MU dean questions the cause of the failing schools

Monday, August 4, 2008 | 8:11 a.m. CDT

 I am appalled. I read Friday's newspapers only to learn that our local schools are failing us. To wit:

  • All three high schools failed to meet goals on the Missouri Assessment Program math and communication arts test.
  • Ditto for the junior high and middle schools (although Smithton and West did fine in math).
  • Some of the elementary schools regarded as the best in the district (Russell, Mary Paxton Keeley, Grant and others) bombed out.

We apparently have only three top schools in the district - Midway Heights, New Haven and Ridgeway, which one of my sons attended.

What on earth has happened? My two sons graduated from Rock Bridge, when it was ranked as one of America's best high schools and actually trailed Hickman, which was ranked even higher at the time.

What is going on? Who is running the ship? Why have these schools failed us?

This is a school district that fails to win approval on a bond issue only when the school board shows incredible incompetence, as it did when picking the site of the new high school. I praise the Columbia Missourian for leading the challenge to that and forcing a change.

I, for one, intend to start taking a much closer look at our school board and why it has failed us. Add the questionable administration to that equation.

As the father of two proud Columbia Public Schools grads who have five college degrees between them, I am appalled at what I see. I have no dog in the fight (no children or grandchildren left in the system), but I don't like what I see. I AM a taxpayer, and I am one who wants the Columbia Public Schools to be the best in the state if not the nation. I believe in public education.

I am also associate dean of journalism at MU, and we depend on a top-notch public school system to help us attract new faculty members. Columbia Public Schools, you are making that more difficult. Board of Education members, it's time to fix this. The economic well-being of our children and our community are dependent on you.


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