• Letter to the Editor: Promoting a different image for St. Louis schools

    4/10/14

    The front-page article ("It's got to stop," April 5) about violence afflicting city students, particularly those in St. Louis Public Schools, was yet another heart-wrenching account of the problems SLPS students face. However, the article was disheartening not only because of its subject — the very real threat of violence that shadows students living in impoverished, drug-ridden neighborhoods —  but even more so because through the story and its bold headline, the Post-Dispatch once again defines city schools in terms of crime, violence and loss.

    Here is another story of what happens in St. Louis Public Schools. On the same day the Post-Dispatch article appeared, 104 AP students from high schools in the district gathered at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy to take mock AP exams. These students voluntarily gave up close to five hours of their time on a Saturday morning, availing themselves of this rehearsal because they want to do well on their exams in May. Over 20 AP teachers also offered their time that morning to proctor these exams because they believe in their students and in encouraging and rewarding academic achievement.

    The article quotes Superintendent Kelvin Adams' response to the violence: "'We can't ever have kids believe this is normal. Ever.'" Let me suggest that many of us have been working toward a "new normal" at SLPS: one in which the learning environment is characterized not by sounds of grief and despair but of celebration and hope, with an adrenaline rush triggered not by gunfire but by the firing synapses of students engaged in learning.

    Kathleen M. Puhr  •  St. Louis