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The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

Post-Dispatch Student Transfer Editorial Response

Post-Dispatch+Student+Transfer+Editorial+Response
Snow falls on the Clayton High School Quad
Snow falls on the Clayton High School quad.

On February 11th, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an editorial blasting several school districts, most notably Clayton, for their collective “shakedown” of transfer students from unaccredited districts. The paper’s illogical tirade ignores the facts and completely misses the point.

Make no mistake, the current predicament is a disgrace. It bankrupts already failing districts, eliminating any chance of an educational renaissance. Already, Normandy, one of the state’s two unaccredited districts, is approaching insolvency over required tuition payments to recipient school districts. The other, Riverview Gardens, is not far behind.

Who is to blame? According to the Post Dispatch, it’s the “suburban bullies” led by Clayton. Clayton, whose codified guiding principles include a belief that “social, ethnic, and cultural diversity enriches [the] school community.” Clayton, whose students staged a walkout to preserve a separate but similar student transfer program mere years ago. (The VICC program, which brings minority students from the City of St. Louis to majority-white districts, will continue enrolling new students through no earlier than the 2018-19 school year.)

According to the Post-Dispatch, however, Clayton led suburban districts in “building a wall” to keep out the students it is now forced to accept. Of the four districts it crucifies, the Post-Dispatch conveniently forgets that three continue to accept new transfer students from the City of St. Louis. The fourth, Ladue, stopped in 1999, but continues to educate the remaining students through graduation.

In the first few paragraphs of what the editorial board claims is a “damning” article, Jessica Bock and Elisa Crouch, the authors, admit what should be a plain truth – more students lead to greater costs. And yet the paper attacks Clayton and districts like it for accepting tuition payments; “the same districts who cried that their districts would be unable to handle the avalanche of transfers are pocketing the tuition windfall without even hiring additional teachers,” the editorial states.

It seems the Post-Dispatch editors need either new glasses or a lesson in what misrepresenting the truth consists of. While Clayton (along with other districts receiving students and their tuition payments) has not hired new teachers, it has hired new “support staff, such as reading specialists, teachers aides, substitute teachers or after-school supervisors,” per Ms. Bock and Ms. Crouch’s Post-Dispatch article.

So forgive us for taking issue with the editors’ belief that because support staff were hired as opposed to traditional teachers – keep in mind that the new students come from failing schools; some require tutoring or other educational support – that Clayton is “pocketing the tuition windfall.”

While the Post-Dispatch’s editorial completely misses the mark, it would be an injustice to the students involved to dwell upon the personal biases of the paper’s editors. Instead, let us focus on those who are suffering the consequences of poorly written state education statutes. The long term goal must be not to demonize the districts who accept transfer students, tuition and all, but to establish successful schools in every part of the St. Louis area.

The Globe at night outside of the Clayton High School plaza.
The Globe at night outside of the Clayton High School plaza.

If the goal is to reform and improve our area’s worst schools, draining the same schools of resources will only exacerbate the problem. State laws forcing Normandy and Riverview to subsidize their students’ studies in other districts are the issue. The solution is not to attack the districts who accept transfer students, but to work with Jefferson City to ensure Normandy tax dollars are spent improving Normandy schools.

Clayton has historically been and continues to be a strong supporter of student transfer from disadvantaged areas. It fought the Turner v. Clayton lawsuit that resulted in these new transfers because it opposed the inherently flawed law at the center of the issue. This law is what is bankrupting Normandy and Riverview; to accept it would be an injustice to students all over and would result in disaster for the districts who can afford it the least.

If the Post-Dispatch wants to “always fight for progress and reform” and “remain devoted to the public welfare,” per its stated platform, it should push for change in Jefferson City instead of attacking third parties with uncalled-for vitriol.

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The student news site of Clayton High School.
Post-Dispatch Student Transfer Editorial Response