(KTVI)- Saturday marks the end of something called National School Choice Week. Supporters of school choice, from Mayor Francis Slay to millionaire St. Louis power broker Rex Sinquefield, claim charter schools and other kinds of school choice can help kids, especially in low income areas. The track record is a little spottier.
A nationwide study of charter schools from Stanford University shows that, across the United States, the average charter school student showed improvements in reading and math equal to kids in traditional public schools. Not better than but simply the same. In St. Louis, the same study showed charters do provide more days of instruction in reading and math than their public school counterparts in the city.
The latest Missouri test results are also a mixed bag. Under those standards, three charter school groups in the city performed with distinction. Another three would be unaccredited because of poor academics. Meanwhile, the St. Louis education landscape is littered with the debris of failed charters, schools that crashed on everything from academics to having money embezzled. In 2012, St. Louis was home to the; largest charter school failure in history when the Imagine Charter Schools were closed, and over five thousand students had to be re-absorbed into the city’s public schools.
More coverage: Closure Of St. Louis Charter Schools Costs $250K
So where does this leave us? Charles asks that question of two experts. Kathleen Sullivan Brown is chair of the Department Of Educational Leadership And Policy Studies at the University Of Missouri-St. Louis. Dr. Brown is a specialist in both state and national school reform movements. James Shuls is director of education policy at the Show-Me Institute, a free market think tank funded in part by Rex Sinquefield. Dr. Shuls is a former elementary school teacher and a specialist in the area of school choice.