Last week, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay wrote to over 70 potential charter school operators and invited them to start new schools in his town. The mayor hopes to begin a system of handpicked, high-quality charter schools that will, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "rival the city's sinking school district and draw families back to the city." Slay has even offered to help charter-starters secure building loans, find sponsors, and train teachers. Of course, not everyone is happy with the mayor's idea. "It sounds like a plan, then, to abandon half the children in St. Louis," said school board President Peter Downs. Not sure how Downs makes the connection from starting more charter schools to abandoning lots of kids--but whatever. Slay's persistence deserves special praise, as he's found a novel way to support charters even though the state legislature refused to give him the authority to authorize such schools himself. (He wanted the same power that Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, who was just voted out of office, used so effectively in his Midwestern city.) In other words, Slay's approach could be mimicked by any city executive in the country...hint, hint.
"Mayor Slay pushes system of charter schools," by David Hunn, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 9, 2007