SLPS Calls for Parental Choice … for a Few
“When it comes to your child’s education, one size definitely doesn’t fit all.” That’s a quote from Milton Friedman, right? Wrong. (Although he did say things along those lines.)
I found that quote on the St. Louis Public Schools’ website, in the magnet schools brochure. The brochure lauds magnets for their diversity (because enrollment isn’t limited to a particular neighborhood), unique academics, and specialized instruction. And you’ve got to hand it to them: One of the top public high schools in the St. Louis area — Metro Academic & Classical High School — is a magnet.
So, my question is, if one size doesn’t fit all, why not run the rest of the district on the same model? Under the current system, only a select few have access to magnet school education. Enrollment in the magnets is strictly limited. Although the brochure describes the application process as “simple” and “fair,” it looks anything but. Classes are populated according to a list of four different priority tiers, and African-American city residents are in the lowest tier of all. African-Americans in the county are not even eligible to apply, unlike their white, Asian, or Hispanic neighbors. Even after limiting eligibility by race and residence, applications are entered in a lottery. If you get an unlucky number, you’re stuck in your one-size-fits-all traditional public school.
SLPS seems to recognize that students aren’t all the same. I hope they’ll act on that knowledge and give residents educational choices — or, at least, open a few more magnet schools to meet demand.