"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Senator Cunningham Joining the Ranks of the Dispossessed

In an ironic twist, the Missouri Senator at the center of fixing the schooless children in KC and STL, finds herself without a home district.  Senator Cunningham's seventh district has been moved across the state in the latest (and probably last) redistricting map leaving her with the same unhappy choice the students in the St. Louis school district have: transfer (run in) an adjacent district (which pits her against either Brian Nieves or Eric Schmitt), or apply (move) somewhere else (like a charter school) and hope she gets in (gets elected).  That's the (senate) district choice plan. Probably doesn't feel as good to her as she imagined the school choice plan would feel to St. Louis residents.

In examining the parallels even more closely it could be said that her culpability in this outcome is the same as the parents responsibility for the failure of their district. Those parents were busy leading their lives, not paying much attention to the school or their children's academic performance.  They were making the decisions they had to make to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Meanwhile their children's test scores were slipping while the school was dropping their standards and giving the impression that everything was fine. Finally an appointed board came from the outside and told them their schools were no longer accredited and they might have to look for some place else to send their kids for an education. When they had control they didn't exercise it and now they have lost control and are faced with choice, that isn't really choice.

Senator Cunningham was busy leading her life, being a senator, making decisions, but maybe not considering the full ramifications of those decisions. The reason the redistricting was even necessary was because St. Louis City and County had seen a significant loss in population.  This was due in great part to the loss of businesses who fled the state because of our economic policies which Senator Cunningham had a large hand in creating while in the state legislature for so many years.  When you're focused on slicing up the pie for the special interest groups at the table, you may not remember to look around at all the other businesses that would like to come to the party but haven't been invited. They eventually take their appetite elsewhere which was clear in the census which showed the states surrounding Missouri all picking up population and business.

In the end some board from the outside came in and told Senator Cunningham she would have to find some other district to run in if she wanted to stay in Missouri politics. A short term problem, no doubt, for Jane. Some have hinted she has aspirations for higher office than senate in the state. But perhaps she will now have even greater empathy for those who will be affected by the school choice bill she is currently working on (SB451).


  1. What goes round, comes around!

  2. When you have to make a choice that's not really a choice, it's not fun, is it? Having a group making decisions for your life, your schooling, your job makes one feel powerless.

    Maybe she will realize how kids feel when they have to go to school on a bus 2 hours each way.


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