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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

State takeover will not solve problems

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Let's say you have a school district with 32,000 students. But 13,000 of those students will never graduate from high school. Of the 19,000 who do graduate, just half will take a college entrance examination. And of that number, just 12 percent - or less than 2,300 students - will score average or higher on that college entrance exam.

By any definition, that is a dismal record.

Let's say you're in the same school district and you find out that students pass just four of 14 performance standards on statewide tests. You find that the district fails miserably in the areas of math, graduation rates and college placement.

As a parent of a student within that district would you not demand changes? But ironically, that is exactly the predicament of the St. Louis Public Schools yet civil rights groups are up in arms over a state takeover of the district that was announced this week.

I surely must be missing something here because it makes no sense what so ever.

The Missouri State Board of Education this week moved to takeover the district and bring some sanity to the troubled district. Students and parents fear the state move will kill their chance of college scholarships because the district no longer is accredited. But state university officials say that's not the case.

The St. Louis schools have gone through countless superintendents and more money than you can imagine. Yet despite massive rebuilding, test scores and graduation rates remain pitiful. Some parents and teachers are calling for new leadership but they can't explain why leadership changes in the past have failed. Here's the sad irony in this issue. The leaders and teachers within that district will be blamed for much of the lack of progress but everyone knows, they are clearly not to blame. Fingers will be pointed at the state for their lack of additional funding, but they are clearly not to blame. Some leaders within the community will point the finger at inadequate buildings but that is clearly not the blame.

The parents of these failing students should shoulder all of the blame. In a culture that puts no premium on education, you cannot expect teachers or leaders or buildings or funding to solve your problem.

The problem began at home and at home is the only place the problem will be solved.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen