• First step: accredit SLPS

    St. Louis American

    Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012 12:05 am

    As an educator in the St. Louis Public Schools and a union leader, we welcome the great news that the district has continued to make slow, steady progress towards accreditation. Our efforts to work collaboratively with the leadership of the St. Louis Public Schools in partnership with Dr. Kelvin Adams, Superintendent of the district, and his leadership team have paid off in our being awarded seven of 14 points by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – enough to gain provisional accreditation. According to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan there is a real “renaissance” going on here. Our members are proud to be part of this new narrative.


    The very successful opening of school, the welcoming of students from the six closed Imagine charter schools, paired with the very successful expansion of pre-K classrooms, has led to an influx of new students to our city schools. We have seen a 99 percent return rate of pre-K students and a 95 percent transition rate from pre-K to kindergarten. All high schools in the City of St. Louis have already gained accreditation through North Central (a widely recognized accreditation organization).


    At a time when real, sustainable progress is being made there are still those naysayers who bash public education and the people who educate our children. Our union leadership is committed to playing a role in developing real solutions and being there for children every working day. It is not time to turn back the clock on real solutions to big educational issues just as we are working towards finding sustainable solutions. As a teacher, parent, grandparent and union president I know that in order to fix problems in public education it will involve all stakeholders’ voices being heard.


    It is time for action. First step, the State of Missouri should provisionally accredit the St. Louis Public Schools. Second, a carefully vetted plan for a slow, stabilizing transition between the appointed towards an elected board should be developed and implemented. Third, the community – including parents, business interests and civic leaders – should join in sustaining the progress we have made and resist calls by private interests in their attempt to to dismantle and destroy while they demonize those who provide public service.


    We are moving the district towards excellence in a slow, steady and recognizable way. We aren't there yet, but the path forward is clear. Our plan for mentoring new teachers while providing peer review, expanding pre-K, smaller class sizes, working on School Improvement Grant efforts, sustaining full-service, community-centered schools, bringing all stakeholders (parents, children, business leaders, faith based community, not-for-profits) together, encouraging school options such as pilot schools and district charters are among the partnerships we are trying to build upon.


    Our partnership between the district leadership and Local 420 is showing positive results. And it is time for the State of Missouri to recognize our effort.


    We will continue to work to move things forward. In St. Louis, we recognize that public education issues cannot be tackled in isolation. Dr. Adams and I won’t agree about everything, but we will continue to look for the common ground and look towards building a better future for St. Louis. It is time for those who truly care about public education to join us in writing this new narrative. Our children deserve nothing less.