The Post-Dispatch editors gave a much-deserved tribute to Superintendents Tiffany Anderson and Kelvin Adams in the editorial "The true measure of education reforms" (Feb. 10). Both leaders have ushered in transformational opportunities.
In the case of St. Louis Pubic Schools, the editors missed an essential point. Adams' true gift is that the district’s culture has forever changed. Adams’ no-nonsense leadership style, zeal for data and prioritization of equity have enduring roots.
When he came, school leaders couldn’t tell you which schools were making the most progress and why. Now, walk into neighborhoods schools both north and south, and you will find teachers who work together to carve out customized, data-informed plans for students.
Eight years ago, the district was fortresslike, wary of community partners. Today, educators reach out to businesses, nonprofits and universities to get the job done. Effective programs such as early childhood education, support services, parent engagement and postsecondary counseling will continue to flourish even if Adams departs, because he’s built the case that high-poverty districts like SLPS must do more than simply focus on academics.
Every day, Adams coaches a team of aspiring leaders. He teaches them to problem-solve, make tough decisions and put ego aside. St. Louis owes enormous gratitude to Kelvin Adams, and hopefully his tenure will continue. But St. Louis should not default to underestimating itself. Adams’ accomplishments include building a deep bench of highly motivated educators who are capable of continuing the momentum.
Jane Donahue • St. Louis
President, St. Louis Public Schools Foundation