Charter Schools in St Louis

Mayor Slay announced that he wants to revitalize schools in the city by adding new charters schools at the rate of 2-3 per year. He says that the city is really changing, and the last piece of the puzzle keeping people from staying in the city is having high-quality public schools. But he wants those schools to be charter schools.

I'm conflicted about this. We're committed to city living and we would love to be able to send our kids to a high-quality, diverse neighborhood public school. I also think there are examples of highly successful charter schools out there--Minnesota was the first state to have a charter school and they've had success with many different niche schools and models. They do provide an alternative to failing schools for people who want their kids in public school. They also allow for specialized focuses, such as languages, math & science, entrepreneurship, that might not be offered at traditional public schools.

But I worry that this is the right thing for St Louis. With the mayor himself advocating for a complete alternative to the SLPS, which Slay himself has had a hand in driving into the ground, I wonder if other city leaders have completely abandoned SLPS and any hope for the future. It seems that if the mayor is putting his efforts in education in a completely different directions, he won't really be focused on revitalizing SLPS. To me, it's a copout and it's completely irresponsible, and those students who have no choice but to go to SLPS will receive an even poorer education. Even Rick Sullivan, the Blunt-appointed CEO of the SLPS transitional school board, does not agree with Slay. Is Slay upset that the candidates he backed for school board completely screwed things up? I also see this as potentially marginalizing for those students who won't be accepted at charter schools. I would hate for the city of St Louis to condemn children to a poor education because of the mistakes of their parents, or because they haven't had success in the shitty school they've had to attend their whole lives.

On the other hand, charter schools aren't taking money away from SLPS, but they might be taking away other resources. And I don't really agree with public schools being operated by for-profit corporations. I think a socially-just way to create charter schools, and help improve the SLPS, would be to create charter schools targeted at the hardest-to-reach students, those who need the most help. That way, they'd be getting the high-quality, committed educators that Slay referenced in his interview with the Post Dispatch, they'd be getting the extra attention, and SLPS could focus on using the resources they have to teach their students who already have experienced success in the classroom. If you take the students with behavioral problems out of the classroom, teachers have more time to teach and don't have to focus on classroom management. If you take the kids with serious academic issues out of the traditional classroom and give them more individual attention, they will have a better chance of catching up and graduating.

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