- Citywide Planning Committee
In The News
Citywide Plan Teams Invite the Tough Questions
November 17, 2022
Citywide Plan Teams Invite Tough Questions
Team hosts second public report at Gateway Middle School
On Wednesday, November 16, the Board of Education of the City of St. Louis hosted the second community engagement meeting of its Ad Hoc Citywide Plan for Education (CWPE).
Representatives of more than 60 leaders, from a variety of educational, community, business, and faith-based institutions, came to Gateway Middle School in the Saint Louis Public School (SLPS) district to help lead the discussion. In meetings over the past six months, they learned that it’s time to question everything we presently know about education in St. Louis. At the heart of it all is the big question, “How do we redesign the City’s educational infrastructure in support of delivering a 21st Century education to all students, no matter what school the students attend?”
Vice President and CWPE Chair Antionette “Toni” Cousins and Board President Matt Davis assured those gathered that the board’s process is a transformative one and not your typical plan. Davis said, “You hear about organizations creating a plan for this and a plan for that… this is not that kind of plan.” He added, “Raise your hand if you are satisfied with the status quo.” The audience of parents, educators and community raised their voices instead, clearly establishing their desire to engage in a type of creative disruption. Davis said, “Sure, the work at times is uncomfortable, it’s tough and it gets messy at times, but we are here for the children.”
Each audience member was assigned to one of five work groups: School Experience, Infrastructure, Education Workforce, Community and Health and Well-being. These areas were targeted for improvement in the 2020-2021 Saint Louis Public Schools Community Visioning process and later adopted as guideposts in the planning process.
Each team was asked to question the current education system in St. Louis. The idea was to allow the questions that arose to help inform the committee’s next moves. Cousins explained, “We have our champions (workgroup co-chairs) and community stakeholders at the table. They are working together to identify our guiding questions for each group as well as how and what each group will be looking for in building what we are calling a ‘blueprint’ for education.”
“Dr. Laverne Carter and the team at peopleareeverything.biz are doing a marvelous job,” said Cousins. “It takes a lot of work – the ad hoc committee has been meeting once a month and others biweekly (for the past six months), to gear up, gather expert input and acquire data that will lead to a final opinion on what this project will look like.”
Cousins said, “I want people to understand this is definitely not something that is going to be left on the shelf. All entities are at the table so we will be able to work with this blueprint throughout the years.” In the meantime, Cousins says, there will be more opportunities for the community to interact over the next two months.
Alluding to recent acts of violence at two SLPS schools and a non-school event at the charter Lift for Life, whose leaders were at the table, Cousins observed, “With everything we see that’s going on in the City, it is imperative that everyone has input and a stake in what we are trying to do in redesigning education in the City of St. Louis.”
For more information, including upcoming dates, please visit slps.org/citywide.