The current mess in the St. Louis Public Schools is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the district. This is exactly what many people predicted would happen after last spring’s school board election: administrative chaos, falling enrollment, factionalized governance, fiscal uncertainty.
To fix the schools and improve them to the point that more City parents will choose them, we need to put the schools in the hands of educators who put the interests of children ahead of the interests of adults.
As I said the day the current board majority forced Dr. Creg Williams out of his job, a State takeover of the district is a needed first step. The State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education should put the district in the hands of a strong administrator with a mandate to stabilize the district and start it on the long road to recovery. If legislation is needed to make the law clear and to protect a takeover from legal challenge, the Missouri General Assembly should pass a bill the first month it is in session - and the Governor should sign it.
After the district is back on track, it should be returned to local control.
Because it will take many years to fix what ails the district, we should use the time to promote alternatives like charter and parochial schools to give all families access to a quality education while we improve the SLPS. As the City’s population continues to grow and change, more parents will be demanding good, affordable, and safe educations for their children; and more taxpayers will be demanding greater accountability for the hundreds of millions of dollars currently being spent by the SLPS.
The situation requires bold, urgent action. We have to do what is best for the kids and what is best for the City before we lose another generation to bad public schools.