Smithville becoming epicenter of the national school choice movement by way of the Stanley M. Herzog Foundation

SMITHVILLE, Mo. – The Stanley M. Herzog Foundation has quickly become a national leader for school choice, hosting a stellar inaugural event at its new headquarters here Thursday evening, headlined…

SMITHVILLE, Mo. – The Stanley M. Herzog Foundation has quickly become a national leader for school choice, hosting a stellar inaugural event at its new headquarters here Thursday evening, headlined by former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The event featured an on-stage discussion about education freedom between DeVos and Jay Nordlinger, senior editor of National Review and book fellow of the National Review Institute. The duo discussed DeVos’ eye-opening experience at the helm of the Department of Education, furthering Christian education across the country, and creating strong Education Savings Account programs (ESAs) for families to have more say in where they send their children to school.

“It was truly special to have the distinguished Secretary DeVos come speak at our very first event and share her passion for funding students instead of failing government systems,” Herzog Foundation President Darrell Jones told The Heartlander.

“The Herzog Foundation will continue to host tremendous events like this in the future, and we especially look forward to bringing nationally recognized figures to Smithville to share their wealth of knowledge with teachers, administrators, advocates and others, right here in Clay County. When we all come together and dedicate ourselves to strengthening the education system, the next generation truly benefits.”

The event highlighted efforts to expand and enhance school choice around the country – including by the Herzog Foundation, which hit the ground running when Missouri’s ESA program, MOScholars, launched this summer. Since the program began July 1, the Herzog Foundation has awarded over 390 scholarships totalling about $2.5 million in funds that families can use to send their children to a school of their choice.

“The Stanley M. Herzog Charitable Foundation’s mission is to catalyze and accelerate the development of quality Christ-centered K-12 education so that families and culture flourish,” the foundation’s website says. The Lion is the foundation’s online news site covering education nationally.

DeVos, who showcased her new book Hostages No More: The Fight for Education Freedom and the Future of the American Child, commended Herzog for providing kids opportunities for an education that fits them best.

“In Hostages No More, DeVos unleashes her candid thoughts about working in the Trump administration, recounts her battles over the decades to put students first, hits back at ‘woke’ curricula in our schools, and details the reforms America must pursue to fix its long and badly broken education system,” a synopsis for the book says.

The event saw over 120 elected officials, school choice advocates, parents and many others gather at the Herzog Foundation’s brand new, 18,000-square-foot building in Smithville with one goal in mind: furthering opportunities for parents to send their child to a school of their choice.

A key component to accomplishing that goal, the foundation says, includes upcoming teacher trainings, networking events and more at the new building in Smithville. The Herzog Foundation, as it already has at other venues, will host teachers and administrators from around the country to workshop, hear from national education leaders and discuss the future of America’s education system.

“We provide training, events, and conferences to address relevant topics within the Christian education sphere,” the website says. “These events will be a time to share best-practices on specifics from national thought leaders. Focuses will include Christian school administration training, network building events, marketing tools, and online education to name a few.”

Not only is the Herzog Foundation’s new building the site for future teacher trainings, Christian education workshops and awarding scholarships to positively impact Missouri’s youth, but its mere existence is also providing substantial economic impact to Clay County.

According to its website, the foundation is slated to drive $6.1 million into the area’s economy through the end of 2023, with a $1.7 million impact for tourism and $4.4 million in job creation.

“Not only does the Herzog Foundation benefit Christian schools nationwide, but it also provides a direct economic benefit to the Clay County community,” Herzog Foundation Chairman Todd Graves said. “Clay County is already one of the fastest growing communities in Missouri, and the Herzog Foundation will only increase its economic growth.”