Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The 2009 Chess Club Championship in St. Louis

St. Louis will host the U.S. Chess Championship this year! From May 7-17, 2009 the leading chess from around the country will compete for over $200,000 in prizes at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.

Chess has proven to develop memory, improve schoolwork/grades, develop logical thinking, inspire self-motivation and develop social skills. It is awesome that our community gets to share in such a momentous and historic event!

The website for the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis has more on the up-coming tournament, including free ticket information and competitor’s biographies, see:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

St. Louis Public School Board Lifts Deed Restrictions on Charter Schools

Coverage from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Charter schools will now — at least in theory — be able to buy shuttered St. Louis Public School buildings.

The St. Louis Public School Board voted last night to lift the deed restriction that barred charter groups from buying the former city schools.

District CEO Rick Sullivan said that the board simply bent to legislative pressure.

“The legislature felt very strongly that the provision was unfair or not appropriate,” he said. “We worked with legislative leaders to reach an understanding that I think is good for all parties.”

The ban had angered charter leaders searching for homes for their new schools, as well as dozens of state politicians tired of seeing the old buildings sit unattended in their districts, drawing crime and vandalism. (See prior coverage HERE.)

Word began to leak out at last night’s meeting that board members, in closed session, had voted to lift the ban. St. Louis Public wouldn’t confirm the news, but charter supporters began whispering.

Then, this morning, St. Louis Public made the news official.

State Rep. T.D. El-Amin, a Democrat who represents much of north St. Louis, said so many people were leaning on the board, it was just a matter of time. “We knew it was a levy bound to break,” he said.

Charter school advocates began celebrating early.

“This is a win for families in St. Louis who are seeking better education options for their children and for all of the taxpayers in the city who paid for these buildings,” said Earl Simms, state coordinator for the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri, a charter advocacy organization. “These buildings can now be sold to organizations seeking to open public charter schools. That not only gives more education options to parents, but the sale of these buildings will also provide more dollars to educate the district’s students.”

Others said the decision will help charter schools open more quickly.

“Charter schools often find alternative facilities to serve students - empty commercial space or other buildings constructed for purposes other than education,” Aaron North, director of the state charter school association, said this morning. “Making unused public school buildings available for purchase or lease will provide new and existing charter schools with more options to best serve the students and families in their charge.”

Still, the practical implications of the board’s decision are unclear.

The move doesn’t require the district to sell to charters, just to consider their offers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lastest Deed Restriction Video

The Children’s Education Council of Missouri released a new video today once again highlighting the St. Louis Public Schools’ policy of restricting the sale of closed buildings. The restrictions do not allow purchasers of the buildings to reopen them as public charter schools. This video details the genesis of the issue going into Thursday’s SAB meeting.

I would like to ask you to forward the video on to others that you think may be interested in the issue. Let's make change happen!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Urban Education March & Forum

A march of concerned citizens will take place Friday (April 17th) in St. Louis to call attention to the issue of urban education. The march begins at St. Louis City Hall at 10:00 AM and proceeds to the offices of St. Louis Public Schools. It will be led by Rev. Horace Sheffield and DFER chairman Kevin Chavous and include many of the panelists From the Urban Education Forum.

The Urban Education Forum is taking place this Saturday (April 18) in St. Louis. It will be a platform for communication and information on education in urban areas. Community leaders, political officials, non-profit organizations and other stakeholders will come together to discuss solutions to the problems specifically facing these schools. It will be at Harris Stowe State University's Emerson Theater from 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM. Radio station Hot 104.1 FM will be broadcasting live.

Panelists include:
Mayor Francis Slay
Dr. Kelvin Adams (Superintendent, St. Louis Public Schools)
Mary Armstrong (AFT Local 420 President)
Dr. Benjamin Chavis (Co-Chairman, Hip-Hop Summit Action Network)
Kevin Chavous (National Reform Author and Activist)
Missouri State Representative T.D. El-Amin (57th District)
Aaron North (Exec. Director, Missouri Charter Public School Assn.)
Mayor Alvin Parks (City of East St. Louis, IL)
Rev. Horace Sheffield (Detroit, MI)
Earl Simms (State Coordinator, Children Education Alliance)
Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith (4th District)
Joe Williams (Exec. Director, Democrats for Education Reform)

DFER-Midwest Director Rodney Hubbard will take any questions:
(314) 402-2517.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sinquefield/Shock Sue to Lift Deed Restriction

Today, Rex Sinquefield and W. Bevis Schock filed a lawsuit against the St. Louis deed restriction in the Missouri District Court.
"These deed restrictions do nothing to help the poor and undeserved children of the City of Saint Louis," Sinquefield said. "In addition to denying young people an important educational opportunity, they contribute to the economic instability of our neighborhoods and create a dangerous situation for families. Clearly, this decision by the SAB is short-sided, and they should completely rescind this egregious disregard for Saint Louis children and the taxpayers who paid for these structures."
Since finding a building is often the hardest part, the current restriction is a blatant attack on charter schools. Unfortunately the victims are our children and our community.

Sinquefield, Schock sue St. Louis Public Schools to lift building sales deed restrictions (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)