Saint Louis city requires real solutions for public school options within the city.
There has been much discussion of the Turner v. Clayton school district case reviewed by the Missouri Supreme Court last year. While the judges handed the case back down to a lower court for further review, major discussions about the future viability of St. Louis Public Schools abound.
The decision of the court, as pointed out in “U-Turner: Proven systems to enable school reform are close to home,” states that the law, “in plain language,” does indeed allow those residing in unaccredited school districts in Missouri to attend a school of their choice in the same or an adjoining county. Therefore, a mass exodus from the SLPS is conceivable if hundreds, or even thousands, of city residents enroll their children in schools outside of the district, calling on their statutory right, and sending the tuition bills to SLPS.
This situation begs the question, how can SLPS improve in the face of budget cut-backs if city residents call upon their statutory rights and simply leave, thus allowing the funding to follow those children to their schools of choice outside of the district?
The possibility exists that through innovative and proven reforms St. Louis Public Schools can offer solutions of school choice within their district and maintain their student population. School choice options like open enrollment, charter school expansion, improved teacher quality through professional development and forms of merit pay that offer incentives to high-quality teachers to serve the urban core should all be on the table. Kelvin Adams is already working toward district sponsored charter schools and he is expected to hold them highly accountable for their performance.
St. Louis city needs to aggressively pursue options that will keep students and families together in their community in Saint Louis. If they do not, they will indeed see an exodus at the crossroad of school choice and the death of their communities.