Friday, October 30, 2015

On SLPS, 'accreditation' and the appointed board, by Susan Turk

BG comment:

I think accreditation has always been a political instrument, that reflects only in a very obligue way, the quality of what might be happening in SLPS.   Accreditation was taken away for a political reason (to appoint the SAB).  Provisional accreditation was returned for a political reason (to stop the flood of transfer demands and lawsuits that would have followed Turner v. Clayton.  The possibility of accreditation returning now is equally political (to justify the dismantling of democratic process and the corporate and mayor-led takeover of the district to promote charters, real estate development deals and other private interests).

We can never really know what accreditation means until there is much more transparency in these processes of evaluation and decision-making.  And, since the takeover was meant as much to shut out the public as anything else, we cannot expect much transparency going forward.

At any rate, here's the take of Susan Turk on all of this, and of course, sign the petition:

Mayor Slay’s Ambition
By Susan Turk

October 29, 2015 – St. Louis --With the good news that the SLPS has earned enough points on its Annual Progress Report to qualify for the state board of education to vote to return its full accreditation, word comes from City Hall that Mayor Slay is giving all the credit for this accomplishment to the SAB.  Not Dr. Adams.  Not the teachers. Not the students.
Although state law only provides for SABs to run unaccredited districts and the SLPS has been provisionally accredited since 2013, the Mayor is in no hurry to see them go.  And state law makes no provision for the removal of SABs.  Once appointed, they serve at the pleasure of the state board of education in possible perpetuity.
Last Friday, the mayor was overheard to say that he thinks the appointed SAB is doing a good job and that if they are replaced it should be by a hybrid board of both appointed and elected members.  That would mean the existing elected board of education will never be returned to authority over the SLPS.
Last spring, the SAB hired the law firm of Lewis, Rice and Fingerish to provide lobbying services for the upcoming 2016 legislative session in addition to their long time lobbyist, Steve Carroll.  Carroll would have gladly taken on the additional work. The assumption is that the additional work is the writing and lobbying of legislation to create a hybrid board.  Such a board was envisioned by the Danforth Freeman committee which recommended the state takeover of the SLPS after Supt Creg Williams resigned in 2006.
The hybrid board would slowly take shape over a period of years involving several elections. The Danforth Freeman envisioned hybrid would gradually become a fully elected board over 3 election cycles or about 5 years.    The Mayor’s idea appears to be a permanent hybrid board.  What shape it would take, how many appointed members and how many elected is anybody’s guess at this point. Legislation begins to be pre-filed in December.
The Legislature is a quirky institution. The final form of the legislation is likely to not resemble the original.  Most bills regarding education are lumped together into one omnibus bill annually which includes provisions regarding charter school, virtual school and tuition tax credit (voucher) expansion as well as such thorny issues as inter-district transfers from unaccredited districts.  The governor has wisely vetoed many of these bills and his vetoes have at times been sustained.  Last year’s education omnibus bill was vetoed because of a provision sponsored by state Senator Maria Chapelle Nadal which would have allowed for vouchers pay tuition at private schools for students from unaccredited districts.  That veto was sustained. So, there is no guarantee that hybrid board legislation will survive the legislative process.
DESE Commissioner Vandeven has indicated that a decision about future governance of the SLPS is coming this spring.  The SABs current term ends June 39, 2016. Vandeven has indicated that whether the elected board returns to authority depends on the citizens of the city demonstrating support for their return.  One way to demonstrate support is to sign an online petition at
Please sign the petition and forward the link for it to everyone you know.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Contribute to keep post-Ferguson reporting going strong at St Louis American (via Chris King)

As you may know, the Huffington Post is raising funds to keep the reporter they share with The St. Louis American, Mariah Stewart, in our newsroom. Between now and when the campaign ends, which is tomorrow, the Huffington Post is matching all contributions.

Donation opportunities range from $10 to $5,000. Here is where people would donate:

The back story:

Last year, The Huffington Post approached us with the loan of a reporter, Mariah Stewart. Mariah is a young, local African-American journalist who was covering Ferguson on her own until the HuffPost adopted her. They crowd-funded her salary as a Ferguson Fellow.

With her editors being in D.C., they wanted a local newsroom for her to work out of, and they approached us. With our very small staff and limited resources, of course we accepted a free reporter. We have enjoyed having Mariah in our newsroom, and she has done a lot of good work for us.

HuffPost has now started a new crowd-funding campaign to renew her fellowship. If they meet their goal, they will keep Mariah on their staff in Ferguson -- and in our newsroom. If they can't fund her fellowship again this way, they will try to move her onto their national team in D.C. -- and we will lose her.

Thanks for any support, and feel free to share with anyone in your network who might be supportive.

Chris King
Managaing editor
The St. Louis American


The most-read story on our site right now is Mariah's profile of Bradley Rayford, the Flo Valley student who became a nationally awarded photojournalist by showing up in Ferguson with his camera:

How Landlords Contribute to the Concentration of Poverty: Sociology Lecture at WUSTL October 27

Tuesday, October 27 – 11:30, Seigle 170 (conference room in the Weidenbaum Center)
Eva Rosen – Ph.D. Harvard University and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Poverty and
Inequality Research Lab, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University
Landlords and the Making of the Third Ghetto

Housing policy has long played an integral role in attempts to dismantle concentrated
poverty and segregation. In the 1930s, ghetto slums were razed and public housing was
built. Sixty years later these towers of the "second ghetto" were demolished, and housing
voucher subsidies promised to harness the power of the private market to remedy
concentrated poverty. In theory, the voucher program should be providing opportunities
for poor households to move to better neighborhoods, but it has fallen far short. This third
era of housing policy introduces a new actor who, as I argue, plays a key role brokering
the geography of opportunity: the landlord. Landlords act as gatekeepers between lowincome
residents and the homes they live in. Yet their role in sorting residents in and out
of neighborhoods remains largely unseen, and un-researched. This paper draws on
ethnographic observation and in-depth interviews with 20 landlords and 82 residents in
Baltimore. Findings show that landlord practices contribute to residential sorting patterns
in three steps. First, selection, in which targeted recruitment tactics favor voucher tenants;
second, a sorting process in which landlords match voucher tenants to hard-to-rent units;
and third, the selective retention of tenants who do not have the means to leave. This
results in a process of “reverse selection," where rather than tenants choosing homes and
neighborhoods, landlords are selecting tenants. Together, these practices help landlords
keep voucher holders trapped in units that deliver the biggest profits, in some of the very
neighborhoods the voucher is supposed to afford them the opportunity to escape.
Landlord practices and the policies that support them serve as a powerful mechanism in

the concentration of poverty.