No issue presents a greater challenge to the St. Louis region than ensuring that all children have access to a quality education and that educational disparities and inequities are eliminated. Schools provide the primary institutional platform for entry into adulthood and the workforce. The educational experience of some St. Louis area children is excellent. For others it is wholly inadequate.
It is in the educational arena that our region’s problems related to fragmented governmental structure and parochialism are most starkly manifested. Students are educated primarily on the basis of the resources within each school district. In areas where high educational need outstrips available resources, children and communities suffer.
While some area school districts are managing wonderfully productive educational environments with limited resources, there are also districts in which a large percentage of the student body could be considered “at-risk.” The job of educating children from families that have lower incomes, food insecurities, and unmet physical and emotional needs can be an overpowering task for school districts, especially when they do so without the general support and goodwill of the community at large.
In the educational arena, macro issues such as school governance and financing can impact students as significantly as micro issues, like parent involvement and school safety. While individual school districts benefit from targeting issues as they exist in their individual schools, the overall community can most positively affect the quality of area education by connecting districts with each other and with government, private and corporate resources. In this sense, collaboration is key to educational quality.