Mike Jones

St. Louis Public Schools

In 2007, the St. Louis Public Schools were placed under the control of a three-member appointed board. Its assignment was to fix problems in finance, governance and academic achievement.

The district has made progress in all three areas. A deficit became a surplus, infighting among board members has turned into civility, if not always unanimity, and student test scores have made steady gains. On its most recent state report card, the district, which was once unaccredited, scored solidly in the range for full accreditation.

St. Louis Public Schools

After a lively discussion, the Missouri state school board agreed Tuesday to convene a meeting that could lead to the St. Louis Public Schools returning to the control of an elected school board.

Since 2007, the city schools have been under the authority of a three-member appointed Special Administrative Board. Since the schools scored solidly in the full accreditation range on their most recent state report card, talk has increased about when the switch back to the elected board could occur.

school buses

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri state board of education unanimously approved on Tuesday a framework for an accelerated review of the accreditation status of the Riverview Gardens School District.

But a key question that hangs over the whole process remains unsettled: What happens to students who have transferred from the district under state law if its status is upgraded?

Mike Jones
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

The Politically Speaking podcast duo welcomes veteran Democrat Mike Jones as this week’s guest for a particularly lively show that focuses on education and black leadership.

A graduate of Beaumont High School and UMSL, Jones currently sits on the state Board of Education.

Principal GeNita Williams presents certificates to eighth graders at Normandy Middle School
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The promotion ceremony for 205 eighth graders at Normandy Middle School featured the usual words of encouragement and advice, plus memories of the past three years and more than a few hoots and hollers from family supporters.

But first, they got an apology.

Mike Jones, vice president of the Missouri state board of education, told the students that he realized the efforts by education officials in Jefferson City to help Normandy haven’t always succeeded. The district remains unaccredited and is finishing up its first year being run by a state-appointed board.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

As problems with student learning persist in the Normandy school district, and lawmakers in Jefferson City appear to oppose a cap on tuition paid for student transfers, the vice president of the Missouri state board of education said the end of the district could be close.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh and St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jo Mannies on Dec. 18, 2014, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

Aside from the color of his skin, a longtime aide portrays soon-to-depart St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley as a man who fit the traditional mold of the job that he held for over a decade.

“Fundamentally, his legacy is that he was a solid, fundamentally status-quo executive, much in the tradition of his predecessors,’’ said senior advisor Mike Jones, who served for most of Dooley’s 11-year tenure in the county’s top governmental job.

Mike Jones talks with education commissioner Chris Nicastro.
File photo: Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

When Chris Nicastro was chosen as Missouri’s education commissioner in 2009, her experience with school districts in north St. Louis County was cited as a big factor.

Now, as the Missouri state board of education prepares to interview five finalists to succeed Nicastro, they have a list of four white men who have been superintendents in Joplin, Branson, Springfield and Wentzville, plus a white woman who has been actively involved in north county as deputy commissioner but has never served as a superintendent.

Mike Jones, addressing the County Council earlier this year
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

On Aug. 14, Mike Jones wrote in the St. Louis American that black leaders have failed those they represent.

In his commentary, the senior policy adviser for County Executive Charlie Dooley and a member of the State Board of Education wrote: 

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council authorized up to $1 million to be spent to help Ferguson residents pay for expenses incurred during nearly two weeks of unrest.  

Without opposition, the council authorized the county to spend up to $1 million to help Ferguson residents who felt the impact of riots and looting. For more than two weeks, the city was under almost constant turmoil after Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown earlier this month.

Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

What lessons can be learned from the killing of Michael Brown and its aftermath in Ferguson?

For three hours Wednesday night, several panels discussed that question and more at “A community in turmoil,” a symposium at Harris-Stowe State University. Not surprisingly, given the setting, a lot of the answers had to do with education, on campus and on the streets.

And in many cases, speakers said it will be the young teaching the old, not the other way around.

Mike Jones, addressing the County Council earlier this year
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

The following was written for the St. Louis American, which posted it on Aug. 14.

I got a call Monday from the Political EYE to discuss the murder of Michael Brown. I know that's a harsh judgmental description of this tragic event without benefit of all the facts and any official findings, but as a product of the sixties I know you don't always need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.

DESE website

Before he gave the oath of office to the five appointed members of the new board of the Normandy Schools Collaborative Tuesday, state school board vice president Mike Jones also gave them some advice.

First, he told them that what they are doing is not community service, it is public service.

The difference?

“The community is always grateful for your service,” Jones said. “The public always is not.”

Then, he noted that while the Missouri state school board may have confirmed their appointments, the big job ahead is theirs.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

A top aide to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley unleashed scathing criticism Tuesday at his boss’ Democratic rival for county executive. 

It was part of yet another highly charged county council meeting filled with arguments, insults, recriminations and heated confrontations.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: JEFFERSON CITY -- With more than 2,500 students in unaccredited school districts in St. Louis County transferring elsewhere this fall, and the possibility of more transferring out of Kansas City schools, Missouri education officials have hired an outside consultant to help failing districts improve and prevent others from losing accreditation.

Mike Jones, Senior policy advisor to St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley, has been nominated to the Missouri state Board of Education.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced his nomination via press release today.


St. Louis is one big step closer to securing a potentially lucrative trade partnership with China.

The Midwest-China Hub Commission announced today that China Eastern Airlines has agreed to open up talks with Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

The step signals that the plan has moved out of the plausibility phase and into a logistical phase.