Education - Essay
Interdistrict Choice for Students in Failing Schools: Burden or Boon? Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In June of 2013, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a state law that allowed students in unaccredited school districts to transfer to nearby accredited districts. The student’s home district would be responsible for making tuition payments and providing transportation. Using data, firsthand accounts, and structured interviews with school district superintendents, this paper examines what happened in response to the transfer program. Specifically, it examines how the districts responded. In all, more than 2,000 students transferred from the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts, roughly a quarter of the total student population. These students transferred to two dozen area school districts. Except in isolated cases, evidence suggests that these students were largely absorbed into receiving school districts without causing much disruption. For the unaccredited school districts, however, the transfer program had a profound impact on school finances. 

Are Education And Economic Growth Related? Print E-mail
By Rik W. Hafer   
Monday, June 23, 2014

If there is a positive relationship between state-level education and economic growth, the policy debate about how and why we should improve educational outcomes in Missouri takes on an even greater importance.

Available Seats? Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Sunday, January 12, 2014

Throughout Missouri, many families find that the district-run public schools in their area simply are not the best option for their children. It seems clear that families want choices. This essay examines the data on what parents want, what private schools can supply, and how much taxpayers could save.

The Power To Lead: Analysis Of Superintendent Survey Responses Regarding Teacher Tenure Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D. and Kacie Barnes   
Monday, August 19, 2013

Of all the decisions an employer must make, none may be as important as staffing. This does not just include who they hire, but also who they fire. An effective leader should be able to identify those who are not performing at an acceptable level, work with that individual to help them improve, and terminate him or her when necessary. But what if state law does not provide such flexibility? What if the employer is required to give the employee 90 working days to improve before finally being able to dismiss the employee and replace him or her with a higherquality employee? That type of regulation does not seem optimal for a business’ success, but it is exactly the position in which Missouri school leaders find themselves. In many instances, these restrictions limit the power principals and superintendents have to effectively lead their schools.

Redefining Public Education Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Friday, July 26, 2013

Show-Me Institute Education Policy Analyst, James Shuls, PhD, takes a look at the impact of De La Salle Middle School on education in St. L ouis, MO. Shuls' analysis considers a broader definition of public education that is focused on educating the public at large, not just those who attend publicly financed schools.

Public Dollars, Private Schools: Examining the Options in Missouri Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Friday, April 26, 2013

“Isn’t that just a voucher?” I often hear that question when I discuss enabling students to use public dollars to attend private schools. This question is an attempt to do two things: (1) lump all forms of state-supported private school choice programs into one group and (2) dismiss these programs with a word that to some has a negative connotation. Labeling all programs that give students the ability to attend a private school with state money a “voucher” may be an effective rhetorical device, but it obfuscates the important distinctions that exist between different types of programs. Even worse, it ignores the potential benefits private school choice programs can bring to students and the state.

The Salary Straitjacket: The Pitfalls Of Paying All Teachers The Same Print E-mail
By James V. Shuls, Ph.D.   
Monday, October 29, 2012

Imagine a school in which the highest prize for academic achievement went to the student who had been there the longest. Though it seems ridiculous to reward students in this manner, this is exactly how school districts reward teachers — by longevity. Teachers by and large are paid on a single salary schedule. These schedules not only fail to reward teachers based on their quality, but they fail to recognize that teaching different subjects and grade levels requires different skill sets and that those particular skill sets are in varying demand in the marketplace. For instance, there are reportedly 3.1 jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for every one unemployed person in Missouri. In comparison, there is only 1 non-STEM job for every 3.7 unemployed people. This means teachers with strong backgrounds in math and science may have more, higher-paying options outside of teaching. This is a reality we must address.

City Managers and County Seats: Differences Between Kansas City and Saint Louis Governments Print E-mail
By David Stokes   
Thursday, December 22, 2011

Missouri’s two largest cities, and their related primary counties, have chosen substantially different systems of local government. The stark differences between Saint Louis and Kansas City stand out, even though it is common for larger cities within the same state to have different government structures.1 These differences among the governments of Kansas City and Jackson County, and Saint Louis City and the neighboring, but separate, Saint Louis County, are both obvious and subtle. In fact, the few similarities are rare enough to be notable by that reason (similarity) alone.



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Podcast 1: Interdistrict Choice
May 7, 2015

With both Normandy and Riverview Gardens Policy Researcher Brittany Wagner and Distinguished Fellow James Shuls, Ph.D., talk about the impact of...

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