Opinion: VICC should remain in operation

Displayed+are+statistics+from+MO+Department+of+Education.+Created+by+Alex+McAteer.
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Opinion: VICC should remain in operation

Displayed are statistics from MO Department of Education. Created by Alex McAteer.

Displayed are statistics from MO Department of Education. Created by Alex McAteer.

Displayed are statistics from MO Department of Education. Created by Alex McAteer.

Displayed are statistics from MO Department of Education. Created by Alex McAteer.

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The Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC) program is something that my generation, the Class of 2018, here at MHS has been around, but may have never been fully aware of.

The VICC program gives students who live within St. Louis city limits the opportunity to attend many schools in districts across the county. The goal of the program is to allow students whose assigned public schools do not provide comprehensive education, or even in some cases unaccredited education, to attend better schools and receive a better education, while also diversifying the population of county schools.

However, now the program is set to be phased out. No new students will be admitted to the program after 2024, unless they are siblings of students that are enrolled prior to 2024.

Sixteen districts make up the board that runs VICC, with one representative from each participating school district. This includes Rockwood Superintendent Dr. Eric Knost. At the meeting on Nov. 18, 2016, the VICC board voted to not extend the program for regular operation, but instead to start winding down VICC services.

To truly understand the VICC program, we have to understand the history behind it.

In 1972, the state of Missouri was sued for maintaining a segregated school system. By 1980, the U.S Court of Appeals ruled that indeed Missouri had maintained segregation. Hence they established the predecessor to the VICC program, a settlement agreement that allowed black students who went to school in the city to attend primarily white schools in the county paid in full by the state of Missouri. Then in 1999, federal supervision of the prior program ceased and the VICC program began, essentially a reorganizing with the same goals, though with no federal involvement.

The closure of VICC signals that schools within St. Louis city are improving. However, they are nowhere near as successful as many of their counterparts in St. Louis County.

According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the 2016 dropout rate for St. Louis city school district is 15.7 percent compared to Rockwood’s 0.6 percent. In the St. Louis School District, there were 682 disciplinary incidents while in Rockwood there were only 157. Even accounting for the student population, the rate of disciplinary action is only 0.7 percent compared to St. Louis School District’s 3 percent.

This rate is roughly 4.29 times Rockwood’s rate.

The VICC program has provided a unique setting for many students in my generation. It has allowed us to be around a far more diverse group of people. It makes us more tolerant of people and teaches us from an early age that people who may not look the same as us are not scary. They are just people, no different than you or I. The closure of the VICC program would completely negate this effect. Taking away the exposure to other people from different places at a young age may not inherently breed racism, but it can allow for more prejudice to enter young moldable minds, not because they are being taught wrong, but merely because they don’t understand otherwise.        

I propose an extension at the very least. The root problem of segregation still echoes throughout our halls today. We have come a long way but the schools in the cities are not yet at par with the schools in the county. Until we do meet this standard, we have to combat the problem however we can, and that means continuing to give new generations opportunities to not just get an “accredited” education, but a good one.

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