Charter Schools | St. Louis Public Radio

Charter Schools

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The St. Louis Public Schools will ask the Missouri State Board of Education for permission to sponsor a new charter school that will lease space in a vacant district property on the city's north side.

The state board that oversees the district approved the request last night.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The 2012 Missouri legislative session is underway, and much of the first-day talk revolved around the challenges facing the state’s public schools.

In addition to Missouri’s K-12 schools not being fully funded, suburban school districts near St. Louis and Kansas City may be forced to accept thousands of transfer students from the inner cities, thanks to the State Supreme Court’s ruling in Turner v. Clayton.  House Speaker Steven Tilley (R, Perryville) says any solutions to those problems should include tuition tax credits for kids in unaccredited areas, and statewide expansion of charter schools.

(Alex Taylor/St. Louis Public Radio)

In August, four new charter schools opened in the city of St. Louis. One of the four is Better Learning Communities Academy, a small school for kindergarten through 2nd grade students.

Since the St. Louis Public School District lost its accreditation in 2007, charter schools have been popping up around the city to offer alternate choices for education.

Charter schools are not required to follow a state curriculum and many are reporting scores at drastically low levels.

Better Learning Communities Academy, however, might be one of the new charter schools turning that statistic around.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Alex Taylor takes a look at BLCA after its first semester and reports a brighter side of St. Louis charter schools.

(via Flickr/Lauren Manning)

Two under-performing St. Louis charter schools will close at the end of the school year.

James French, chairman of Missouri Baptist University's Education Division, which sponsors the schools, announced Monday that Imagine Academy of Academic Success and Imagine Academy of Cultural Arts, will close.

The university, which began sponsoring the schools in 2006, said neither school was living up to academic performance standards, was financially sound, or was showing signs of improvement.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

There are 20 charter schools in the city of St. Louis, and when classes start Monday, four more will open their doors.

Charters get public funding, but they have more autonomy from the state.

The free schools are a draw for parents who want to avoid the unaccredited St. Louis Public Schools system.

But some charters are performing far below state standards.

And as St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports in the second of a two-part series, no one is holding them accountable.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

Classes begin Monday in the St. Louis Public School District.

But four new charter schools also will be opening their doors.

Charters receive public funding but have more freedom with their budgets, staff, and curriculum than traditional public schools.

Many parents in St. Louis welcome the charter alternative and more than a quarter of the city’s students attend charter schools.

As part of a two-part series on charters, St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman looks at how that trend is affecting the city’s public school district.

Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis will have four new charter schools when school begins in a few weeks.

The mayor was on hand when the latest school, Better Learning Communities Academy, announced Wednesday it’s enrolling students.

Mayor Francis Slay has endorsed all four of the charters opening this year.

At the same time he says some of the St. Louis Public Schools are working. 

(Mo. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education)

Missouri’s top K-12 education official is giving lawmakers mixed grades on the just-completed legislative session.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Saying the process of collaboration is not what it should have been, St. Louis Public Schools superintendent Kelvin Adams delayed tonight  presenting his budget for the 2011-2012 school year.

The budget is likely to include layoffs and the closure of as many as three schools. Letters have already gone out to the parents at Bunche and Stevens middle schools, and Kottmeyer Big Picture High School, and library and media specialists from the district were out in force to protest the possibility that some of them may lose their jobs.

(via Flickr/comedy_nose)

Three new charter schools will open to St. Louis City residents in August.

Jamaa Learning Center will serve kindergarten through eighth grade, Preclarus Mastery Academy will enroll grades 5-to-12 and South City Prep for grades 5-to-12 will offer a year-round academic calendar.

Mayor Francis Slay announced the new charter schools this morning and said education is the number one issue in the City of St. Louis.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

To say that turnout last night at the St. Louis Public Schools' parent forum on possible major changes to district policy for next year was low would be an understatement.

Flickr | alkruse24

The St. Louis Public School District is adopting a more inclusive policy for charter schools.

Historically, the district has accused charters of siphoning away students and resources.

St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams says the time has to be more proactive in regard to charters.

Confluence Prep principal John Diehl 2008
Photos provided by Confluence Academy

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 30, 2008 - The logo is Matisse-like in its simplicity and complexity: a crescent, a circle and a few other geometric shapes that form a human body floating in space and reaching for a star. The image was created for Confluence Academy to evoke the charter school's mission of helping kids learn to believe, achieve and reach their dreams.

Parents and students already believe in those dreams enough to make Confluence the largest K-8 charter school system in St. Louis. This support, along with grants from groups like the Walton Foundation, has paved the way for Confluence's first high school, Confluence Preparatory Academy, which opens in mid-August.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 9, 2008 - Since opening their doors in 1999 in Kansas City and a few years later in St. Louis, charter schools have continued to claim a growing share of school-age children in these two cities. As of last fall, about 1 in every five students in each city had enrolled in charter schools, a trend cited by some as proof that charters are gaining acceptance and are producing better results than traditional public schools.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 6, 2008 - Former Mayor Barton Petersen became known as an education reformer when he did what most mayors have never been able to do. He wrested power from the city's school system by persuading the state legislature to grant the mayor statutory authority to set up charter schools in Indianapolis.

KIPP students in Kansas City work quietly at tables.
Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon Archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: KANSAS CITY — Across the street from the forward-looking kids at KIPP Endeavor Academy in Kansas City sits the other side of the coin — down-on-their-luck men who sit on a crumbling rock fence, drink wine or beer from brown paper bags, listen to a booming hip-hop beat on a car radio and watch the world pass them by. The scene is hardly uplifting for children trying to hold fast to a KIPP-inspired dream of making it out of this neighborhood and into college. But sights like these do not discourage KIPP officials.

Teacher Ricky Presberry works with a student at the KIPP Kansas City school
Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon Archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: KANSAS CITY -- When he was a teacher in Kansas City public schools, Jon Richard felt frustration because the academic gains made by his fifth graders would disappear in middle school. Now Richard (pronounced ri-SHARD) is in a position to help reverse this pattern. He is a school leader for KIPP, a charter school system that has a track record for helping kids retain knowledge and attend college.

Kristi Meyer,KIPP KC math teacher, demonstrates how 5th graders use small marshmallows and toothpicks to understand vertices, ends and geometric shapes.
Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon Archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: KANSAS CITY  -- One recent Monday morning at the KIPP charter school here, some fifth-graders were walking single-file down a corridor when a visitor introduced himself. Like little soldiers, they all stopped as if on cue, but one kid, apparently forgetting an unwritten rule, rested one arm against a bulletin board covered with Grade-A student essays while he listened to the visitor. At the risk of creating a fuss, friction or conflict, another student gently touched the kid’s arm and moved it away from the prized essays. The two students exchanged smiles as if to say, “this is the KIPP way,” then gave the visitor their full attention.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Following weeks of English and math drills, tens of thousands of public school students are sweating through another season of Missouri Assessment Program testing. The scores are supposed to help the public figure out, among other things, whether charter schools are as good an investment as traditional public schools.

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