may disagree with us. What point does signing your name have, other than to allow the dispute to get personal? This is not a case where I anonymously called you names - I anonymously pointed out facts that showed you were wrong about HB 808. And my credibility did not depend on my name - it depended on the fact that I was correct.

By the way, I should point out that HB 808 was not a "victory Republican victory". It did not pass.

Ouch - another case where an anonymous commenter demonstrates more credibility than Mr. Bough!

Rep. Paul LeVota said...

Make no doubt about it. HB 808 was a voucher bill. That is why it was defeated so overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives. It was opposed by many Republicans, including Jackson County Reps, Dusenberg, Grismore, Kraus, and Yates.

Bough's point is true. Jerry Nolte co-sponsored this bill and open enrollment. Many in the NKC school district oppose these methods that weaken public schools.

If you support vouchers, just say so. Make an intellectual agruement for your position. Please say more then, "HB 808 was not a voucher program."

Stephen Bough said...

Dear Anonymous - HB 808 also applies to Wentzville, not just KC & St. Louis. You are wrong. You say you did not call me names, yet you called me a liar.

The strength of your convictions are diminished by your unwillingness to stand behind your name.

The original post also addressed open enrollment. "Scholarships may also be used at public schools outside the eligible school districts and they will have the right of first acceptance of scholarship students. If the scholarship student attends another public school, the accepting school must take the educational scholarship funds instead of state funds owed to the accepting district." Source: Bill Summary. This open enrollment provision is a great source of concern for the North Kansas City School District because they have to start taking in students from other districts. Overcrowding of older schools does not equal high quality eduction - which is what Nolte's voters want.

As to who would benefit from such a program, I would suggest that you call the private schools in the northland. They are very expensive. The only people who would benefit from a voucher program (which, I remind you, is what the Friedman Foundation calls it) are middle class folks who can pay the difference between private tution and vouchers.

When you call someone a liar, as you have done, that is personal. It is my hope for this blog that you and others continue to strive to prove me wrong in a way that respects that we are all Americans. I thanked Mr. Johnson for doing that. You are not contributing to that level of discussion.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I reply respectfully and proudly anonymously. If I were a wealthy, self-employed lawyer, perhaps I would agree with you that the debate should only be open to those who are wealthy or self-employed. I'm not, so I don't. Why is it so important to you to know my name?

I'm correct that it is not a voucher program (when did you start believing everything the Friedman Foundation says?), but that is beside the point.

You're simply wrong about Wentzville - go read the language of the bill. To be an eligible student, you must reside in "any city not within a county or any urban school district containing the greater part of the population of a home rule city with more than four hundred thousand inhabitants and located in more than one county." Wentzville doesn't qualify under that definition.

You don't understand the language you quote when you attempt to discuss open enrollment. HB 808 would not force any school district to accept outsiders. North Kansas City would have "the right of first acceptance of scholarship students". That means they have the right to accept the kids if they want to, but they don't have to. Once again, you're simply wrong.

Guess what - you're wrong about the upper middle class, too. Participation is limited to students with family incomes "no more than one hundred thirty-five percent of the level that would make the student eligible for a reduced price lunch under the National School Lunch Act." That's relatively poor (a MAXIMUM of under $50,000 for a family of 4)- certainly not the upper middle class you were describing. They wouldn't be going to Pembroke or St. Paul's even with the scholarships - they would probably go to less expensive schools, perhaps Catholic, Muslim or Lutheran schools, as well as some other private academies that do great work without the high price tags of some others.

I believe that I have proven you wrong on several points in a way that respects that we are all Americans. Your wish has been granted.

Stephen Bough said...

Thanks for granting my wish. Point out where I am wrong; leave the insults behind. Welcome to the CCP site; take my left leaning views to task. You are clearly intelligent and know your stuff (Pembroke offers scholarships?!?). Your anonymous comments are welcome, your insults are not. Game on for the next comment.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Pembroke gives scholarships - they probably should. I was trying to point out that the scholarships under HB 808 would be portable - but probably insufficient to cover the difference between lower middle class income and Pembroke or St. Paul's tuition.

Dan said...

Pembroke does give scholarships - at least at the high school level.

mainstream said...

Who cares if Pembroke gives scholarships? I don't think a scholarship, or token scholarship program at Pembroke really changes anything in this discussion.

Note to Stephen: welcome to the fray, and a thicker skin will serve you well.

I often times open up my big mouth, and find my foot in it. Goes with being opinionated, and as long as we learn from open discourse, just about everybody wins.

Stephen Bough said...

Mainstream - good advice.

It's the SW MO redneck in me; always looking for a fight. I doubt the skin will thicken up.

Glad you have found your way to the CCP fray!!

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