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

Guest Op Ed: Education Reform in Gubernatorial Campaigns

October 8th, 2008 by mopns · No Comments

By Earl Simms

The recent outcry by Jay Nixon over campaign donations to Kenny Hulshof’s campaign is a red herring to distract us from the state of Missouri’s education system. By every measure Missouri’s education system is not delivering to the vast majority of the state’s children. The St. Louis Public School system is unaccredited and Kansas City Public Schools is likely to follow suit by 2010. It seems every week we are reading a story in the newspaper about another Missouri school that did not meet federal benchmarks set forth under No Child Left Behind. Why anyone would want to maintain the status quo on Missouri education is beyond me.

For this reason the Children’s Education Council of Missouri supports a wide array of education reforms that have had proven results in other states. One of these reforms is the expansion of charter schools. A charter school is a public school that is just organized differently than a traditional district public school. It is free and open to anyone in the public living in the district where the charter school operates. The only difference is that the school is responsible to the organization who opens, or charters, the school, usually a university or a national organization. If a charter school is not educating children it is closed by the chartering organization. Wouldn’t you like to see that as an option for the schools currently failing our children? Currently charters are only allowed to operate in the St. Louis and Kansas City Public School districts.

The charter model allows the school to respond quickly to changing needs for students. Quick response is not in the vocabulary of many school districts steeped in bureaucracy. As we are seeing, change can take years or even decades to implement. In Missouri, charter schools have proven to be a solid alternative to the failing traditional school districts in St. Louis and Kansas City. In 2007 MAP testing, charters have performed better than many of their traditional district counterparts in various grade levels in Math and Communications Arts.

This and other types of education reform can be powerful tools in reforming Missouri education. Any attempt to blind the public to the real goals of these reforms does a disservice to the children of Missouri who so desperately need for politicians to stop the rhetoric and produce results. In this case, Kenny Hulshof has presented a plan that calls for solid reform. Unfortunately, Jay Nixon has stuck to the status quo that has a proven record of failing Missouri’s children.

Earl Simms
State Coordinator, Children’s Education Council of Missouri
office: 314-454-6544

Related:

The Monsanto Fund recently presented UrbanFUTURE with a $30,000 grant that will allow the organization to expand its IMPACT Tutoring Program.

Pictured, from left, are: Frank Van Bree, president and chief executive officer of UrbanFUTURE St. Louis; Tiffany Hoeckelman, administrator for UrbanFUTURE St. Louis; and Dannette Ward, senior scientist at Monsanto.

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Tags: Decision '08 · Jay Nixon · Rep. Kenny Hulshof

0 responses so far ↓

  • 1 calle // Oct 8, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    I’m glad to see more education options at least garnering a discussion in Missouri. UrbanFUTURE is doing some really innovative things for kids in Missouri, and it’s working. There are so many people working to innovate education, and Missouri would be well-served to promote a culture that supports those innovators.

  • 2 dddd // Dec 13, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    I think is what is most sad is when organizations like UrbanFUTURE claim they are doing innovative things but in reality are taking advantage of a desperate need in the education system. Everyone is so eager for help that no one questions non-profits that claim to be dedicated to education reform. Yet, people need to take a closer look and examine the reality behind the jargon of non-profits. UrbanFUTURE is based on an excellent mission to help excellent students, but it does not realize it. In order to have educational reform, we need to stop assuming every non-profit that is designed to help students is actually doing that. Non-profits falsify data to get funds and make an empire out of helping kids when at the end it seems that its leaders are more about self-affirmation. The kids in St. Louis deserve more than having its citizens rally behind every non-profit that seems like it is for a good cause. Examine everything – the kids are counting on us to ensure that they receive the assistance they deserve.

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