Who’s who in school district transfer mess

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(KPLR) – In Wednesday's Jacology, Charles Jaco looks at the cast of characters in the school transfer mess.

It's true in life, and true in the school transfer situation, the only innocent people here are the children. Riverview Gardens and Normandy schools have lost their accreditation, leaving 12-thousand students stuck in the middle. The process of transferring kids is like a lasagna, with different layers of indifference, trickery and racism bubbling to the surface. So called school reform advocates are using this as an excuse to dismantle public education. The governor and state legislature could care less.

All this is the doing of adults. Let's start with the old administrators and officials in Normandy and Riverview Gardens. In many cases, they often seemed to care more about money, perks, and jobs than they did about the kids. They helped drive the districts into the ground. For a lot of these low-income African American kids, a diploma is their last chance to grab at the brass ring of anything like the American dream. The adults who were indifferent robbed them of that chance.

Then we have the state legislature, which passed the law allowing students from unaccredited districts to transfer, twenty years ago. Maybe it's because so many members of the legislature are enemies of public schools. Maybe it’s because the kids involved tend to be black and come from families with no money, no influence and often, no interest in educating their kids. But the leg refuses to fix this by pouring extra resources into failing schools. And Missouri’s democratic governor seems to follow the lead of the GOP legislature and not be too interested.

The new superintendents and administrators in Riverviw Gardens and Normandy seem to mean well. But when they were required to provide free bus transportation to one district for students who wanted to leave, .they chose either one in St. Charles County and another 22 miles away in south county. In both cases, the choice seems to be about one thing, keeping kids from transferring by only offering free bus rides only to far away districts where some black students might not feel welcome.

School choice advocates on the payroll of libertarian millionaire Rex Sinquefield are using this as an excuse to try and dismantle entire public school districts. The state education department is offering guidelines, but not much help. And as always, it's the public school students themselves who seem to be left at the bottom of the ladder by just about everyone involved.

I'm Charles Jaco and that's Jacology.

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Email: charles.jaco@tvstl.com