School Transfers
11:38 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

From The Editor: Children Should Come First, But How?

Students are counting the days until winter break, but there's no break in sight in the controversies over school quality and student transfers.

All say they are working for the children
Credit laura00 | sxc.hu

In recent days, education reporters Tim Lloyd and Dale Singer took the lead in covering developments for the newly combined news operations of St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon. Their work was a good example of how we can serve you better together.

Our reporters brought extensive background knowledge to the current controversy. And with a larger newsroom, we were able to give them more time to ask the questions and add the context that helps untangle this complex issue. Their work reached you in several ways -- on radio, through our website and through social media -- and we now have greater opportunity to make the best use of each medium.

Tim and Dale covered the breaking news, of course. That included the latest from state officials, who met with the public in Normandy and Riverview Gardens. They also paid attention to developments in Kansas City, where the accreditation controversy has reached the boiling point.

Chris Nicastro
Credit DESE website

At the same time, our reporters dug beneath the surface of the breaking news, asking why and what's next as well as what happened. An extensive interview with Missouri education commissioner Chris Nicastro shed new light on the controversy that surrounds her. Working in concert with our political reporters, Dale and Tim continued to explore what the Missouri legislature might do.

In coming weeks, elected officials, education officials and possibly the courts will play important roles in deciding whether to change the student transfer law and related procedures. We'll continue to report on the options and actions with clarity -- and to examine the story behind the story.

Beyond the day-to-day developments lies a question that is simple to ask and stunningly complex to answer: How to provide the best education possible for every student. Every facet of the discussion has practical, political, ideological and financial dimensions. Every option faces intense scrutiny from well-organized, highly mobilized groups with much at stake in the fight.

So far, the only consensus seems to be that the current situation is not sustainable. The transfer law gives students in failing districts immediate access to better schools, but also drains their home districts of resources needed to make improvements.

To reach consensus on a solution, officials will have to compromise. But the potential compromises carry serious political risks: for Democrats, offending teachers and unions; for Republicans, offending school choice advocates and opponents of increased funding.

Everyone involved says the welfare of children should come first. But how?

In coming weeks, we'll report from many angles as this question gets addressed. We hope you'll not only follow this coverage but let us know how we might make our work more useful and relevant to you.

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