Mason Elementary School in Saint Louis
Michael Q. McShane

Kristen Taketa of the Post-Dispatch published a great story earlier this week about Mason Elementary in Clifton Heights. Mason is a high-performing, diverse school that parents, students, and teachers love. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, especially if you need a shot of good news in sea of negative stories from around the country and world.

I have a few reactions to this story.

  1. We want more great schools, point blank, period. Running a successful school, no matter where you are, is hard going. If that school is urban, suburban, or rural; if it is traditional public, public charter or private; if it is religious or secular—we should be happy when it succeeds. Mason Elementary’s story should give us joy.
  2. My ultimate goal is to see multiple vibrant school sectors in Missouri. I want awesome traditional public schools. I want awesome charter schools. I want awesome private schools, and I want parents to have the freedom to choose between them without sanction or stigma. If the best choice for a family is their local traditional public school, terrific. If they prefer a charter, great. I want school choice policies to level the playing field and put families first.
  3. Choice allows parents to find the educational option that best fits the needs of their child and their family. Some folks want to go to school in their neighborhood, some folks want to get out of their neighborhood, some folks don’t care either way. There isn’t one right or wrong answer, it comes down to people’s preferences. And that is OK. Mason families are making a choice, and we should support that.
  4. Can we put to rest this stubborn myth that school choice is the death of traditional public schools? Given some of the rhetoric around charter schooling in particular (my colleague James Shuls debunks a recent example here), you would think that if a charter school came to town, a school like Mason would be doomed.  Saint Louis has one of the highest market-shares of charter schools in the nation, and yet here is Mason, thriving. Maybe folks should update their assumptions.

Kudos to the P-D for highlighting this story. Let’s continue working together to create more schools like Mason across sectors and across the state.

About the Author

Michael McShane
Mike McShane is the Director of Education Policy for the Show-Me Institute. He is a former high school teacher and earned his PhD in Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. Before coming to the Show-Me Institute, Mike worked at the American Enterprise Institute as a research fellow.