Governor Matt Blunt's latest appointment to the Missouri State Board of Education is not only a voucher proponent, but is a sworn enemy of public schools.
Earlier today, the governor appointed Donayle Whitmore-Smith, head of the pro-voucher group Coalition for School Choice to the board. Her leadership role in that organization was not mentioned in the press release from the governor's office:
Donayle E. Whitmore-Smith (D), 38 of St. Louis City, is the founder of the
Ptah Academy of Arts & Science. Whitmore-Smith holds a bachelor's degree in
communications from Southern University A&M College in Louisiana.
Whitmore-Smith's appointment is subject to Senate confirmation for a term
ending on July 1, 2012.
Ms. Whitmore-Smith, is not an educator, but did form the Ptah Academy a St. Louis private school.
An Oct. 16, 2001, article described the beginning of the day at the academy. "The ribbons of incense and the children who meditate beneath them at the start of each school day leave no doubt that the Ptah Academy of Arts and Sciences isn't your typical school."
The academy is named after an ancient Egyptian god and "includes of elements of ancient spiritualism in its instruction," according to the Post-Dispatch article, which continues, "The school is not religious, Whitmore said, but it does encourage children to tap in to their 'spiritual energy.' "
The article indicated the school included "yoga, organic meals, tai chi and daily 'inner studies' or sessions of meditation" in its curriculum.
In a February 2005 article in the pro-voucher publication School Reform News, Ms. Whitmore-Smith said that she had attended private schools until high school and her experience at a public school was "hell."
Ms. Whitmore-Smith said, "Academically, it just couldn't match what I'd been getting (in private schools)."
Ms. Whitmore-Smith was one of the leading proponents of unsuccessful pro-voucher legislation that was considered this year in the General Assembly.
(Photo: Ms. Whitmore-Smith is shown with Rep. Rodney Hubbard, Governor Matt Blunt, and Rep. Ted Hoskins. The two Democratic representatives, both voucher proponents, were recently placed in charge of the Special Committee on School Choice by Speaker of the House Rod Jetton.)