After 3-year social media hiatus, outgoing Missouri state senator posts opposition to school choice

(The Lion) — As support for educational freedom and parents’ rights has grown in Missouri’s Republican party, one senator bucked the trend by firing off a rare social media reply.

“This is Senator Elaine Gannon,” said a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, by the Republican from Senate District 3. “No, I do not support a universal school choice bill.”

Gannon’s reply came after Corey DeAngelis, senior fellow at the American Federation for Children and the executive director at the Educational Freedom Institute, sought responses from her and two other senators about whether they support Rep. Doug Richey’s universal school choice bill.

“It’s a pretty ridiculous move,” DeAngelis told The Lion of the senator’s post.

Before that, Gannon’s last post on the platform was related to her senate campaign in 2020.

“She basically has had a Frankenstein Twitter account that has come out of hiding after three years,” DeAngelis continued. “She hasn’t posted since June of 2020. And the very first thing that she decides to post is an attack on parental rights and education.”

In other red states, such as Texas, educational freedom and parents’ rights have become litmus tests for reelection within the Republican party.

In Missouri, however, Gannon won’t have to worry about reelection, having announced last week she would not run again in 2024.

The senator has long opposed school choice as a state lawmaker. In March, Gannon opposed the open enrollment bill passed by the House, a modest school choice policy already implemented in many states.

She has been endorsed by big unions in the state, including the Missouri chapter of the AFL-CIO and the Missouri National Education Association.

Along with those endorsements came money. Unions contributed over $47,000 to Gannon campaigns between 2016 and 2022, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

That was enough to make unions the largest single special interest to support Gannon financially, with four of her top nine campaign contributors coming from Big Labor.

The top donor was the Missouri National Education Association, the state teachers’ union affiliate, which dropped $8,000 in support of Gannon. The Missouri State Teachers Association also kicked in another $4,359.

However, DeAngelis told The Lion that the attempt by unions to oppose school choice has simply solidified GOP support for education freedom in Missouri.

“They’re signaling public support for school choice, and it shows you that the political winds have shifted even more in favor of parental rights in education,” said DeAngelis.

Today, members of the Legislature who disagree on other issues are finding common ground on education choice this year, he said.

“You have differing people who disagree on other areas in the Senate … signaling strong support for a specific universal school choice bill. That’s good news,” he said, noting that what matters most is how legislators eventually vote.

“Either side with parents and their own party platform, or [side with union boss] Randi Weingarten and [Missouri Democrat] Jess Piper” in opposing school choice, he concluded.

Attempts by The Lion to reach Sen. Gannon before publication were unsuccessful.

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