When families in Normandy woke up this morning they had educational choices. The question where to send our children to school included options. Families could choose to enroll their children in the unaccredited Normandy School District. They could elect to transfer their children to an accredited school district. Or, these same families could join others seeking a local quality option and work toward the opening of a charter public school in their community. As families in Normandy go to bed tonight those choices have been eliminated.
This afternoon the Missouri State Board of Education exercised by THEIR choice to give the new ‘district’ entity, the Normandy Schools Collaborative, no accreditation status. They also voted to continue allowing transfers only for students who attended the Normandy School District for at least one semester during the 2012-2013 school year. With these two votes, in one afternoon, the Missouri State Board of Education undid the work of Missouri’s General Assembly and the Missouri Courts. They are chaining families to schools, which have long been unaccredited and removed the ability for quality charter public schools to open providing a quality, LOCAL option for families.
Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Because they are public schools they are open to all children, do not charge tuition, and do not have special entrance requirements. The majority of charter public schools offers a longer school day, longer school year, and smaller class sizes. They provide parents with more high quality schools, smaller schools where parents are partners, and OPTIONS! Public charter schools have become an increasingly significant part of the public school landscape, providing quality educational options for parents and students in hundreds of communities with 1 in 20 students nationally now attending a public charter school. Unfortunately, what is true in the majority of the country is not the case for families in Normandy.
We believe the Missouri State Board of Education was originally on the right track. They voted to lapse the Normandy School District and create a new entity of leadership, the Normandy Schools Collaborative. After more than 15 years of poor performance this was a welcome decision providing such amazing potential. However, today, they took a left instead of a right. Have the families in Normandy been organizing to establish charter public schools in their neighborhoods? How could they, life for the past several months have been turmoil with no certainty. Did the Missouri State Board of Education realize the impact of the decisions they were making? The answer is unknown. But after today’s quick decision-making we call on the Missouri State Board of Education to really consider what has been done!
The Missouri State Board of Education should listen to the pounding footsteps of those families who last year elected to transfer their children to schools outside of Normandy. They should vote to allow the Normandy Schools Collaborative and current sponsors to sponsor charter public schools in Normandy. If the State Board can decide who can and cannot transfer they can vote to allow what the General Assembly placed into law and charter public schools to open in Normandy. This one decision would bring educational options back to families who have long been underserved.
Wouldn’t it be the ideal if families were choosing between an improved Normandy Public Schools and high quality charter public schools in their community? That is when the children of Normandy will truly be well served.