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Scholarship bill targets St. Louis and Kansas City

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By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Students in failing schools in St. Louis and Kansas City would be eligible for scholarships to attend better public schools or even private schools under proposed legislation in the Missouri House.

House Speaker Pro-tem Carl Bearden is sponsoring the bill, which is named after former State Representative Betty Thompson.

If passed, low-income students in St. Louis and Kansas City could apply for scholarships to attend a better-performing public school. If the public school will not accept them, only then could a scholarship recipient enroll in a private school.

"When over 42% of high school students in the St. Louis Public Schools do not graduate, we have a serious problem," says Bearden, "and one that millions and millions of dollars in funding increases have not addressed."

Bearden says the scholarship will not use state tax dollars, but will be funded by private donations.

KWMU contacted the St. Louis School District for a response. Spokesman Tony Sanders says the school board would first have to examine the bill before commenting.