Mike Jones

In leading up to the March 7 Democratic primary, we should have a conversation about what the next mayor should be.

St. Louis, like all cities, has a large professional bureaucracy that runs the day-to-day operations. The mayor's job is to decide where the city's going and determine the best way to get there, adjusting the course as required by circumstances. All cities have a destination where they've never been – the future – and they're always sailing in uncharted waters.

American cities make up 3 percent of the country's  land mass but contain 65 percent of its population. Metropolitan areas account for nearly 91 percent of national current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP). Missouri has population of 6 million people, but one-third of that (2 million people) are in St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County. And when you include St. Charles County, these two metropolitan areas are easily responsible for 40 percent of Missouri's economy.

The next mayor must have intellectual curiosity with an informed overview of the historical importance of cities in human development. The mayor must understand the importance and role of the modern city in 21st century America, and where St. Louis fits in that universe. The next mayor must also be school-yard tough.

Paraphrasing James Carville, you could argue that Missouri is St. Louis and Kansas City with Mississippi in the middle. So the next mayor must embrace the role of political warrior. The mayor must create a coalition of political progressives and urban Republican business interests that understands the need to actively push back against anti-metropolitan public policy. The mayor must also help create a common agenda that aligns the city's interest with those of St. Louis County and Kansas City to maximize the opposition to the trolls that politically control Missouri.

The mayor will not only need an informed sense of history but also have an intuitive feel for this historical moment. A mayor will always be considering options that have unforeseen consequences, so picking the best options will always be a function of keen insight that's a function of a highly developed instinct guided by an informed intellect.

Four decades of combat in the political arena have taught me there are two qualities that are essential to success: intelligence and character. Strong moral character teamed with an underdeveloped mind will lead to well-intentioned but often disastrous mistakes. High intelligence without a moral compass will inevitably take you down the road to perdition. You can trace most political leadership failure to an insufficient amount of one or both these qualities.

The next mayor must have the intellectual and political dexterity to make 10th Amendment arguments in defense of a city's right to progressive public policies in opposition to a reactionary, overreaching federal government. The mayor must align with peers like Mayor de Blasio in New York and Mayor Garcetti in Los Angles, who are already making these arguments. The next mayor must see opposition to reorganizing America society around right-wing political dogma as a moral imperative that can't be compromised.

Mike Jones, who has held senior policy positions in St. Louis city and county government, serves on the St. Louis American editorial board and the State Board of Education.

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(6) comments

kjoe

In my e-mail archives....I found a couple of you tubes in my antonio french collection.I hope he does not mind my displaying them----I miss the days of full reporting on education issues.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4o4RsvKe28
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pllKeC2kXps did I say heavy handed? http://interact.stltoday.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1205409#p16506467

kjoe

win some, lose some. I read what Mr. Jones and Mr. Martin said reacting to the elected board eventually regaining power.....the 24,000 or so will be fully accredited. Apparently I convinced no one of anything, but it was kind of Mr. Suggs let me have my say. I do anticipate more attention to education to be paid in the next few years.

kjoe

(take two) I thought this was a good site....it does say this: PUBLIC Charter – 34 Schools (11,000 students)
Charter schools are also public, tuition-free schools and receive public money, however, charter schools are not part of SLPS.

A Parents' Guide to St. Louis Schools


Understand the 4 Types of Schools

PUBLIC Conventional – 44 Schools
PUBLIC Magnet – 27 Schools
PUBLIC Charter – 34 Schools
PRIVATE 150+ Schools
the large number of private schools surprised me.

this is the description of charter schools:

PUBLIC Charter – 34 Schools

Charter schools are also public, tuition-free schools and receive public money, however, charter schools are not part of SLPS. Each charter school is governed by an independent school board and adheres to rules defined in its charter. This independence allows each school a lot more freedom in how they operate, the curriculum they choose, and how they serve their students. Some schools have themes and/or a geographic enrollment focus. Advanced application is required and spots are usually allocated by lottery.

Ths leaves room for a lot of unanswered questions. The Post Dispatch talks about 24,500 students, and whether it is time to return governance of them to an elected board of 6 or 7 people-----but pretends the charter schools, each governed by an independent school board----as if all is well, each of them receiving public money, some operating to make a profit, sometimes with monetary shortcuts in paying the staff.

It is possible that a full explanation, and organized presentation of facts about all these schools could make the people happy.....but that has not always been the case in other places. Massachusetts citizens voted 63% not to open any additional charter schools.

I believe it is ludicrous to report about 23,500 students, and ignore what is happening to 11,000 others, especially given the hoopla about "choice".

I do not know who this site is, or how accurate the information is....but I thought it was a place which should give people things to think about.
http://stlcityschools.org/guide/

kjoe

I thought this was a good site....it does say this: PUBLIC Charter – 34 Schools
Charter schools are also public, tuition-free schools and receive public money, however, charter schools are not part of SLPS.

A Parents' Guide to St. Louis Schools


Understand the 4 Types of Schools

PUBLIC Conventional – 44 Schools
PUBLIC Magnet – 27 Schools
PUBLIC Charter – 34 Schools
PRIVATE 150+ Schools

the large number of private schools surprised me.

this is the description of charter schools:

PUBLIC Charter – 34 Schools

Charter schools are also public, tuition-free schools and receive public money, however, charter schools are not part of SLPS. Each charter school is governed by an independent school board and adheres to rules defined in its charter. This independence allows each school a lot more freedom in how they operate, the curriculum they choose, and how they serve their students. Some schools have themes and/or a geographic enrollment focus. Advanced application is required and spots are usually allocated by lottery.

Ths leaves room for a lot of unanswered questions. The Post Dispatch talks about 24,500 students, and whether it is time to return governance of them to an elected board of 6 or 7 people-----but pretends the charter schools, each governed by an independent school board----as if all is well, each of them receiving public money, some operating to make a profit, sometimes with monetary shortcuts in paying the staff.

It is possible that a full explanation, and organized presentation of facts about all these schools could make the people happy.....but that has not always been the case in other places. Massachusetts citizens voted 63% not to open any additional charter schools.

I believe it is ludicrous to report about 23,500 students, and ignore what is happening to 11,000 others, especially given the hoopla about "choice".

I also believe it is ludicrous to have a forum for soccer....and none for education.

I do not know who this site is, or how accurate the information is....but I thought it was a place which should give people things to think about.
http://stlcityschools.org/guide/

kjoe

Mr. Jones, you are one of my favorite characters in what is some sort of clumsy thrashing around about a central theme----that not enough attention is paid to public education in St. Louis media, and sometimes it seems to be that way by design. I believe it is a pretty big deal to be replacing a mayor who has been here for 16 years. My assessment is that he did a lot to push public education in a more conservative direction, and a lot of it in the early years was heavy handed. It has had an effect upon the demographics which might cause some to praise him. What was the effect of having a school board in 2003 which paid five million dollars to Roberti to be superintendent, closing a lot of schools? The history is routinely given that it was a very natural thing that slps lost accreditation and had to be taken over by the state, because there was so much fighting year after year by school boards and constant replacement of superintendents.

The real trigger of demand for the takeover, from what I observed, was the election of people who were willing to deal with the mess. Peter Downs was someone not wanted by Mayor Slay, and many others...that 2006 school board, which included the wrong people winning too many votes had to deal with a lot, and for the most part, they did. You have one candidate for mayor who documented all that was going on, with his pub def website.

I wonder if you have ever had a discussion with Dr. Martin, your fellow state board member who was active in documenting the number of graduates about how unfairly slps was treated during the takeover. You characterized Missouri as the two cities with Mississippi between----I recently discovered the enormity of the legal decisions made by the Mississippi part of Missouri's courts----Justin D.Smith wrote these 29 pages in 2009, documenting unsuccessful court challenges related to the 2007 takeover. http://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3857&context=mlr

I just noticed that Mr. Suggs was on the commission which recommended the takeover...IF...slps lost accreditation. It seems like with Mayor Slay and Danforth, it was going to happen no matter how many rural judge rulings it took. The consequences of the takeover have been poorly reported..beyond such things as the Can academy which Bourisaw opposed before she was replaced, the problems with the Imagine charter schools, but more than anything else.....the slipshod, hard to obtain information about the arc of traffic from the non charter part of slps, into what is now 11,000 charter students. The state department of education wrote to me that there are 35,000 students in slps....as stories are written about the 24,000 not in charters, but affected by the situation. Got an answer about whether KIPP is now abiding by the new k-2 standards regarding suspensions, which slps has a right to brag about? I have not found one. Another of the good charter schools, (not all of them are) Gateway is supposedly connected to the mysterious Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, and the school population is 68% white. There was a story a year ago about a black student who could not go there, because he was from st. louis county...which might have been the correct ruling. I don't know.

As I keep posting my not always 100% correct because I have to guess rants.....your name comes up when I look at the important step that was taken in 2012....slps was awarded provisional accreditation. My guess is that you....counseled.....Nicastro to anticipate the problems which would develop if the legislature enacted the transfer law.....which it did the next year. Perhaps it was all base on legitimate improvement in student performance.

I cannot imagine selection of a mayor who would have as much effect on the city through what is offered in public education as Mayor Slay has, but whoever it is.....there needs to be much clearer reporting of what is actually going on. You most certainly would know better than I do whether the takeover has amounted to a form of disenfranchisement of something very important to families.

kjoe

http://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3857&context=mlr I was mostly interested in the court decisions from the Mississippi part of Missouri...but...a more significant possibility jumped out of Justin's conclusions, not all of which I agreed with: "Why
black students score below their classmates is unknown but should be examined
by the district. As for dropouts, before the takeover in 2007, 1,221
St. Louis high school students - 12.1% - dropped out, while 1,975 students -
22.8% - dropped out one year later." (Page 22)
He said there was insufficient data after only two years in 2009...but better scores indicated the right direction under the 3 person takeover board.....I have to ask.....did the increase in students dropping out....and perhaps those being shepherded into the inferior charters which answer to basically nobody....have anything to do with improved stats? The stats used several times including stories in the last couple of weeks.

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