Wednesday, February 08, 2012

SLPS to offer Charter Schools?

Word around town is that the St. Louis Public Schools may open its own charter schools.

This would be a huge change in policy given that for years the public school system has opposed the expansion of charter schools in St. Louis.

I must say that the development is confusing, but maybe in a good way. Charter Schools are operated outside of the regular public school system. By proposing its own charter schools, is the SLPS trying to distance itself from some of its own challenges?

Charter Schools need a sponsor to get a charter. They can be geographically based. Or with a certain educational emphasis. They are a little experimental in that they provide families an education option outside of the regular public schools and are an attempt at a school reform.

Not everyone is convinced that Charter Schools outperform their regular public school competitors.

Nonetheless, if this information is indeed true, that the SLPS is getting into the Charter School business, would you call this move the "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em" strategy?


Ben said...

Would be awesome to see WashU and SLU partner with some charter schools like Tulane does in New Orleans. Lusher is very successful and considered one of the best schools in the city, kind of like Metro I guess. Tulane lets Lusher juniors/seniors take college classes for free!

heres a link:

Rick Bonasch said...

Great idea, Ben. If SLU or Wash U were to support charter schools near their campuses, it would be one more way the schools could be a partner in the strengthening the neighborhoods around them.

Both universities are surrounded by heavily populated neighborhoods. Both schools are very interested in the future of city neighborhoods. The schools are already neighborhood anchors, and this would be a good way to leverage that connection.

Rick Bonasch said...

This response came up on Facebook:

Wash U and SLU already do sponsor charter schools. Wash U is the sponsor of KIPP Inspire Academy and St. Louis University sponsors City Garden Montessori. UMSL sponsors St. Louis Language Immersion Schools.

Will Fru said...

All the charter schools are sponsored by area universities, and not just SLU and Wash U. A list of the St. Louis charter schools and their sponsors is here:

samizdat said...

Charter schools are a shill used to dismantle the public school system, nothing else. From most sources, it appears that the students don't do better, plus they tend to skim off the children whose parents tend to be more supportive of their children, which leaves the rest of the system wanting for a well-behaved and disciplined student body. If charter schools can prove that they not only are as good as public schools, but better, then I might be a bit more supportive. As of now, though, the idea that this country will be nothing without free public schools is still valid. If a public school, anywhere, urban, rural, or suburban, is having trouble, it isn't because the concept of public education is no longer tenable. It is most often the result of poor nutrition, unstable home life, homelessness, uncaring or disinterested parents, old and outdated texts. That list could go on. The least of the schools problems are the teachers. Any disparaging anecdotal or hearsay stories of disaffected teachers could be matched a hundred-fold by the tales of half-insane parents meddling in, or worse, ignoring, the education of their little hell-spawn.

GMichaud said...

SLU sponsors Grand Center Arts Academy also.

Roger Mexico said...

Charter schools are a response to the poor performance of urban districts, which as we all know face great challenges. I think everyone would acknowledge the problems of poverty, unstable home life, disinterested parents, etc., but schools and school boards don’t have control over those things. Schools and school boards have influence over principals, teachers and the school learning environment, so that’s where education reformers focus their efforts. I disagree with your assertion that educational reformers don’t care about improving education, although there are clearly some companies trying to capitalize on charter schools that should be put out of business (I’m looking at you, Imagine Schools).

Roger Mexico said...

An aside on charter school performance: if you use only MAPS test results for schools all with 90+% free lunch (apples to apples comparison), STL charter school results are mostly average other than KIPP (better) and Imagine Schools (worse). Average MAPS pass rates of 28 STL public elementary schools with >90% free/reduced lunch populations in 2011 was 24% and 25% for math and English respectively (from DESE MAPS data available online). So KIPP at 43%/32% looks pretty good and up there with the top five public elementaries from this group (Herzog, Peabody, Ford, Lexington, Bryan Hill). Confluence Academies three elementary charters were pretty average (27%/24% combined) as was Lift for Life (28%/23%). Imagine Schools all sucked.
The other charters (e.g. City Garden, Gateway Science) are tougher to evaluate because they have significantly different student populations (less poor students). Equally bogus are efforts to compare all the charters with Kinnard/Metro gifted programs.