Why is St. Louis Mayor Frances Slay a cheerleader for charter schools? Why is he determined to open charters–whose record in St. Louis is worse than the local public schools–instead of rebuilding his city’s public schools? Didn’t the state of Missouri recently close six Imagine charter schools in St. Louis for poor performance?

The article linked here says:

The mayor’s increasingly active engagement in attracting strong charter schools to St. Louis has put him at odds at times with school district officials who are working to revive their struggling school system. As more students leave the system for charter schools, dollars follow the students. More than 10,000 children attend charter schools in the city. Staff reductions and school closures have become an annual expectation for the school district, with enrollment numbers now under 25,000.

Slay has become more than just a cheerleader for the charter school cause. His office has directly solicited or supported the opening of nine charter schools since 2007, nurturing them as they developed and providing support they’ve needed to open their doors. Another three charter schools are scheduled to open this fall — the reason for Slay’s announcement at Gateway Science last week.

“It’s about quality choices for parents,” he said.

Since they first appeared in the city in 2001, the track record of charter schools as a group has been worse than the struggling city school system.

Charters are attracting students away from Catholic schools, which are at risk of closing as they lose students. One that recently closed was Mayor Slay’s alma mater, the Epiphany of Our Lord school. Its building has been leased to the Gateway Science Academy, a charter school that is part of the Gulen network of charter schools, with a board dominated by Turkish educators.