Missouri Commissioner of Education Names Special
Advisory Committee on St. Louis Public Schools
Commissioner of Education D. Kent King on Thursday appointed five Missourians to a special committee that will help find solutions to the continuing turmoil in the St. Louis Public Schools. King announced the appointments during a meeting of the State Board of Education in Jefferson City.
Since the abrupt resignation of the school district's superintendent two weeks ago, King said there have been calls for various types of intervention by state education officials in the operations of the school district.
"Under current law, we can consider various levels of intervention in the school district. However, I would like to give the new administration and the school board some breathing room so they can stabilize the district and prepare for the opening of school on August 28.
"I am grateful to these five citizens for their willingness to help the State Board of Education and the St. Louis Public Schools through this difficult time," King said. The following individuals have agreed to serve on the committee:
Dr. William H. Danforth, Chancellor Emeritus
Washington University, St. Louis
Mrs. Frankie M. Freeman, Attorney
Mr. Ned Lemkemeier, Attorney
Mr. Michael Middleton, Deputy Chancellor
University of Missouri-Columbia
Dr. Donald Suggs, Publisher
St. Louis American newspaper
Dr. Danforth and Mrs. Freeman will co-chair the committee. They currently serve as co-chairs of the St. Louis Community Monitoring and Support Task Force. Mr. Lemkemeier is a member of the task force. The task force was created by the federal court to oversee implementation of the January 1999 settlement agreement in the St. Louis desegregation case.
Commissioner King said he will ask the committee to gather information and make recommendations on the following topics:
Analyzing the district's academic performance and identifying steps the district must take to regain full accreditation.
Reviewing issues related to the desegregation settlement agreement, governance of the district, and the district's accreditation status.
Clarifying the financial condition of the school district.
Clarifying the primary concerns of parents and community residents about the governance and operations of the district.
Recommending potential changes in state law concerning the state's involvement with the school district.
"The district's accreditation status will be determined this fall by the State Board of Education, based largely on the academic performance of St. Louis students during 2005-06. I am not optimistic that we will see improved test scores this year," King said. The district is currently "provisionally accredited" under state standards.
"In the meantime, I hope this committee will help reduce tensions in the St. Louis community and help all parties restore their focus on the common goal of providing a safe and positive learning environment for children.
"We do not have a goal of taking over Missouri's largest school district. That is a drastic measure, and we would rather spend our energy on improving education for the students. The St. Louis board of education, however, must find a way to restore stable and effective leadership for the district. If it cannot do so, we will not hesitate to intervene on behalf of the students, parents and teachers," King said.
Tags: St. Louis Public Schools, School Board, Education Reform, Education Policy, Student Achievement, Urban Education, K-12, Public School Education, Education, Missouri, Education by Sistrunk