Official Blog of the Education Exchange Corps

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

St. Louis May Only Have Three More Years to Live

24.6 out of 100. 

That's the St. Louis city school district's grade on a new state scale designed to better measure how well a school district is doing.

Yes, it is possible to get a perfect 100. And yes, a school district, Brentwood, did just that. Other school districts were able to score quite highly too.

But not the school district serving our city.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the two school districts in St. Louis County (the city is not a part of the county) that lost accreditation, allowing the students in those two districts to attend school elsewhere. One of those two districts scored a 28.6/100.

That's four points higher than the currently provisionally accredited city school district. To be at least provisionally accredited, a school must score a 50/100 or higher.

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education officials claim that the city schools won't see a change in their accreditation status for at least three years.

If nothing changes, that's exactly how long the City of St. Louis has to live.

If nothing gets better, in three years every child in St. Louis City will be able to transfer to an accredited school district. The city schools will have to pay tuition and some busing costs. And those parents who do the work to have their kids transferred to a different school district will likely be those parents already most involved in their kids' lives.
The city schools will then serve a student body that, overall, has less support or resources at home, and the district will have to do its job with a lot less money.

Without some sort of massive turn-around plan for the city schools, that will be the end of the district. Today, the two unaccredited St. Louis County districts both find themselves in unsustainable financial circumstances.

In three years, the city schools will start to get worse, not better. Those kids who cannot transfer will leave school with even worse educations. With each passing year, the number of kids in the city schools will shrink along with the amount of money the district has until both evaporate.

No more kids in city schools. No more city school district. City residents will no longer even have the hope that the next year might be better for their kids. Maybe some families will stay or even move to the city to take advantage of the busing program, but how long do you think businesses and residents will stick around in a city without a school district where their kids have to get up at an ungodly hour to make it onto their buses? And how long will there even be money for the buses?

Our city cannot wait any longer. The superintendent for the district, Dr. Kelvin Adams, promised that next year's scores would be better. Is our city willing to make that promise too?

The clock is ticking.

Elad Gross is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Education Exchange Corps.

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