YOUR OPINION: Don't mistake lobbyist opinion for fact

To the Editor:

The recent headline, "Fulton school board learns about virtual education," should have been: "School board lobbied by school board lobbyist" because what the article described was no more than a one-sided presentation by a special interest/lobbying group (the Missouri School Boards' Association) pushing to eliminate the very state-wide virtual education program that the board was supposedly learning about (Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program).

In the interest of learning, then, consider the following:

Before sending her to address your school board, MSBA sent Susan Goldammer to Jefferson City, to convince legislators to dismantle or disable MOCAP. (Full transparency, I too am an advocate, just on the side fighting for students who've been denied access to MOCAP). When that failed, MSBA apparently decided to try "generating" one-sided hearings and subsequent news coverage thereof (where their words might be mistaken for fact or at least independent authority).

To call out but one statement from the article, Ms. Goldammer apparently suggested to your school board a MOCAP education is inferior to a Fulton education (relying on a now 6-year-old study on virtual education that compared the grades of one set of students to those of an entirely different set of students). Setting aside obvious improvements to technology, and its availability, all MOCAP providers are approved by the state, use Missouri certified teachers and must follow Missouri learning standards.

What may be even worse though, is parents being told enrolling in MOCAP is selfish and harmful to their communities. All a public school ever needs to fix any problem is more money, and MOCAP costs money (in addition to the teachers, counselors, books, and all other materials needed for students to learn successfully at home; many or most providers loan students laptops). Think this is about ensuring your student's "best education interest" and not money?

Here's a test: ask to "homeschool" your student. Nobody will run to the papers. They also won't offer you one penny of the $9,693 they spend each year on each student. I doubt they'll offer you library privileges. Full-time MOCAP students cost a fraction of this, and Fulton keeps the difference without so much as cooking a single meal for that student.

In conclusion, please do your own research, and please don't think you have no options, or that you can't possibly improve your child's education (and chances for future success) just because a lobbyist managed to get a sales pitch printed in the paper.

Joshua Schindler

St. Louis

Editor's note: In 2019, Joshua Schindler, a St. Louis attorney, represented a local family in a lawsuit against Fulton Public Schools, claiming FPS impropertly denied the family's request to access a specific virtual education program through the school district.