This school year, Hawthorn Leadership Academy opened its doors as the first all-girls public charter school in Missouri. Now, the state Board of Education has approved an application for a second all-girls public charter school—Tessera Hall.
Tessera Hall will open to sixth- and seventh-graders, but will expand to include grades 8 through 12 in South St. Louis City during the 2016–2017 academic year. As the Post-Dispatch reported, a group of St. Elizabeth Academy alumni started working to build the school after St. Elizabeth closed in 2013.
Like the once private, religious De La Salle Middle School, which reopened this year as a public charter school, St. Elizabeth struggled with enrollment. Mike McShane, who recently joined the Show-Me Institute as the Director of Education Policy, wrote about this phenomenon in Sector Switchers: Why Catholic Schools Convert to Charters and What Happens Next. While charters like La Salle no longer deliver a religious education, access to public dollars allows them to remain open, ultimately carrying on their mission—providing a quality educational service to a low-income population.
Tessera Hall’s charter school application says it plans to recruit young women in low-performing schools like Roosevelt High School, where 70% of girls score below basic in mathematics. The application reads:
The proposed mission, curriculum, teaching methods and services of Tessera Hall Academy are designed to meet the particular needs of the adolescent urban girls of St. Louis by providing an inclusive and academically challenging experience in a safe, affirming, and empowering environment that enables these young women to achieve success in college, become civicminded leaders, and be resilient life-long learners.
I look forward to hearing more about the state’s second single gender public charter school, as well as other future charter school options. The Missouri State Board of Education accepts charter school applications up until the December board meeting.
Single gender or mixed, students need more quality educational choices.