Rex and Jeanne recognize the lifelong benefits of a high-quality education. Given access to a superior education, children will be prepared for the demands and opportunities of our changing world and communities can thrive. Many Missouri schools are in desperate need of innovative policies that put children of all socio-economic backgrounds first. Underperforming and failing schools have a devastating impact on our ability to prepare our children and state for the employment needs of the 21st century.
Rex and Jeanne’s support of increased parental choice and innovative policy solutions helped to educate the public, media, elected officials and education leaders, breaking through the paradigms of outdated approaches to education. In 2012, the Missouri legisature passed a law allowing charter schools throughout the entire state of Missouri with conditions. While improved, this Missouri law still creates unnecessary obstacles to the creation of new charter schools. Rex and Jeanne support continuing efforts to further reform this charter school law. Additionally, the Sinquefields support education policies that include empowerment scholarship accounts, course access/virtual learning and open enrollment. They believe all schools should be accountable for students’ performance and educational well-being.
State Adequacy Suit:
In Missouri, the amount of public school system’s funding, as a percent of revenues, is set out in state law: the law provides that the state “set apart [no] less than  percent of the state revenue, exclusive of interest and sinking fund, to be applied annually to the support of the free public schools.” In 2009, 271 of Missouri’s 524 school districts filed suit against the state of Missouri. The districts claimed that Missouri was not meeting its constitutional requirement to adequately fund public schools. In defense of the State of Missouri, Bevis Shock, Menlo Smith and Rex intervened in the suit, a Missouri Supremem Court case. The court ruled in favor of the State and private interveners, sending a clear and unambiguous message to school districts across the state, and across the country, to rethink their funding and resources. The Court stated that the districts: “…are attempting to read a separate funding requirement that would require the legislature to provide ‘adequate’ education funding in excess of the 25-percent requirement contained in section 3(b). Such language does not exist.” The Missouri Supreme Court ruling can be found here: http://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=34102.
Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM) and School Transfer Case:
Rex and Jeanne believe that parents who are engaged in their children’s education and related policy-making are essential to improving opportunities for all. This is why they provide substantial support to the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM).
Based in St. Louis, CEAM was founded in 2008, and has since become the leading state-based education reform organization. Through one-on-one meetings, door-to-door canvassing, advocacy trainings and visits to the state capital CEAM engages, trains and activates people with a passion for the future of Missouri’s children. Whether a child is stuck in a school that doesn’t function and is failing by our Missouri’s own standards or is stuck in a school that doesn’t fit the child’s learning needs, CEAM’s network is demanding better, more innovative K-12 options.
CEAM helps parents and other concerned individuals and organizations take action, confront the staus-quo, and take a seat at the decision-making table. CEAM has trained thousands of district and charter school parents across the state. In addition to parental engagement, CEAM facilitates school transparency through researching and publishing pay and performance data, which is made available at no cost through its website. Read about CEAM’s advanced advocacy training for parents here: https://www.ceamteam.org/advocacy-training/
Most recently, CEAM played a central role in passing a new virtual education law which will open the door of educational opportunity to students across the state. CEAM is diligently working to make sure the law is properly implemented and that families have as many options as possible under the new program.
CEAM’s role in the Missouri Unaccredited Schools Transfer Case:
CEAM has consistently stood firmly alongside parents who are trying to navigate a crippling public school bureaucracy and by protecting their legal rights. From 2014 to 2016, CEAM worked closely with the parents and students in Normandy and Riverview Gardens, which at the time were Missouri’s two unaccredted districts.
Not only did CEAM help parents through the murky waters of complicated and oftentimes non-sensical transfer paperwork and unclear expectations, but when the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Normandy Schools Collaborative, and several “receiving” school districts collectively blocked students from transferring out of their failing district into higher performing districts, CEAM financially supported a successful legal challenge.
Judge Michael Burton’ ruling was unambiguous when he admonished the Missouri State Board of Education for essentially attempting an end-run around the law, noting that “[no] document submitted into evidence by the Defendants states that the Normandy Schools Collaborative (NSC) is in fact ‘accredited’…The Board figured it could either illogically call a horribly failing school district ‘accredited’ or call the NSC something else and boldly announce that the transfer statue would not be applicable. The Board chose the latter approach.”
Continue reading about Judge Burton’s ruling here: https://www.ceamteam.org/judge-burton-rules-normandy-families-ceam-statement/
CEAM has continued to support parents involved in the transfer program as it has been phased out, helping them to find other education options and working to expand greater school choice to help them and families across the state.