• Editorial:

    State should honor St. Louis accreditation request


    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    September 16, 2012 12:15 am  • 

    When discussing the process by which the state accredits, or unaccredits, public schools in Missouri, Chad Beffa uses a war analogy.

    "There is no exit strategy," Mr. Beffa says.

    Mr. Beffa is one of the elected members of the board that used to oversee the St. Louis Public Schools. Since 2007, when the schools lost state accreditation and a Special Administrative Board was appointed to take over, the elected board has been mostly toothless.

    But it is poised to matter again, perhaps soon, if the state Board of Education grants provisional accreditation to the schools. Last month, after state test scores and other accountability measures improved enough that the city's public schools now score 7 on the state's 14-point performance scale, we urged the Special Administrative Board to seek provisional accreditation.

    This month, the SAB did just that.

    Now it's up to the state Board of Education to do the right thing.

    Unfortunately, Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro didn’t put the St. Louis request on the agenda of a Board of Education meeting this week, when several other accreditation decisions will be made. After pressure from St. Louis, Nicastro decided the board would discuss provisional accreditation in October.

    State law is clear that the score the St. Louis school district has earned qualifies it for provisional accreditation. The schools need to make more progress before they are fully accredited, but that's the point of having an intermediate step. Progress is being made. It's the state's job to recognize it.

    Both the SAB and the elected board believe that it is time for provisional accreditation to be granted. That could create a sticky governance issue: How does the state manage the transition from the SAB, which has been effective, back to the elected board, which was inept?

    Lawmakers and even the courts might have to get involved. But the students, teachers, parents and administrators of St. Louis shouldn't be punished now because the powers that be didn't devise an exit strategy five years ago.

    To read the editorial on the Post-Dispatch website, please visit http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/the-platform/editorial-state-should-honor-st-louis-accreditation-request/article_80cb7eae-a09b-58ec-8e05-f3da3ff83b56.html.