The Problem Of School Search In St. Louis
January 18, 2020
Finding the school that will best help a child succeed is a daunting task for families in the City of St. Louis. The difficulty in navigating the process and understanding the options starts with the sheer number of schools available. We are offering an advanced school search in St. Louis.
Each neighborhood in the city of St. Louis is serviced by one neighborhood public school (Kindergarten – 12th grade) and each child is assigned a school based on their address. But enrollment in these schools are also open to students outside each school’s zone provided seats are available. What’s more, there are numerous magnet and charter schools that are also available tuition-free. And if paying tuition is an option, this list gets even larger.
The History Of School Choice In St. Louis City
This all started in the 1970s and ’80s when legal issues surrounding school quality and public school desegregation magnified the issue of school choice. At that time, SLPS (Saint Louis Public Schools) was ordered to improve public education by developing a number of magnet schools centered on particular themes that could better serve both the urban and suburban communities.
Later, in the 2000s, school choice became even more complex when the concept of public charter schools was approved and over a dozen launched in the decade.
The Situation Today
In a perfect world, a family living in the city today could be confident that the best school for their child is the one in their own neighborhood, but that is not our reality. If they want their child in the best possible situation, they have a complex constellation of schools in which to navigate somewhat alone.
Families have to gather and sift through various bits of information, weighing the value and reliability of one piece against another. This puts a lot of onus on families to conduct an exhaustive school search and unfairly disadvantages those with limited time and resources.
Navigate STL Schools
Years back, this situation prompted a group of parents to create a website (StlCitySchools) to act as a guide for parents in this situation. But the parents who put together this wonderful resource moved away from St. Louis and were no longer updating the site with current information.
That’s where Navigate STL Schools came in. We wanted to codify this important service to the community with a non-profit that has financial support behind it to ensure that there is annual updating of the school data and real people to support families navigating the complex landscape.
We worked with parents, educators, and community organizations to design and launch our website and first-ever mobile school finder with a focus on increasing equity of access to information for all families. Our tools and data will help families access meaningful information in a faster and less complex way so that they can ultimately find the school that is best suited to help their child succeed.