A very blunt editorial in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch sounds a warning to the two men most likely to lead the state for the next four years: “If Missouri’s next governor puts the circus back in charge of St. Louis Public Schools, he will doom more generations of children to failure.”
A strong public school district is an essential part of a portfolio of options parents in the City should have for their children. The SAB is the best — and last — hope for the City’s traditional school district.
Right now, only 18,000 children attend traditional public schools in the City. The parents of thirty-three thousand other children who live in the City have made other choices — 9,000 kids in magnet schools; 9,000 in charter schools; 8,000 in parochial or private schools; and 7,000 in county schools.
The good news is that City parents have quality choices for their children; the bad news is that there are not enough quality choices. The parents of nearly 11,000 school-age children have moved to the suburbs since 2000 looking for other school choices. (That the City’s population has held steady and, even, grown slightly during some of that period is strong testimony to the other attractions of our neighborhoods to young people, new immigrants, and empty nesters, but of no consolation to families who have felt compelled to leave their neighborhoods to find schools.)
I am working to do my part to improve the St. Louis Public School district. But, that will take time — and, for now, the steady leadership of the SAB and the energy of new Superintendent Kelvin Adams. That’s the point the newspaper was making today. City parents — and families who would love to stay in, or move into, our neighborhoods — must hope for that improvement.
But, neither parents nor I can wait for it. I have created a process to identify quality charter schools and help get them sponsorships so they can open in the City. There are several new charter schools preparing to open in south St. Louis neighborhoods. The two charter schools already downtown will likely see company — and competition for students — soon. (When I visit Lindenwood University ’s new City campus building next month, charter sponsorship will be at the top of my list to discuss with President Evans.)
Readers know that I have endorsed Jay Nixon for governor. I believe that Jay has learned a lot about St. Louis over the years, and that his administration would be best for the City. But, whether Jay or Kenny Hulshof prevails in next week’s election, the state’s next governor must support the SAB’s work to improve the St. Louis Public School district.