It’s not often that the public schools in St. Louis draw praise. For years, the district has been beset by financial and management crises while academic achievement languished and a revolving door of superintendents armed with new reform plans came and went.
Things really bottomed out two years ago when the district lost its accreditation and began answering to a state-appointed administrative board. Or, as many folks probably see it, maybe that’s when things finally had a chance to get better.
Yesterday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan seemed to say that was the case when he and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten paid a visit to the city to highlight new partnerships that have been forged by the school district and the local teachers’ union, an AFT affiliate. In remarks to a large gathering of the city’s educators, the secretary said he thought St. Louis “could help lead the country where we need to go and St. Louis has a chance to leap frog” ahead of other places because of its leadership, collaboration, cooperation, etc.
He singled out Kelvin Adams, the district’s superintendent since last October, and union president Mary Armstrong, for their leadership.
I’m sure in places like St. Louis, where educators are used to hearing that they work in one of the worst school districts in the nation, the secretary’s words are a much-welcomed salve for wounded morale.
At right, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
Photo Credit: National Park Service
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.