St. Louis City
Rigor of top St. Louis Public Schools is bringing results
Within the walls of the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience is a success story taking shape in St. Louis Public Schools.
It’s captured on a slip of paper inside the main office: math scores that outdid Ladue, Clayton and Marquette high schools in St. Louis County this past spring. Upstairs, in a pathophysiology class, freshmen and sophomores work on a year-long project to solve the murder of a fictional character, using a fusion of math and science. In another classroom, they’re learning Latin.
But not just anyone can get into the school.
Collegiate is among a growing group of campuses within St. Louis Public Schools that restrict admission to those who can meet and maintain certain standards. At Collegiate, it’s a high bar — with a 3.0 grade-point average among the requirements. Other schools are less selective.
I’m really surprised that a high school that can cherry pick is doing better than comprehensive public high schools in good districts. Now if the Ladue, Clayton and Rockwood districts set up similar cherry picking high schools, they would be by far the best in the state.
But selective-admission schools also can present challenges. In any urban district, they can create a tiered system that concentrates a city’s top students in a few schools, leaving the most challenged students in the rest of the buildings.
When asked if there was danger in isolating some of the best students in a few district schools, Adams said no. The selective requirements help create schools that provide better environments for students serious about learning, he said. “We’re taking kids who really want to do well, and we’re pushing them, and we’re encouraging them to do well.”
City parents have a growing list of public schools scoring high on Missouri’s annual performance report. Among them: City Garden Montessori, Lift for Life Academy High School, North Side Community School, Gateway Science Academy and KIPP: Inspire. These schools have no entrance requirements, through critics often accuse them of “creaming” the best students.
Translating this into readable English:
The gentrification of the City of St. Louis won’t be a viable long-term success unless people have confidence in the public schools, either the real ones or the quasi-ones (charters). But that’s a very hard row to hoe when the SLPS is around 85-90% black. So the work around is to create enough selective public schools and as many supposedly non-selective but substantively selective charter schools to fulfill the demand for the kids of the cognitive elite (Collegiate, Metro, CJA, et al.) or the ambitious of average-ish IQ (KIPP), and leave the regular public schools for the stupid slugs on the left half of the bell curve. No use casting pearls before swine, n’est pas? And of course Kelvyn Adams, the current SLPS Superintendent, isn’t worried one bit. First off, he needs some high performing schools within his currently unaccredited district to hang his hat on. Second, nothing bad will ever come his way for doing this. Disparate impact lawsuits? What disparate impact lawsuits? As long as the children of the Revvunds get admitted into the elite schools, you won’t have to worry about that. Of course, a lot of the Revvunds live in St. Louis County anyway, so the City and its education issues are not a problem for them.
Now, we’ll know St. Louis has arrived if the day ever comes that we have private selective admissions kindergartens that use IQ or other g-loaded tests as a criterion, and the parents of those lucky enough to get admitted get to pay $40,000 a year tuition bills.