Blunt’s choice for state board faces scrutiny

Nominee’s support of charter schools has drawn criticism.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:53 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — School groups around the state are uniting in opposition to Gov. Matt Blunt’s latest appointment to the State Board of Education: a woman who has advocated for efforts to help children attend private schools.

In October, Blunt named Donayle Whitmore-Smith of St. Louis to the board that oversees state policy governing public schools.

Whitmore-Smith runs School Choice Missouri, a campaign that has tried to raise awareness about alternatives like charter schools, and led a rally at the Capitol for failed legislation that would have provided tax breaks for contributions to groups that help students attend private schools. She also founded the Ptah Academy of Arts and Science in the St. Louis area, which has closed.

Organizations representing teachers, administrators, school boards and parents are fighting the nomination. She must be confirmed by the Senate after it returns in January, but has already attended one board meeting in November — as many appointees do while awaiting confirmation

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