• FAIR: Brighter days at St. Louis Public Schools

    FAIR: Amid the gloom about urban education, some good things are happening at St. Louis Public Schools.

    One example: A $300,000 grant from AT&T has allowed the district to create a new program to help average students graduate from high school and achieve academic success in college. The Post-Dispatch’s Elisa Crouch reported Thursday that the money will be used to help expand college readiness classes at six high schools. The elective classes — which have drawn a total of about 300 students and could eventually reach 3,400 — have demonstrated success elsewhere with students improving their reading comprehension, organization and note taking.

    A second example: Students at the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience racked up math scores that were better than those from Ladue, Clayton and Marquette high schools. The school, which requires a 3.0 average for admission, is good enough that a quarter of its 112 students are drawn from suburban school districts. They’re drawn by the school’s science focus, diverse student body and access to medical internships.

    Some 5,181 students attend the district’s 13 selective-admission magnet and choice schools, which focus on specialized areas including performing arts, international studies and sciences. The schools are popular with parents from the city and the suburbs who want a variety of choices for their kids, Superintendent Kelvin Adams said.

    The district has tried to allay concern that such schools leave behind students in lower-performing schools by plowing $6.4 million into intense instruction at its 18 lowest-performing schools. The obvious goal is a good education for every kid who’s willing to pursue it. City schools aren’t there yet, but they’re getting closer.

    — Deborah Peterson