"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Guest Op Ed: “Who Needs Help; K-12 Education in Missouri”

October 9th, 2008 by mopns · No Comments

By Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield, Ph.D.

There is a belief that minority children in our central cities are our core education problem. This ignores the basic data on how children are performing in Missouri. While it is critical to focus on minority children in central cities, Missouri’s education policies have to focus on all our children. Let’s look at the data. (I’m defining a poor performing student as one who tests basic or below basic on MAP tests for 3-8, 10 and 11. A metro student is one who goes to school in St. Louis or Kansas City including charters. The data source was DESE using detailed District data. )

What most people “know” is:
Fact: More minority students test basic or below than white students.
(Table 2)
The numbers are 78% for black versus 47.6% for whites.

Fact: More metro students test basic or below than non-metro students.
(Table 2)
The numbers are 79.9% versus 51%.

Fact: Most minority students test basic or below.
(Table 2)
78% of black students test at basic or below.
Some new facts that may surprise you are:

Fact: Most minority students do not go to school in the metro areas.
(Table 1)
Only 30% of black students go to school in St. Louis or Kansas City.

Fact: Most poor performing minority students do not live in Metro areas.
(Table 3)
67% of black students testing basic or below go to school outside Kansas City and St. Louis City.

Fact: A small percentage of poor performers live in metro areas.
Only 10% of all students testing basic or below go to school in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Fact: Most poor performing students don’t live in metro areas and are white. (Table 4)
Almost 70% of children testing basic or below and living outside St. Louis and Kansas City are white.

What does this data mean? That solving the minority, metro problem will only affect less than 6% of students in Missouri. Solving the education problem will require an expanded focus on all schools from the bad to the great. Many minority children do poorly outside the metro areas. Almost half of white students need help.

I propose one change. Currently we only allow charter schools in Kansas City and St. Louis, because that is where most people think the problems are. Missouri is the only state with charters that is not statewide. Charters were approved in Missouri to help our poor performing students. (A reminder: Charter schools are public schools. They just aren’t strangled by bureaucratic regulations. In other states it’s common for a high school and its feeder schools to go charter to bring back true local control.) Since the problem area cannot be limited to St. Louis and Kansas City, and if charters are helpful, then we need charters for all of Missouri.

Table 1.  For Students by Race % Metro and Non Metro
% Metro               % Not Metro

Black           30.5                      69.5
Hispanic       30.8                      69.2
White            1.1                      98.9

Total             7.2                      92.8

Table 2
% of Students Testing Basic or Below by Race and Metro/Non Metro/Total
Metro         Not Metro         Total
Black        83.4              75.6                 78
Hispanic    77.7              64.4                 68.5
White       63.5              47.4                 47.6

Total        79.9             51.4                 53.4

Table 3
For Students Testing Basic or Below: % Metro and Non-Metro by Race
% Metro        % Not Metro             Total
Black                           32.6                 67.4                 100.0
Hispanic                       34.9                 65.1                 100.0
White                            1.5                 98.5                 100.0

Total                            10.7                 89.3                 100.0

Table 4    % by Race, Metro and Non-Metro for those Testing Basic or Below and Total
Basic or Below                      Total
Black Metro                   8.56                           5.48
Black Non Metro            12.49                         17.67
Hispanic Metro                 .97                            .67
Hispanic Non Metro          1.50                          1.82
White Metro                     .89                          1.07
White Non Metro            69.32                         78.06
Other Metro                     .13                             .11
Other Non Metro               .49                             .79



Tags: Kansas City · St. Louis

0 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Angel // Oct 9, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    I could not agree more. Expansion of charter schools to other areas will be beneficial to children throughout Missouri. Other reforms efforts should also be in place.
    These numbers are sad and upsetting, as a parent, but I hope they are a wake up call for those in a position to do something about it.

  • 2 Rep. Jane Cunningham // Oct 9, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Thank you for this excellent, documented analysis of the statewide academic achievement problems. Your recommendations are logical and practical.

    Citizens need to contact their Representative and Senator to urge their support for this reform proposal. If voters do not speak up, the status quo will be perpetuated by those whose job is protected by adherence to more of the same. ‘Children first’ should be our only measuring stick, but it is not without strong citizen input.

    Rep. Jane Cunningham, Chair
    House Education Committee

  • 3 More Choice and Competition is the Answer | Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri // Nov 13, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    […] Columbia, MO acknowledging something many of us who follow education have known for a long time – Missouri’s public schools are failing minorities.  This is not just a Kansas City or St. Louis problem as the link in the previous sentence shows. […]

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