Saint Louis Public Schools’ Superintendent Kelvin Adams’ recent announcement of offering district sponsored charter schools could be a great developement for St. Louis city residents. This new approach to offering educational options to its student population reflects the national demand for education reform fueled, in part, by last year’s ‘Race to the Top’ initiative. Charter school expansion featured prominently in that debate.
While success rates of charters are debated, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls upon the Charter School movement leadership to meet the scrutiny of the nation through self-governance and by establishing the very highest standards of excellence, and then holding themselves accountable to these standards. He calls for charter schools to not tolerate poor performance amongst themselves as this does the most damage to their image and slows expansion and advancement. See CEAM’s report from the National Charter School Association’s annual conference in Chicago this past spring.
Among his comments during his call to action to charter school leaders was that the best charter schools in the country also rank among the best in the nation.
Among concerns of opponents is the threat of privatization of education. However, it is critical to understand that charter schools are public schools. CEAM produced a video on how charters function, found in our media center (Academie Lafayette, in Kansas City). The structure of a charter allows for greater autonomy and allows for school leadership to adapt more quickly to student needs, however they are expected to meet the same standard as their traditional public school alternative. Those who sponsor charter schools have a great obligation to monitor the progress and success of the school as well.
Supporters of charter schools in Missouri suggest that because charter schools are only allowed in Kansas City or Saint Louis, the best operators of the highest performing charter schools cannot be attracted to Missouri. Expansion of charters throughout the state would increase educational options for those seeking alternatives in our great state, and could potentially serve many who do not excel in typical classroom environments.
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