Don’t Tell Anyone, But That’s the Point

23 01 2017

Botanical Heights

Let’s shovel the bullshit.

P-D:

Some St. Louis charter schools worry their popularity threatens diversity

That’s the point, just between you, me and the gatepost.

A few of the city’s charter schools are becoming so popular that they’re struggling to stay accessible to low-income families.

That’s true for City Garden Montessori and Lafayette Preparatory Academy, where neighborhood construction and the schools’ own success have more parents competing to enroll their children. In the process, needy minority students are being edged out, as more seats go to children from more affluent white families.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Leaders of City Garden and Lafayette always intended the charter schools to be diverse alternatives to St. Louis Public Schools.

“It wasn’t supposed to be this way.”  But isn’t it strange it worked out that way?

“We expect kids to grow up and be prepared to participate in a world that’s becoming more diverse,” said Bill Kent, president and CEO of The Biome, a diverse new charter school in the Central West End. “Yet in many cases, when kids come from low-income communities, we often educate them in isolation.”

So the three schools are working on a way charter schools can create their own income integration programs.

The key component of that effort is working to persuade the Missouri Legislature to grant charter schools more control over who they can admit. The Missouri Charter Public School Association is helping to draft a bill that would let charter schools designate a percentage of enrollment spots for students from low-income families.

Okay, you give charters “more control over who they can admit,” the same charters that, as you will read momentarily, and as you already know, make their admissions process so convoluted that it, by itself, acts to weed out the worst of the black undertow, and anyone thinks that the end result will be more “students from low-income families,” read:  More black undertow students?  Come on, now!

“Whether you’re isolating them in an affluent community, or whether you’re isolating them in a poor community, I don’t know how we expect to move down the road to a more equitable society,” Kent said.

But City Garden and Lafayette charter schools are becoming less diverse, particularly when it comes to socioeconomic status.

City Garden Montessori, offering kindergarten through sixth grade in the revitalized Botanical Heights neighborhood, has more than quadrupled in size since opening in 2009. Meanwhile, its percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches — a measure of poverty — dropped to 42 percent this year from 53 percent at its start.

The vast majority of students at St. Louis Public Schools, in contrast, are eligible for subsidized lunches.

Lafayette Preparatory Academy in Lafayette Square offers kindergarten through fifth grade. It has grown by 100 students since its first year in 2014, while the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches dropped to 50 percent from 66 percent.

The Biome is focused on science education for kindergarten through second grade. It opened last fall, with 54 percent of its students from low-income families.

The three charter schools share many attributes that contribute to their popularity.

They’re racially diverse, in a city where most public school students attend schools that are vastly majority African-American. At the three charter schools, between half and three-fourths of students are nonwhite.

The schools also all operate in central-corridor, relatively diverse neighborhoods that are seeing development and families moving in — in some cases, just to attend those schools. They were started by parents and thrive on a grass-roots sense of community.

They’re small schools — City Garden is the largest at 221 students — and can therefore provide an intimate and personalized environment for students. They offer programs not commonly found in other public schools, such as mindfulness exercises and Singapore math at Lafayette and a St. Louis Zoo “micro-school” program at The Biome.

Mash all those facts together, and the end result is that these three charters’ “diversity” consists of non-blacks.  St. Louis City doesn’t have that many people who are neither black nor white, but there are enough to have enough kids to fill a few small charters in the central corridor.

Most notably, these schools receive up to three times more applications than they can accept, even though Lafayette and The Biome are too new for the state to evaluate how well they perform academically.

When demand exceeds space, charter schools use random lotteries to admit students, which appear to give everyone the same shot at getting in. But the application deadlines, which are often in February, for those lotteries frequently end up favoring wealthier families.

Poorer families are less likely to be able to plan so far ahead when there are more immediate concerns to face, such as paying bills or making rent, said Susan Marino, Lafayette’s executive director.

Bingo.  And that’s not the only way they do it, as you read above.

Anyone familiar with HBD knows that a thing which rewards forward planning, planning ahead, and future time orientation, is a thing that will necessarily exclude ghetto undertow blacks.  A fact not lost on some.

And this how charters skim and cream, even though they deny.

The struggle of maintaining a sizable low-income population is a unique one that applies to a small fraction of charter schools. In fact, most St. Louis charter school agencies are not collections of students of means, but homogeneous havens of needy students, reflecting the same socioeconomic and racial segregation that has long accompanied urban public schools.

Nine of the city’s 17 charter school agencies have enrollments where at least 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Of those, six have at least 90 percent black students.

Those nine include some of the city’s most struggling charter schools, like Preclarus Mastery Academy, which is on the brink of closure, and Confluence Academies, whose students scored as poorly as a provisionally accredited school district last year on state exams. Family income is one of the strongest predictors of academic success.

But those charter schools also include one of the city’s best, the North Side Community School, which received a perfect score last year on the state’s school report card and sits in a high-poverty neighborhood of north St. Louis.

This probably means that North Side Community School engages in creaming and skimming, whilst the other ones don’t.

“In a perfect world, we want schools to be places where we see individuals trained to be responsible and respectful of people who come from different communities. But let’s face it,” said Kelly Garrett, director of KIPP St. Louis. “There have been great reports on the legacy of race-based housing practices and patterns that have caused entire neighborhoods and communities to be completely segregated.”

Garrett and others acknowledge that diversity is a luxury they’re not really trying to achieve, because their school mission is specifically to serve the most disadvantaged students. In St. Louis, those students are most often in low-income, African-American neighborhoods.

KIPP is in a league of its own; It not only skims and creams as intensely as any charter school outfit, but its schools are a combination of boot camp and semi-orphanage.

“As they say in our neighborhood, we ain’t too diverse and we ain’t integrated,” John Grote, executive director of North Side Community School, wrote in an email. “Our mission is to serve low-income African-American students on the north side, and that is what we do.”

Translation:  “We want enough token diversity to satisfy our need for virtue signaling and whet our pathological altruism and keep the civil rights lawsuits away, but we don’t want so much of and the wrong kind of diversity to where it’s robbing, murdering, carjacking and burglarizing us.”

Bringing the matter home, these progressive charter schools like the The Biome, City Garden Montessori, and Lafayette Prep, are schools where well-off white parents can hide their children behind a bunch of talk about diversity while not having the problematic kind of diversity, so they don’t have to send their children to the SLPS, where a whole lot of the problematic kind of diversity can be found.

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