Introduction: Charter Schools
The phenomenon of charter schools emerged in 1991 as the opposite of public schools (Lockwood 46). In contrast to the latter, which are both funded by the school district (SD) and regulated by it, charter schools, while receiving funds from SD, operate independently from it (Lockwood 7). A 2011 study mentioned 17 charter schools being situated in St. Louis City (“St. Louis Public Charter Schools: An In-Depth Look” 1); at present, there are 29 (“Charter Schools in St. Louis City, MO” para. 1–29).
The Gateway Science Academy School
The Gateway Science Academy School is located on 6576 Smiley Avenue in St. Louis, MO (Missouri State Board 1). According to the recent report, the school is run on federal funds that are retrieved from “state and federal revenue sources” (Missouri State Board 49). Particularly, the sponsorship by Lindenwood University (Missouri State Board 2) deserves to be mentioned as one of the key sources of financial support for the school.
As estimated for fall, 2014, the Gateway Science Academy School has received 1,172 students (Missouri State Board 2), their attendance rate having improved in 2014 by 4% (from 87.1 to 90.6% (Missouri State Board 3)). The teachers focus on training the language skills that will allow students to enter the job market of their interest successfully. The school serves grades K-10 and K-11 at present; however, its consistency and sustainability allows learners to remain the students of the Gateway Science Academy from kindergarten to high school (Missouri State Board 4).
The Construction Careers Center
Another St. Lois City school that was defined as a charter one, the Construction Careers Center was funded from not only the state sources, but also from “local sources and construction industry donations” (Construction Careers Center 1). Situated on 1224 Grattan Street in St. Louis, MO, the school has been experiencing a major crisis over the past few years. The number of students amounting to 425 in 2008 (Construction Careers Center 1), the school was aiming at providing the learners with the innovative skills for locating the niches in the job market to fill (Construction Careers Center 2).
Therefore, the discovery and development of new and essential skills in students was the focus of the organization and the key to understanding its goals and practices. Unfortunately, the drop in student enrollment and a major reduction in students’ academic achievement rates (Crouch para. 2) served as the pivoting point in the operations of the organization, and it is about to close in 2015, according to the recent announcement (Crouch para. 1).
The analysis of two St. Louis City charter schools provided above shows rather graphically that a major update of financial strategies and school programs is required for charter schools to survive in the academic environment of the 21st century. In contrast to public schools, which suffer major alterations in accordance with the latest trends in education due to the supervision of the corresponding school districts, charter schools are quite hard to subject to alterations.
Therefore, the charter school policy in St. Louis requires that a better analysis of the trends observable in the education system should be carried out. Otherwise, charter schools are doomed to continuing making the same mistake as the Construction Careers Center did, therefore, facing a rapid and quite untimely demise.
“Charter Schools in St. Louis City, MO.” Find Good School. 2015. Web.
Construction Careers Center. Construction Careers Center. 2008. Web.
Crouch, Elisa. “Construction Careers Center to close; South City Prep Gets Building.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Web.
Lockwood, Anne Turnbaugh. The Charter Schools Decade. Lanham, MD: R&L Education, 2004. Print.
Missouri State Board. The Gateway Science Academy Charter Renewal. St. Louis City, MO: Missouri Department on Elementary and Secondary Education, 2015. Web.
“St. Louis Public Charter Schools: An In-Depth Look.” Focus St. Louis. 2011. Web.