My letter to the editor appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Read it below or view the original letter to the editor.
Regarding the editorial “Whatever it takes” (March 24):
It’s brilliant and gutsy of Kelvin Adams, superintendent of the St. Louis Public Schools, to seek outside help for the students in our lowest-performing schools.
It’s exceedingly difficult to educate children who are so far behind academically. Most, if not all, of the students in the struggling schools come to school unprepared to learn. Many have health and social issues as well. They don’t know even how to write their names, and know approximately 500 words on their first day of school, when most of us knew 5,000!
Mr. Adams has tried everything: new teachers (though it’s hard to get the best teachers to teach in urban schools), new principals (even more challenging), instructional coaches, smaller classrooms, new curriculums, new textbooks. And the lowest-performing schools are still failing.
After everything has been tried, what does one do? It is not easy to find excellent folks who turn low-performing schools around. Educating our precious students in our underperforming schools is some of the most difficult work in this country. And some of the most important.
Use the analogy of having a disease. You’ve tried every treatment and surgery and you’re not getting better, and you hear of a drug that is very promising. It has been tested on humans and the data is favorable. Are you going to try it? Heck yes! It may save your life. The situation with our schools is just as dire. We will lose all of these children if we don’t do something out of the box immediately.
There are millions of people in jail who cannot read. If we procrastinate, there will be millions more. It costs over $50,000 to incarcerate an individual, and $10,000 to educate. Do the math.
Mr. Adams’ decisions will be data-driven, and he and his team will only choose the best people with proven records for our/his students. Of that I am sure.
Karen S. Kalish • Clayton