About This School
In 2011, St. Paul Open School had 13 students for every full-time equivalent teacher. The Minnesota average is 16 students per full-time equivalent teacher.
Student Ethnicity (2011)
Students Per Teacher (2011)
Subsidized Lunch (2011)
District Spending (2010)
All Grades Science Performance
St. Paul Open School Reviews
St. Paul Open School was established back in the mid-70s in a red-brick warehouse without playgrounds on a busy commercial street as an alternative education experiment. Moved several times in its life, the small school still exists today in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.
Right from the very beginning, Open School attracted misfits. Talented but individualistic students who had the capability to succeed, but did not fit neatly into the traditional school mode. Open School promised just that – an open style education. A free-for-all of knowledge. Students, guided by parent and teacher-counselors picked their own classes, studied their own subjects and learned at their own pace. Teachers, parents and people from the outside community taught classes. Students did not have a home-room. Grades did not share the same schedule. There were no structured grades. You graduated when it was time to move on and when a set of specific core competencies (like reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic) were accomplished.
Though liberalism in the 70s was waning, shocked by the Kennedy and King assassinations, initially the school was very much an icon of the progressive education movement. It was the hippie school then. Even with 500 children from kindergarten to grade 12, there was no playground. A small park with a pond across the busy commercial street in front would have to suffice. The neighbors were sad office buildings, hanging on from the 50s. The back yard was a parking lot, fenced in to provide some semblance of a schoolyard for the dispatch and collection of children by yellow buses and moms in station wagons. Industrial business adorned the street behind the first school. Semi-trucks came and went all day, amid a constant stream of teenagers walking to local shops and bus stops.
And yet, this was a magical place. A place of learning. A place of popping bright exposure to man’s accomplishments and understandings. A Soho artist’s loft of color, imagination, experiment and freedom, plopped down into a business district and overrun with kids in patched jeans with long hair, beads and saying things like “peace, man.” It was a harvest of gold.
Four stories of once empty warehouse converted to two long corridors of activities on each floor. A carpeted lobby held large carpeted blocks for no other reason than to break-up the space and create multi-levels for the kids to hang out. And hang-out they did. The school was going at all hours. Students had to be shooed away. Tours of the curious from far and wide ran all day. Like the business around it, the converted warehouse was a beehive of activity. Whether your schedule brought you to the building or not, students stopped by, just to check-in or lunch in the basement cafeteria.
“Home Ec” was a single kitchen and sewing area in the first corridor on the right. Administration offices shared the opposite side of the lobby. Most of the younger kids activities were on the first floor. Woodworking (and other shops, such as they were), shared the basement with the cafeteria. Nothing was special about the food. No macro-biotic diets here. Just the same bland school food. The Math department with its knee-high main student body and a desk-like computer terminal spitting out the dot-to-dot pointillism of modern Snoopy art, occupied the other side of the corridor, opposite Home Ec. With match, Home Ec, children and Administration, much of the first floor was a place to be ignored by the teenagers and young adults. The lobby and the fourth floor were the places to hang out.
Courses were open to all ages. Once started, some ran forever. One was Human Sexuality, Tuesdays and Thursdays. A hit with kids from the middle grades to young adults, it ran uninterrupted for decades. Despite its popularity, the course was nick-named “Ho-Hum Sex.” Priests, gay and three-way marriages came to talk.
Science courses were open to all ages. Thursday afternoon snake feeding in the Science area on the fourth floor were a popular weekly event. Dozens of children and adults would crowd around for the feedings. A special dissection of a cat was another popular event – although the initial crowd drifted away as the members of the class continued peeling back the layers.
Courses at other schools were available. Often Open School students boarded city buses to attend other high school and/or colleges to get the level of education they needed. Like manure on flowers, the surplus of humanity and compassion filled both hearts and brains. It was the best education I ever received.
We transferred our child to this school for the new Dual Language program. We love it! The principal and staff clearly care about the kids and communicate with us regularly. It is a small school, which we like. The dual language concept is challenging our child and preparing kids for the future.