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Poll: Readers not keen on open enrollment in public schools

January 27, 2010 Education, Politics/Policy, STL Region, Sunday Poll 6 Comments

A majority of readers in the poll last week were not keen on the idea of open enrollment for Missouri schools (Post: State Senator pushing legislation for open enrollment in Missouri’s public schools).

Q: MO State Senator Jane Cunningham wants “open enrollment” for Missouri’s public schools. For St. Louis this would be

  1. a bad idea: 41 [41%]
  2. a good idea 35 [35%]
  3. unsure 16 [16%]
  4. a neutral idea: 6 [6%]
  5. Other answer… 3 [3%] 1) Didnt this fail with deseg?  2) Something worth exploring.  3) A good idea IF school funding was only from the state. But its not.

The last “other” response may have hit on the key — the source of funding.  But many see open enrollment as removing students from the St. Louis Public Schools.  Parents chimed in via the comments:

  • Wouldn’t such a thing help attract suburban families to city living, since their children could attend schools in the county?
  • Having open enrollment will not get the right parents involved in their children’s education.
  • The city is totally unsustainable without schools that middle class, educated people will send their kids to.
  • Any changes should only include a regionally unified district not the ability to pick and chose districts.
  • I doubt I am long for the city for the schooling reason.
  • Children are not to be used for “social experiments”.
  • My children attend a racially & economically balanced school with high academic achievement, and I live in the only neighborhood in the St. Louis area that offers the walkable, urbane lifestyle I want to have. I believe by virtue of this choice, my children will have a better understanding of the realities of the world than they would if I lived in a typical suburb.

I think the last comment is one of the best on the schools issue.  Middle-class white kids need to learn from an early age how to interact with non-white kids and those from different economic classes.  Their future is one where they will be a minority.  Those who grow up in diverse neighborhoods and attend diverse schools will be better prepared for the future.  I don’t know that open enrollment is the best solution but I know our region needs to have some serious discussions about how better educate all our children.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Funding is not the problem with SLPS, results are! Too many students fail to graduate, and engaged parents are searching for other, better options, and when those options aren't publicly funded, they resent paying twice. Some urban districts seem to have figured out ways to change things – DC comes to mind immediately – we need to either focus on making what we have now work better or be prepared to see public funds redirected to charters and vouchers.

  2. Eric says:

    I went to school in the Clayton district, which in addition to a high proportion of recent immigrants from various countries, is about 15% black as a result of the voluntary transfer program (a smaller proportion of blacks live locally). Despite stereotypes, parts of Clayton are low income (though generally of the “intact family upwardly mobile” variety). Overall, what exactly did I miss out on in terms of diversity?

    • chuck says:

      15% is not much. Just enough to notice they are there, but not enough to impact your life as a student if you chose to ignore them.

  3. bsdeluxe says:

    Very interesting. Out of curiosity, in which neighborhood does the final commenter live, and to which school do they send their children? We should be promoting these schools.

  4. mastacoupe says:

    Honestly the one reason my wife and I live in the county as opposed to the city is because of the school districting issue. We live in the Lindbergh School District, in the working-class suburb of Concord Village (Lindbergh & Tesson Ferry), as suburbs go it's wonderful. We're close to almost all of our neighbors and Concord even has a little downtown you might like to call it within close walking distance…
    But, we both long for city living. We're not catholic and I don't feel comfortable sending my children to parochial education which is by far the most proposed solution of friends and family. St. Louis School District is broken, and it has been broken for a very long time. It may never be able to be fixed. It's a problem with segregation at it's core and unless we do something radical about detaching educational opportunities from economic conditions (especially housing) the system will remain self-perpetuating.
    Open-enrollment just sounds so terribly risky, but maybe it'll do the trick. Nothing else has worked. It honestly could have very positive secondary-effects after what one would assume would be a period of misery, turmoil and pain.

  5. emil says:

    I went to school in a state with mandatory open enrollment – my town was about the size of Joplin and we only had a handful of kids transferring. Most were happy where they were but our high school had the ability to support several full time special education teachers. We were able to take in students with special needs from the entire area and provide more comprehensive services than some of the small county schools.

    I didn't see the special needs student mentioned in any of the comments. http://moeducationreform.org/open-enrollment/op… tells about how hard it is to secure a transfer between school districts. I think it would actually be a huge benefit for special needs students, for their parents to find a school that has the right staff.

    There is no reason to think the sky is going to fall in: it didn't in my home state, it hasn't in the dozen states who let children transfer between districts. I don't think I will stay in the city as is, though I'd love to, unless we move near a magnet or charter school or unless I can choose the school – and change it if I see fit, for my children.


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