Providing a good public education is one of the most important steps we can take to improve the future for the City of St. Louis. Without good schools, we will doom thousands of children to lives of hopelessness - and in too many cases, a life of crime. Without good public schools, we won’t be able to make a dent in generations of poverty, bring new children to our neighborhoods, or attract cutting-edge industries to our region.
That’s why the failure of the St. Louis public school district is so galling - and its improvement, so urgent. That’s why I support the Transitional School Board. And it is also why I support quality charter schools.
Charter schools are free public schools available as choices for the parents of all City children. Charter school students must take the state academic assessment test and the school must meet the state’s grade level expectations. The schools are subject to audits, health and safety standards. Many sponsors require student, parent and teacher satisfaction surveys. But because they operate outside the control of the St. Louis public school district’s bureaucracy and culture, charter schools can be innovative, creative and entrepreneurial. They can also be disorganized and under-funded. And that’s where an important difference between SLPS and charter schools emerges. Charter schools that are providing a good education have waiting lists; those that have failed have closed.
Many of you know that I have asked the Missouri General Assembly to allow me to authorize the opening of new charter schools in the City now, while the Transitional District starts its work. Charter schools run by local boards will be responsive to the families and the neighborhoods they serve. Parents will be able to choose a school that best meets their child’s need. Principals will be able to choose teachers who match the spirit and expectations of their schools. And teachers will be able to choose to work in a school that complements their interests and talents.
Who could be against this?