ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The Missouri Charter Public School Association is defending a state education commissioner who allegedly consulted an advocacy group funded by political activist Rex Sinquefield.

The St. Louis County branch of the NAACP is the latest group to call for the resignation of Chris Nicastro, the state’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

Missouri Charter Public School Association Executive Director Douglas Thaman is disappointed by such calls, saying people don’t have all the facts necessary to make clear judgements on what to do to help struggling districts.

“I think there are a lot of different opinions on how to go about doing that and we end up tripping over adult egos and adult decisions in really making meaningful impact,” Thaman says.

Last month, the Missouri National Education Association obtained emails showing Nicastro consulted the Children’s Education Council of Missouri, an advocacy group which some say is opposed to public education.

The revelation has raised questions about Nicastro’s objectivity in the statewide debate over how to improve failing school districts but Thaman says Nicastro’s critics are missing a critical point.

“Charter schools are public schools. So you’re not draining from the funds actually following the child which is where parents’ tax dollars for education should go,” he argues.

There are 46 charter schools in Missouri, all in Kansas City and St. Louis, with nearly 20,000 students.

As for the recent closure of some charter schools, Thaman says those which closed represent the real promise of charter schools, that if they aren’t performing they will cease to exist.


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