Desegregation

school buses
Flickr

After area school superintendents voted Friday to phase out the current race-based student transfer program – and possibly replace it with a new one down the road – those who have been part of the program so far cited a lot of reasons it should continue.

Harlan Hodge, a city resident who graduated in 1992 from Parkway North High School, put his experience this way:

“The kids at our school, the teachers lovingly embraced us the same way they have everywhere else. It really became about excellence. I’m as committed to Parkway as I was 25 years ago when I started. I believe in the school district. I believe in teachers. I believe in our education. It was a great experience.”

KB35 | Flickr

If the voluntary student transfer program that has served more than 70,000 St. Louis area students over more than 30 years is going to continue beyond 2036, it probably will be based on a factor other than race.

At a meeting Friday, the board that oversees the program is expected to approve a final five-year extension that would begin phasing out the transfers in the 2023-24 school year. Students who begin kindergarten that year could remain through high school graduation.

LeDiva Pierce with her daughters Alfreida (left) and Unique. Pierce is one of two charter school parents seeking to intervene as plaintiffs in St. Louis Public School's dispute with the state over funding.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Aug. 10 with appeal — Two St. Louis charter school parents are renewing their effort to have a say in a lawsuit that could change the way public schools are funded in the city.

LeDiva Pierce and Ken Ross Jr. filed an appeal Wednesday to join a suit against the state of Missouri by St. Louis Public Schools.

Edmund Lee
provided by family

Updated July 19 with response to judge's ruling— A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against St. Louis’ voluntary desegregation program.

La’Shieka White sued the program because her son, who is black, is barred from attending a city charter school now that her family has moved to Maryland Heights. Her suit called the program’s race-based restrictions unconstitutional.

comedy nose | Flickr

Eligibility requirements and classes geared for special interests and abilities apparently are not enough of an attraction for some parents with other options at their disposal when faced with St. Louis Public Schools’ overall tarnished reputation.

The district has more than 1,400 open slots for students to enroll in its choice and magnet high schools for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.

school buses
Flickr

School officials could extend the life of St. Louis’ interdistrict desegregation program indefinitely by switching from racial to economic transfer criteria. 

That is the consensus of education and legal experts here and around the country. 

school buses
Flickr

The end isn’t near for the area’s long-running school desegregation program, but it’s coming.

Area school superintendents in charge of the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corp. , which has run the program since a 1999 settlement established new rules the St. Louis-St. Louis County student transfers, are weighing one final five-year extension to the plan, taking it through the 2023-24 school year. They met Thursday to discuss the plan, with a final vote expected later this year.

St. Louis Public Schools

Updated at 12:50 p.m. June 1 with response from St. Louis Public Schools: Two parents who say their children have thrived in charter schools after struggling in St. Louis Public Schools want to have their voices heard in a lawsuit that could force charters in the city to lose tens of millions of dollars.

The parents filed a motion in federal court Tuesday asking to intervene in the lawsuit filed in April by the city public schools against the way proceeds from a 1999 city sales tax for education has been distributed by the state.

Tax credits | Flickr

Two days before St. Louis voters would decide the fate of a small sales tax increase to pay for school desegregation in 1999, the woman who started the effort to get  better schools for black students asked city voters to take a “leap of faith” and back the tax.

“Without a source for funding,” Minnie Liddell wrote in a letter to the Post-Dispatch with her attorney, William Douthit, “the agreement becomes an empty set of promises, unrealized goals and positive educational outcomes that might have been.”

The tax hike, two-thirds of a penny, won big. Now it’s back in the public eye, in a dispute over who should benefit from its proceeds.

La'Shieka White talks about the lawsuit involving her son, Edmund Lee, on May 4, 2016. Attorney Joshua Thompson is at left.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

A black third-grader's effort to continue at his St. Louis charter school even though his family has moved to St. Louis County has gone to federal court.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, based in California, announced Wednesday that it had filed the lawsuit seeking to reverse long-standing provisions of the area-wide school desegregation settlement that bars African-American students living in the county from transferring to city public schools, including charters.

Pruitt-Igoe, with the Vaughn Housing Complex at right
U.S. Geological Survey

A researcher with the Economic Policy Institute says the federal government needs to recognize that it played a deliberate role in creating racially segregated neighborhoods in cities like St. Louis.

At a Missouri History Museum Symposium Saturday, the think tank’s Richard Rothstein drew a direct line between today’s segregated schools and neighborhoods and two federal housing programs from the 1930s, 40s and 50s: public housing and subsidized construction.

Edmund Lee
provided by family

Headlines screamed the basics: A 9-year-old St. Louis boy will be barred from remaining at the school he loves, just because he is black.

The stories fed outrage across the nation and around the world and fueled an online petition that now has more than 90,000 signatures, imploring Missouri education officials to change the rules and make things right.

Edward T. (Tad) Foote II helped start New City School, worked on desegregation plan and headed the Washington University School of Law.
Provided by the University of Miami

Edward T. Foote II was a fellow who took on extraordinarily complex problems and proceeded to solve them, sometimes leaving friends and family wondering how he successfully navigated such dangerous waters, and just as often, secretly wondering why he took on the jobs he did.

Mr. Foote, formerly of St. Louis, died Monday in a nursing home in Cutler Bay, Fla., of complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 78 years old.

The third annual Shakespeare in the Streets starts Sept. 16.
Shakespeare in the Streets

Each Shakespeare in the Streets production starts the same way: Interviewing people in the community where the play will be performed.

“We never know what play we’re going to adapt; we never know what we’re going to find,” playwright Nancy Bell said. This is the third year for the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis program.

“We find out why (residents) live there, why they came, why they left and what they want,” director Alec Wild said. This year, those interviews led to Clayton High School.

Provided by SLU Law School

Nearly 60 years after school segregation was outlawed, two members of the family most associated with the case say that the St. Louis area student transfers show that the true goals of the Supreme Court's ruling remain unfulfilled.

Linda Brown Thompson and Cheryl Brown Henderson, whose Topeka, Kan., family was the lead plaintiff in the landmark 1954 ruling, told an audience at Saint Louis University law school Friday that their case was more about equality of resources and opportunity than simply letting black and white students sit together.

(Courtesy Lisa Thompson/Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

This fall more than 2,500 students climbed on board buses and into taxis leaving the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens Districts for accredited districts in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties.

The migration began after a ruling this June by the Missouri Supreme Court, which upheld a controversial state law.

It just so happens that the two unaccredited districts are predominantly African-American, and the districts chosen to receive them are largely white.

As St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports that’s drawn some comparisons to an earlier time.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon The topic of race was everywhere and nowhere in the room recently when Francis Howell School District officials hosted a town hall meeting about plans to accommodate students wishing to transfer from the failing Normandy School District.

(Flickr/Cast a Line)

Suburban St. Louis districts will continue to accept black students who transfer from the St. Louis city district through a program that grew out of a desegregation case.

(Julie Linder/St. Louis Public Schools)

For the first time in a decade, the St. Louis Public Schools will be debt-free.

Superintendent Kelvin Adams announced today that the district has entered an agreement with the plaintiffs in a 1972 case over the district's segregation policies that frees up $96 million for debt reduction and district operations.