Commentaries

During Morning Edition and All Things Considered, or on Cityscape

Commentaries are opinion pieces provided by a wide variety of individuals in the St. Louis region. They are not necessarily the opinion of St. Louis Public Radio, but are intended to reflect diverse viewpoints on issues affecting our region. To submit a commentary or proposal, email commentaries@stlpublicradio.org.

Recently St. Louisans heard the news: we’re getting IKEA.  Well, we’re getting an IKEA that will occupy a big concrete box with 700 parking spaces and a handful of trees around it.

children studying
laura00 | sxc.hu

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

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.

Photo of Nancy Pelosi
Wikipedia

A Words to Live By award goes to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who reportedly advised her fellow Democrats to “embrace the suck” and vote for the budget agreement crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

It seems that liberal colleagues objected to certain provisions of the compromise but Pelosi believed a flawed deal beat no deal at all. Her half-a-loaf-is-better-than-nothing approach was reminiscent of the practicality that once characterized negotiations on Capitol Hill.

Workers demonstrate in support of a higher minimum wage.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

A push is going on to enact a $15-an-hour minimum wage. While some increase may be justified, that would make it more than a safety net.

 The Churchillian observation raises an interesting question: why should the queen concern herself with the minimum wage? After all, she’s always been rather well compensated for her labors, whatever those may be. 

photo of Kathleen Martinez
Courtesy Starkloff Disability Institute

In a speech sponsored by the Starkloff Disability Institute, the assistant secretary of labor and head of the Office of Disability Employment Policy spells out why hiring people with disabilities makes good sense. The remarks have been edited for length and clarity.

Missisissippi River Has Inspired Art For Generations

Dec 6, 2013

I just finished reading Paul Schneider's, "The Mississippi River in North American History." What a great read and what an amazing river. Cultures and entire civilizations have left their mark along this incredible waterway. We can view art and artifacts of the people living in and around the Mississippi now and those that perished thousands of years ago and throughout the ages in our arts and cultural institutions.

Courtesy of Beyond Housing

A recent decision by the Normandy School District will set the stage for the state and our region to address the financial aspect of the student transfer law.   Whether or not you agree with their decision, Normandy was not in any financial trouble before the transfer ruling and was in full compliance of state standards of fiscal soundness.  So how did we get here?

Courtesy of Show Me Institute

Imagine going to a school where less than a quarter of students are reading on grade level and a third of your classmates will never make it to graduation. Many students in the St. Louis area do not have to imagine because that is their sad reality. Until recently, students in these failing schools have been trapped unless they could afford private school tuition or they could move to a different school district.

Most of us are familiar with MAC, the Missouri Arts Council, RAC, the Regional Arts Commission and A&E, the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis. MAC, is of course, our state arts agency, RAC is the regional agency funded by a portion of the hotel and motel sales tax, and A&E is our privately funded arts agency. Very few folks are familiar with M-AAA, our six states regional arts alliance.

St. Louis Public Radio

For the past year, St. Louis Public Radio producer Erin Williams has covered regional race matters, diversity and culture as part of an inaugural fellowship made possible, in part, by a grant from the Public Policy Research Center.

Her last day is today, October 18, 2013, and we wish her well as she continues her journalism career.

Williams' commentary about her one year in St. Louis as well as her conversation with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh appear below:

In Missouri, as in most states, public schools are administered by local school boards.  The boundaries of school districts are drawn in accordance with state law. Schools are funded primarily through local property taxes. Districts with higher per capita incomes tend to have better schools.  The districts most in danger of losing their accreditation tend to be those with lower per capita incomes.

When giving tours at the Saint Louis Art Museum, people often ask about prints and want to know if they are as important as paintings and I explain that they are another medium of the visual arts. People often are confused and think that prints are just copies of paintings and I have to clarify the issue and explain what a print actually is and that luminaries such as Rembrandt, Max Beckmann, Helen Frankenthaller, and Jasper Johns were painters as well as printmakers.

(Courtesy of D.J. Wilson)

Cost is factor no matter what you are buying – a six-pack of beer, a pair of jeans, a house, or for a state government, a public education for school-age children.

 Much has been said about the cost of the region’s current inter-district student transfer program. Much of what has been said about that cost has been incomplete, or ill informed.  

The one price tag that’s been floated is $35 million. Let’s break that down. 

Commentary: The Circus Arts Thrive In St. Louis

Sep 6, 2013
Courtesy Circus Flora

The modern definition of a circus is based on the ancient word referring to the actual performance area, a circle of sorts, in which gladiatorial events, chariot races, etc. took place.

(Courtesy Jarred Gastreich)

Listeners following the city’s ongoing renaissance may have heard of a project named Midtown Station, a giant commercial center proposed for Vandeventer and Forest Park. This could be a dreadful retail strip or a game-changing development. The way it gets built matters a lot.

 

Provided by Susan Uchitelle

Because the St. Louis Metropolitan area did such an outstanding job with its first voluntary student transfer program, fortunately or unfortunately they have now been blessed with a second one.  This transfer program however, entails just two suburban school districts, Normandy and Riverview Gardens, both of which are unaccredited. As a result, their students may transfer to another school district in the region.  2640 students have signed up to transfer.     

Provided by Susan Uchitelle

All of us should be greatly concerned that the continuation of the Sequestration will have an extremely negative impact on the future of our schools and our school age children. It adversely impacts education in many ways
 

St. Louis Art Museum East Building
Jacob Sharp/Image courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum and Architectural Wall Systems

The East Building of The Saint Louis Art Museum, designed by Sir David Chipperfield, world class architect, has been open for only a month and the crowds are still overwhelming the staff, volunteers ,and particularly the docents who have been training harder than ever to give exciting and informative tours of not only the new building, but the beautiful reinstalled galleries of the Cass Gilbert West Building.

Courtesy of Beyond Housing

The recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling in Brietenbart v. Clayton and the subsequent events shine a light on a difficult proposition: How do we support families wanting the best education possible for their children and help struggling school districts get better?  The case was brought by families in the then unaccredited City of St. Louis Schools wanting to send their children to the affluent, successful Clayton School District.  They argued that their unaccredited district was not giving their children the education they deserved and worth what the family was paying in taxes.

The Role Of Money In The Arts

Jul 5, 2013

Money talks, and a new book was just written by Travis Brown entitled, Money Walks. Money is the root of all evil, etc., etc. etc.

I recently attended a few of the second annual St. Louis Humanities Festival offerings. The theme this year was "Money" and the subtitle was, "Need,  Greed, and Generosity."

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