St. Louis City Schools: A Guide For Urban Minded Parents, Launches Website

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STL CITY SCHOOLS

“After months of research, making phone calls and onsite visits, it was clear that there are amazing schools of all shapes and sizes here in the city.” It’s true. Perception in St. Louis is often different than reality, especially when considering schools. Now, a new website and online community called STL City Schools aims to fix this, by giving parents easier access to better information.

The site is the product of extensive research by parents for parents. If you have ever tried to navigate existing resources about St. Louis area schools, and St. Louis City schools in particular, you understand the dearth of information. The STL City Schools database includes all schools in the St. Louis Public Schools district (including magnets), as well as city charter schools, and private schools in St. Louis city and county – 275 school options in total.

When someone says that St. Louis City will continue to struggle until it “fixes” its schools, at some level they lack information, and context. There are great options in the city. The quote above is from Angelee Brockmeyer, the parent of three children aged 1 to 4, and a former Chicago Public Schools teacher with a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She and her husband Paul led the effort to create the STL City Schools site.

Now that the site has launched, organizers plan to expand and continually update information, including more parent reviews, school highlights, long-term trends on enrollment and test scores, and information on extracurricular activities. A discussion forum for parents to ask questions and share their experiences, and a blog to report on the latest city education news is planned as well.

The organization – City Parents League of St. Louis – behind the site is a non-profit collection of parents committed to raising their families in the city of St. Louis and “improving the city we love.” They hope that giving parents access to better information about educational options will ultimately lead to more families raising their children in the city of St. Louis.

Perhaps the greatest value of the STL City Schools website is the coherent outline of basic information that can be so difficult to find. From the website:

Understand the 4 Types of Schools

PUBLIC Conventional – 41 Schools
Each neighborhood is serviced by one or more traditional public schools covering Kindergarten to 12th grade, operated by the St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) district, supported by local, state and national tax dollars. Your child is assigned a school based on your address. Like all public schools, these are tuition-free and follow curriculum and evaluation guidelines established by the state of Missouri. LOOK UP YOUR SCHOOL VIEW SCHOOLS

PUBLIC Magnet – 27 Schools
Magnet schools are also (tuition-free) public schools within the SLPS district, but with a couple key differences:

  • Magnet schools don’t have boundaries, and can attract students from any neighborhood in the city (hence the name). This generally results in a more diverse mix of social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds.
  • Each magnet offers something different than a traditional public school, be it emphasis on certain subjects, a particular educational approach, or theme.
  • Some magnets require students to meet certain academic, skill, behavior and/or attendance requirements.
  • Advanced application is required and because of their popularity, spots are allocated by lottery.

PUBLIC Charter – 27 Schools
Charter schools are also public, tuition-free schools and receive public money, however, charter schools are not part of SLPS. Each charter school is governed by an independent school board and adheres to rules defined in its charter. This independence allows each school a lot more freedom in how they operate, the curriculum they choose, and how they serve their students. Some schools have themes and/or a geographic enrollment focus. Advanced application is required and spots are usually allocated by lottery.

PRIVATE 180+ Schools
Private Schools are tuition-based, though almost all offer some form of financial aid. They’re typically run by an independent body (a school board, the Archdiocese, etc.) and because they’re exempt from state oversight and mandated testing, they have the freedom to choose their own standards and educational approach. While the majority (80%) of the private schools in St. Louis have a religious affiliation (over half are Catholic), there are also many nonsectarian schools focusing on a wide variety of methodologies and approaches.

Establish your Priorities
Choosing a school is very personal, and every family will approach the decision differently. With that in mind, here are some questions you’ll want to consider as you identify the most important characteristics of your ideal school:

  • Does your child tend toward a particular learning style? Are particular environments better suited to their needs than others?
  • Are there particular educational methodologies you’re looking for (Montessori, Reggio Emilia, etc.)?
  • Do you value economic and/or racial diversity? How important is it that your child be exposed to students of varying racial backgrounds and income levels?
  • Does the location of the school matter? How far are you willing to drive your child or have them bused?
  • Do you require an extended day program or do you have flexibility in your work schedule to accommodate pick-ups and drop-offs?
  • Is a religious education important to you?
  • Can you afford tuition? Most private schools offer some form of financial aid, but you’ll want to have a good idea of what you can afford.
  • At what age should a school assign homework, and how much is too much?
  • How involved would you like to be as a parent in your child’s school?
  • How important are the are programs like art, music and physical education?
  • Are there particular extracurriculars that you feel are essential for your child (sports, chess, music, debate, etc.)?

It helps to consider each of these before you start your search, then revisit them often as you look at different schools.

Do the Legwork
Always visit the schools. Things may look great on paper, but every school has a different personality, and you’ll want to experience it first-hand before making your decision. Come prepared with questions and if you can’t get answers on the tour, don’t be shy about asking for a contact to follow up with afterward. Do students look happy and engaged in learning? Take note of how you feel when you leave, and trust your parental instincts. The school you pick for your child should make you feel at least a little excited and happy!

Timelines Matter
This process can take a long time. Plan ahead and leave yourself as much time as possible. For instance, applications to the magnet schools are due almost a year in advance of the school year. Put together a timeline right away and make sure the important dates don’t sneak up on you.

  • Tour Dates and Open Houses – Some schools give tours by request, while others require prospective parents to attend scheduled tours or open houses. Check with your target schools and give yourself plenty of time to make your visits.
  • Know what’s involved in each school’s application process. When are the applications due? How much time will it require to gather up the necessary pieces (some require essays, etc.).
  • If the school requires an entrance exam or a gifted evaluation, you’ll want to schedule those sooner rather than later as test spots can fill up as the deadlines approach.
  • If there’s a magnet or charter on your list, read up on how the lottery system works and make note of the important application dates.

Keep your Options Open, and Be Persistent
You are your child’s #1 advocate for a great education. As parents, it’s our responsibility to do everything in our power to fight for our kids. That may mean following up many times to get our questions answered, or hounding someone repeatedly to get a tour scheduled, or to check on the status of an application.

Many of the popular schools now have lotteries and/or wait lists. There is a very real possibility that your child may not get to attend your first choice on your first try. Don’t depend on winning a lottery. Don’t bank on your child attending a gifted school if they haven’t yet tested gifted. Don’t put all your educational eggs in one basket – have contingency plans and stay flexible.

It may take a couple years to end up where you want to be. Stick with it, and be prepared.

You’re not Alone

We meet city parents everyday that have been in your shoes and found places for their children to thrive. St. Louis is on the rise, and the more organized and engaged we are as parents, the more quickly we can improve the educational situation in the city. A cohesive group of parents can quickly turn a good school into a great school through their advocacy and involvement. There’s strength in numbers.

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  • johnny1421

    This article is approaching 3 years old and is the most informative piece about St. Louis city schools I’ve found online. I thought magnet/charter were just interchangeable so glad I’m learning something. Gotta a kid coming this year so I actually need to start researching even though I have a good 4-5 years before I need to send the kid to a school

  • erin nelson

    If you live in St. Louis, I highly recommend sending your child to a private, same-sex high school. See my blog for reasons why: http://stlsame-sexhighschools.weebly.com/

  • matimal

    The intensity of hostile reaction to this says volumes. St. Louis city didn’t just fall from grace, it was pushed by suburban interests who then worked hard to pull the rug out from under St. Louis city again and again. St. Louis’ new, if still modest, appeal to investors and young whites is genuinely threatening to their old game of divide and conquer. How else can you explain such intense hostility to a modest little effort at civic improvement?

    • STLEnginerd

      A little to conspiratorial a take for me. Every one works in their own interest, not against someone else. I reject the notion that the county puppet masters are actively trying to undermine the city. The distinction is important.

      As for the hostility toward the initiative (even though there was only one poster who displayed said hostility) I would tend to attribute to some combination of ignorance, fear, and bigot-ism.

      • matimal

        not at all. the postwar suburban industrial complex was a system of federal subsidies, local zoning, and rigged real estate markets all in support of the growing and powerful middle class. Kenneth Jackson’s Crabgrass Frontier gives a well researched introduce to how it worked and for whom.

        • STLEnginerd

          I’m not saying there aren’t policies in place that hurt cities and in particular St. Louis. I just was pointing out that the way you framed your comment it implied to me at least there was a circle of people in a dark room going how can we destroy St. Louis mwahahahahaha.

          I just think (and you probably do too) that the reality is far less coordinated and more driven by micro decisions that in aggregate create a toxic climate for cities like St. Louis. Micro decision are much harder to counter because they are driven by culture but understanding them is key to combating them.

          • matimal

            It was much more open than people in a dark room. State and federal officials openly planned the massive suburban industrial complex to funnel resources to white suburban locations. For example, the feds would not provide mortgage assistance to poor and/or black neighborhoods until the mid-1960s. Large state and federal grants to build new suburban infrastructure were, of course, paid for by non-suburbanites because they couldn’t become suburbanites until suburban infrastructure was built. The net effect is that people were literally paid by government to move to suburbs. This was not a marginal issue. It was central to suburbanization and a massive transfer of resources from cities to suburbs. The histories are very clear about this. Look up 20th century urban histories on google books to see what they found. Crabgrass Frontier is an older but particularly good history.

          • dempster holland

            AS a former teacher of urban studies, I had occasion to read
            many of the histories of urbanization in America. I found
            many of them biased by the sociological theories rampant
            in the 1960s and 1970s that a “power structure” secretly
            determined the course of urban America. My own analysis
            showed that was not the case and the basic truth was that
            the major factor was a rise in income and the consequent
            movement from apartments to houses. The black migration
            to the suburbs in recent decades was caused by the same
            factors and was hardly planned by the white power
            structure.

          • matimal

            It was the political domination of a growing and increasingly powerful white middle class and they don’t do it secretly. They do it openly for all to see. There was nothing secret about leveling large areas of poor black housing to build expressways and low-rise industrial zones. There is no “micro” without a “macro.” No man is an island and American real estate, transportation, and educational markets are not built on a level playing field. My point is that class interest can work AGAINST suburbia as well as for it. Look at Manhattan. It’s one giant creation of a class of global elites showing us all that they can get what they want. It’s just that not all global capital wants slopping lawns, five-car garages, and racial purity. That should scare those who thought their ‘power structure’ of race, class, and a shared utopian vision of isolation would always give them special access to power.

          • dempster holland

            I think you are correct in noting that a whole series of
            micro decisions shaped the development of metropolitan
            cities since world war 2. I equate it to the theory of the
            commons: a lot of people made individual decisions to im-
            prove their life, only to discover that the net effect was to
            drastically change the city they grew up in.

    • brianstl

      People in the county need to wake up. They have much bigger and more troubling long term problems facing them than the city does. I am for the city reentering the county, because it is in the entire region’s best long term interest. That said, I am beginning to believe that it really is no longer in the city’s best long term interest. I don’t think it will necessarily hurt the city, but it will bring baggage that city residents will end up being partially on the hook for fixing.

  • NL7

    Surprised that the site lists some objective metrics for schools, when available, but lacks any tools to filter or sort. You can sort by educational philosophy, religious doctrine, and a handful of other characteristics, but you can’t shuffle the schools according to performance metrics. I realize it’s overly simplistic to “rank” the schools, but isn’t the point of metrics to find some method to compare schools?

    Very neat website. Always good to synthesize more information in a useful way. I like the map feature.

    • onecity

      Performance – “basic” and “below basic” test scores – corresponds very closely to the % of kids with free/reduced lunch in any school. Which is to say, school performance is really just a proxy for the wealth of the families whose kids attend the schools, and you’ll notice that even most poorer schools will have at least some portion of their student body performing “proficient” or “advanced” as well. If your family and the people you associate with have a strong education culture, your kids are likely to be among the top performing kids. Schools that are considered “failing” aren’t actually failing, in my opinion. They simply have demographics such that a large portion of students are not equipped to succeed. The only way to fix that is to give those kids a new family or peers or a different neighborhood. There is a tipping point at which neighborhoods begin to experience the negative effects of concentrated poverty – about 20% – and I don’t know why it would be any different in a school. I think this is a great initiative, especially if it can help turn the middle class back toward the public schools their taxes pay for. Their lack of direct involvement in the public schools has been just as detrimental as the concentrated poverty of the students left behind. Get middle class families back in the schools, and performance will improve. It really is that simple.

      • NL7

        If the schools and teachers don’t affect a student’s education or performance, then all schools are interchangeable. You might as well pick for location or aesthetics.

        But if schools and teachers do matter, then performance metrics are an attempt to compare their skills across schools. You can dispute specific metrics and data, but it’s difficult to argue that no teachers or schools are any better than others.

        • onecity

          Pretty much – they are fairly interchangeable assuming the same demographics. The performance stats largely act as a proxy for socioeconomics. Thus it isn’t the teachers or schools, but rather the composition of the student body that matters most.

          • dempster holland

            I agree that socio-economic factors are the basic determinant
            of school success. I also think it is very difficult , if not
            impossible, to judge teachers by any metrics; the only real
            way ti judge them would be to sit in their classroom for
            a period of time–an impossible task. This is not to say that
            there are “outliers”–some clearly not competent teachers–
            but these are relatively few

          • NL7

            Well first, that’s pretty clearly wrong. There are plenty of schools full of students on free or reduced lunch who produce statistically higher results, and plenty of suburban schools with students from middle-income families but producing very mediocre results. The correlation between income and measured results is not nearly so monolithic as you suggest.

            If teachers are interchangeable, then doesn’t that imply that teachers are overpaid? If no teachers or schools are better or worse, then any money spent on education (beyond some baseline low level, presumably) produces no difference to the students. Might as well spend that money on something else and pay teachers like babysitters instead of trained professionals.

            I really don’t like the ominous “demographic” determinism that says poor kids are basically just screwed. That’s pretty fatalistic. And again, that suggests that there’s no return on improving schools or paying for good teachers.

  • stldoc

    This website is an absolute wonderful asset. There are a lot of really good and great public schools in the city these days and the numbers keep growing yet I’m always amazed at how many people still do not know this. There is zero reason to flee to the burbs anymore for a good public school. Plus there is variety and options in what type of public school you think is the best for your kids (Montessori schools, Arts and Theatre, Gifted and talented, Spanish, Chinese or French Immersion schools and so forth). I know people that moved into the city specifically for some of these options.

    We toured about a dozen different schools (magnets, charters and a few private) and liked a lot of them. Our oldest is now in Mallinckrodt and his brother will be joining him next year and we are very happy. We choose Mallinckrodt but I do believe we had numerous choices that would have been good schools for our kids and family. Saint Louis City is already on the rise but as more and more families learn about the growing quality public school options in the city, that is when it will really take off.

  • matimal

    An aging hippie/culture warrior college professor of mine used to say, “if you aren’t making people angry, you’re wasting your time!.” He could be annoying, but he was right. “Guest’s” comments suggest the STL City Schools is on to something. Such a petulant and mean-spirited display (from someone who doesn’t even have the guts to identify him or herself) suggests that St. Louis County residents perceive an increasing appeal in the City and are insecure about their position in the metro.
    Keep in up Alex, STL City Schools, and other city supporters. I think you’re on to something potentially very big!

  • Guest

    Here is a list of schools that you may want to consider (link below). Many are in St. Louis county and are well-established and consistently top-rated. If it is not too much of an inconvenience or financially straining, consider moving to St. Louis county in the public school district that you want your child to attend. At the end of the day, your job as a parent is to ensure your child is prepared to take on college.

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/school-district-ratings-show-wide-divisions-within-missouri-districts/article_7f5709b9-5b78-529d-afc3-8bcabf7eb71f.html

    Let me tell you a story. I have a cousin who was required to live in the city by his employer (law enforcement) but had parents that lived in St. Louis county in a top-rated public school district. He did not want to send his boys to St. Louis city public schools so what did he do? The deed to his parent’s house in the county was changed to have his name on it. Then he changed a utility bill to have his name on it as well. These pieces of information were submitted to the elementary school in the county when the kids were enrolled with his parent’s address listed as his address, even though his real house was located in the city. Each and every school day, his wife drove the 2 kids to the public elementary school in the county from their home in the city. The bus dropped the kids off at the grandparent’s house in the afternoon. His wife picked the kids up after she got off from work and returned home to the city. This was a daily routine. They did it because they wanted their kids to have the best public education possible. Eventually, they permanently relocated to the county after selling their house in the city (which took 2 summer seasons on the market–tough to sell) and the employment rule which required him to live the city no longer applied after his years of service in law enforcement.

    Bottom line: There’s a handful of St. Louis county school districts that are really top notch and they are all public. Why settle for less for your child? Try to get your child into one of these top notch public school districts in St. Louis county. Your child deserves a high quality education because it is a human right. If you cannot move out of the city to relocate to the county, then try to find a creative solution. Ahem . . . find someone who lives in the school district in the county that you want to send your child and come up with documents that show that you “rent” a house, room, or apartment along with a utility bill with your name on it. Submit this information to the school when your child enrolls. It’s worth trying to pull it off if it means that your child stands a chance to get a top notch education at a St. Louis county public school.

    If St. Louis city public schools lose their accreditation next year, then expect “all hell to break loose” in the other remaining city schools (charter, magnet, private, parochial). The big reason why SLPS has a “provisional accreditation” label status even though it is truly unaccredited by the numbers is because the district does not want to pay for transferring kids out to other accredited public schools in the county. The label matters in terms of legal obligation but the truth is that many of the city public schools are really unaccredited. Even if your child attends a “provisionally accredited” or “low accredited” school, it may not prepare your child to take on college. This is why I am saying that you should consider finding creative solutions to enroll your child in a well-established, top-notch public school in the county that has demonstrated long-standing and high accreditation. At the end of the day, you need to think of how you are going to give your child the best education in this area. Be proactive and creative.

    • Guest

      Surely, the above reply must be a joke. But if not…

      Firstly, if you’ll reread the headline of the article, it is intended for those who choose to live in the city. In the case that you may not be aware of (and how very strange to be so ignorant of trends that aren’t even all that recent), well educated professionals and creative people overwhelmingly prefer urban living these days and actually cringe at the thought of the lack of diversity, the elitism and boredom of suburbia not to even mention concern of the toll of suburban lifestyle on the environment.

      Secondly, how embarrassing it is to read that someone has the effrontery to “suggest” to someone else where they should live or have their children schooled in such manner. And far worse than that, to actually suggest falsifying an address in order to attend a supposedly “better” school. I’d expect that kind of encouragement from the lowest ranks of society.

      If these sentiments are typical of “your neck of the woods” I very seriously question the “quality” of education (and not necessarily referring to academics) a young mind would be subject to in view of the incredible ignorance displayed in the above reply. Outrageous ignorance.

      • Skool

        People do it all the time, even parents employed in law enforcement in the city. You just did not know about it. This is just an option for families that do not like the public schools in the city where they send their child. Why not try the county public schools, namely the top rated public ones, is what I am saying. Have an open mind and think of the best interest of the child. If I were king for the day, I would have all SLPS students immediately transfer in to the top rated county public schools because I want the very best for them. I am pro-child.

        I have worked in education and know educators that work in the SLPS district. I have seen the “end product” of individuals who passed through the city public educational system. I would advocate this path because at the end of the day, that child or the “end product” needs to function at the college level. If not, that child will have a hard time finding a job in the real world. Look at the many “end products” of SLPS, what kinds of jobs do they have? A college degree is equivalent to the value of a high school degree 20 years ago. If a SLPS graduate cannot muster college, then it means that that city public school failed that child in preparation. There’s too many of them that do not complete college. Who pays for public assistance? Taxpayers do. It is in your economic interest as a taxpayer to have city kids obtain the best education at an affordable price (like public and free in the county).

        I do not care about the false city-county divide or to give the city its desired prestige for its educational system. I only care about that a child receives high quality education to be prepared to function at the college level. What is the dropout rate for college for inner city SLPS graduates? Why does it happen? It is because the child was not prepared to take on college-level work. Failures were made along K-12. Inner city public schools are where those failures tend to occur. It is reality. These graduates tend not to muster college. I am pro-child and seek the best interest of the child. You can make ad hominem (attack the person, me) remarks but the best interest of the child and for society is that child is college-prepared. If not, as a taxpayer, expect to pay for public assistance to support a SLPS graduate that does not have a job.

        The growth of diversity is happening in the county where nonwhites with large family want to be in a traditional, suburban environment to raise their family. Think of Russian, Vietnamese, and Mexican families with 3 generations in a household. You need a large, suburban house for that. Lots of county schools are diverse with children from immigrant families from around the world. There’s diversity in every school district in the county–not just the city.

        What is the track record of graduates of SLPS? Where are they? What do they do? Did they complete college? As taxpayers, we need to know the answer to these questions. Why pay city taxes to a public school system but only have “end products” that cannot muster college. Shut her down if the child is not college-prepared. Taxpayers should not tolerate a city public school system that produced a graduate that will rely on public assistance for most of his or her life.

        • STLEnginerd

          First I doubt any legitimate website that is detailing choice for city residents can advocate what could be construed as fraud as a choice. Public schools have residency requirements which means you have to live there not just pay the bills there.

          Secondly the website is intended to highlight choices within the city. The website is a innovative way to facilitate living in the city for those who wish to so hopefully people won’t feel they need to “cheat”. If none of those choices satisfy you then yes you can move to the county, as you always could. Not sure why you feel the need to highlight it here except to be a arse.

          Thirdly the “top-rated” schools are just that because of demographics. If you were to magically send all the kids in the city to the top rated county schools what makes you think they would stay “top-rated”. Its not the administrators, teacher or facilities, its the kids. There is nothing magic about the county schools other than they are self selecting by the cost of owning property there.

          Its also worth noting the website and it advocates have taken a very POSITIVE approach to this problem. They haven’t set about to trash the county schools or county living. You could learn something from them.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Ridiculous ignorance about the topic of education.

          • Skool

            You can make all the personal, dismissive attacks that you want
            but I have not heard a strong, rational argument to counter. Why do you want to support with your taxpayer dollars a failed city public school system that fails to turn out college-prepared graduates?

            I’m not ignorant at all. I’ve worked in education. I’ve interviewed many school principals in the metro East and in St. Louis. I’ve seen the “end products” of area STL city and north county public schools in my own classroom. Many had k-12 failures along the way but were pushed along. Many were not college-prepared with very poor basic reading and writing, critical thinking, and math skills. I would advocate to give the best education to any child as early as possible, regardless of their background.

            Keep track of those city kids from private, parochial, public, charter, and magnet and see where they end up in life. Then ask yourself if you got a return on investment from your city taxpayer dollars that went to those specific taxpayer-funded schools. The more you give the “provisionally accredited” label when, in fact, SLPS is truly “unaccredited”, it only hurts those kids that are getting ripped off. If you keep SLPS children down and deprived of a good education because you need their families to stay in the district to render up the taxpayer dollars to the city to save the city, then that’s a system that is destined to fail. Don’t save the city, save the children. Who cares how long the bus ride is to the county or the associated pollution from bus gas exhaust. Wake up to what is really important–a child that is prepared to complete college. You want the “end product” to be a child that is college-ready and will succeed in obtaining a college degree. I don’t care who gets the credit (the city schools or the county schools).

            If you don’t agree, then continue to fund with your wasted taxpayer dollars a STL city public school system that is labeled “provisionally unaccredited” but is truly “unaccredited” and does not turn out college-ready.

            Think carefully for what you are truly advocating for Alex. It may not be such a good idea. Are you advocating for the child’s education? Or, are you advocating just to fill the coffers of STL city by having residents pay into a failing city public school district but allowing a good number of children to NOT be college-ready? Find out how many obtained college degrees that previously attended SLPS. Focus on what is truly important.

          • Alex Ihnen

            You’re having a different discussion than anyone else here, and ignoring other’s comments. You appear to want to talk about, above all else, funding SLPS. If you live in the city, you help fund the schools, not just if your child attends a city public school. So are you advocating for everyone to move out of the city? Not work in the city? Not buy anything in the city? You can, that’s just not a particularly coherent or rational argument. With St. Louis, St. Charles is a suburb of no where.

            Anyway, this is becoming rather incoherent because the website and this post is about helping those who enjoy living in the city, or for whatever reason want to explore schools in the city, to do so. How awful, I guess. The top rated high school in the state in a public city school. The system has significant problems, no doubt, but for those who care to explore, there are good options. This is why your comments here are rather ridiculous. I probably shouldn’t be surprised that someone would spend a couple thousand words to tell others they’re that their efforts are a waste, and that their beliefs and experiences are invalid, but I am. This website is meant to be a open forum, but a constructive one. As this (and other) comments add zero to the discussion, I’ll likely delete them.

          • matimal

            Alex, Skool is not interested in St. Louis, he’s interested in hurting St. Louis. As you point out, those are two very different things. I think Ferguson has put the county on edge. They see their weaknesses more clearly and are starting to see the city’s strength. Take it as a sign of changing fortunes. ‘If you aren’t upsetting people, you’re wasting your time!”

          • Guest

            Alex, this is only typical rhetoric from those who can’t/won’t see the value of our wonderful city. They want it all “out there”.

            So, what kind of person would rob and steal from, lie, deceive and cheat their own mother for personal gain? These people are like self serving brats waiting and drooling for mother to finally die so they can possess her wealth. It’s outrageous in it’s ignorance because it’s suicidal in the end. But their incredible greed has blinded them and sadly, they fail to see the comparison. They’ve become so good at offering their reasons why mother shouldn’t have proper, competent care they’ve championed innocent supporters through their deceit.

            I’d say to them, “Okay, so you don’t love your mother. That’s your business and it’s really none of mine. But if you try to kill her you have exactly what’s coming to you, and if I see any indication that you intend harm to her I’ll say something”.

            Funny, but the many cities that have come from behind and passed us up and left us in the dust don’t seem to have such ignorance to deal with.

            Sorry, somewhat off topic, but I feel this really needs to be addressed, and to me, the discussion kind of opened that up.

          • onecity

            You know what’s a ripoff? Paying $500k for a house in Ladue or Clayton so your kid can attend school there. The schools in Clayton and Ladue are not better in any absolute sense, they just have the good fortune of having a student body composed of affluent-to-wealthy families, with a very small portion of poor families in the mix. So why should people live in the city and send their kids to its schools? Because that is how you build a first-class city. One way you don’t build a first-class city is by telling folks “just send your kids to Catholic schools,” because that is a joke, and it erodes the city. As is expecting people to move to far-flung, car-dependent burbs with practically no cultural amenities or reason for existing besides their proximity to STL.

          • dempster holland

            Much of the stability of city neighborhoods for the past century
            has come from Catholic parishes and their grade schools.

          • onecity

            You can choose to think that. Those neighborhoods would have been a lot more stable, and recent progress would have occurred a lot more quickly if those people had been using, and investing their time and resources in public schools all along. Because then they wouldn’t have to try to sell newcomers past all the convoluted BS you have to deal with today. I mean, waiting lists, Lotteries, paying for K-12 on top of taxes? Seriously? Put another way, in neighborhoods that are and have largely been middle class, why should the public schools even be a problem? It doesn’t compute. That choice – to send their children to pay-to-play schools, has come back to bite the city in the ass in so many ways, because in the process they destroyed the school system by depriving it of exactly the families that were necessary for the schools to thrive and thus made the city repellent to exactly the kind of families necessary for the city to thrive. I have little empathy for them, and no respect for their choices.

          • dempster holland

            So much for diversity which makes urban living so attractive

          • onecity

            Some diversity is good, some is bad. Treating all diversity as equal is false equivalence, especially in the matter of school choice. We can see, every single day, the effect of siphoning families with time/cash/education out of SLPS. SLPS would be a pretty solid district without all the divvying up of the prospective student body into magnets, charters, and the various pay-to-opt-out-of-civic-life options out there.

          • jhoff1257

            “Why do you want to support with your taxpayer dollars a failed city public school system that fails to turn out college-prepared graduates?”

            Interesting. I went to a well respected university in Kansas City and some of my best friends were products from the St. Louis Public School System. Hell, some of them even finished before I did and I went to a private elementary school and a private high school in West St. Louis County.

            How do you explain that?

          • Alex Ihnen

            Inexplicable.

    • matimal

      An aging hippie/culture warrior college professor of mine used to say, “if you aren’t making people angry, you’re wasting your time!.” He could be annoying, but he was right. “Guest’s” comments suggest the STL City Schools is on to something. Such a petulant and mean-spirited display (from someone who doesn’t even have the guts to identify him or herself) suggests that St. Louis County residents perceive an increasing appeal in the City and are insecure about their position in the metro.
      Keep in up Alex, STL City Schools, and other city supporters. I think you’re on to something potentially very big!

    • cngrant

      If a parent living in the City voluntarily sends their child to a school
      in the City, because they like the school, are they anti-child? Trying
      to distinguish yourself as “pro-child” is a red herring. We all want
      better schools. The question is how to achieve that goal. Some would
      say that committing to City schools and trying to fix them – by hiring better
      administrators, providing teachers with more training and mentoring,
      updating the cirriculum, providing better resources to children — is a better solution than running away from them. But, I recognize that all parents
      make their own decisions, and don’t begrudge any parent for the personal
      decision they make.

    • Alex Ihnen

      This is so unfortunately misguided. First, I think you’re probably advocating that people break the law – that’s a nice lesson for the kids. Second, putting your kids in a car every day is likely the most dangerous thing you can do for them. Third, viewing all city public schools as the same is exactly the kind of ignorance this site dispels. But yes, if you want your child to attend a school with relatively high test scores, in what is likely a very homogeneous economic and racial setting, sit in the car for 5%+ of their waking day, and break the law while doing it, by all means. I couldn’t be more disgusted by the paternalistic narrow-mindedness displayed in the anonymous comment above.

  • matimal

    Great initiative. If people see that cities offer greater choice than suburbs, they will find ways to overcome the challenges.