“To Whom Much Is Given, Much Will Be Required”, an article in Sophisticated Living, by Craig Kaminer. The article starts in on page 26.
I am honored to be one of four “St. Louis Women Making History in Education” in The Argus, along with Dr. Tiffany Anderson, Dr. Doris Graham, and Dr. Latonia Collins Smith. Article on page A9.
The design of the 5,900 square foot, six-bedroom, six-bath Second Empire residence was inspired by the Missouri Building at the 1904 World’s Fair.
Regarding “Missouri’s Capitol set for $300 million makeover” (April 21): What is the Missouri Legislature thinking? They want to renovate the state Capitol while voting against pay raises for teachers. Missouri currently ranks last in the U.S. for starting teacher salaries, at $32,000 per year. Some of Missouri’s teachers earn less than minimum wage in some districts. Gov. Mike Parson proposed allocating only $22 million to raise our teacher salaries to $38,000 a year, which is still pitiful. This is about our teachers, the ones who educate our children, including the children of lawmakers. Their salaries should be doubled or tripled to recruit and retain them.
Low pay is a big reason why so many teachers are leaving the profession. It’s tough to work hard all day at school and need a second job to pay the bills. We also need to pay the school support staff better as well.
Capitol renovations should only be considered if our teachers are the highest paid in the country. The fact that Missouri is dead last in teacher pay, below Montana and Mississippi, is beyond disgraceful.
Karen S. Kalish • Clayton
Photos by Zachary Clingenpeel
Karen Kalish knew she wanted to buy her house the moment she saw it in 2001. Now the home, built in 1910 and inspired by the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair Missouri Building, is filled with artwork, colorful walls and stories. Kalish has painted every wall in her house a different color. Each of the many art pieces found throughout the home are accompanied by name plates identifying the artists.
I am honored to be named one of 14 “Champions for Diversity & Inclusion” by the St. Louis Business Journal.
Published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on September 19, 2021
Regarding Tony Messenger’s column “Teach for America changes its focus amid difficult times for public schools” (Sept. 14): It’s no wonder so many teachers are leaving this much-needed profession because they have to deal with more problems than ever before. Too many of our students have had rough childhoods, and schools don’t have the staff skilled enough to deal with that.
A very real issue is what is not happening before our children start school. Too many enter school a year or two behind because of inadequate reading, talking, playing and singing in their homes from birth. Many don’t know their colors, letters or shapes, or how to write their names. And there is just no way to catch up. This is where the school-to-prison pipeline begins.
Two big reasons for this are that their parents work two and three jobs just to survive, and many are not aware of the importance of reading, talking and playing because they did not experience them when they were growing up. Poverty plays an enormous part.
Research shows that those who come to school already behind rarely catch up. University-level schools of education turn out teachers who have few to no classes on the crucial relationships between parents and teachers, school and home.
We need every one of these children to enter school ready to learn, stay on or above grade level, graduate from high school and go on to college, or some other post-secondary institution and enter our workforce. Not the workhouse.
Karen Kalish • St. Louis
I recently considered selling my house and while it was listed, my house caught some attention on an Instagram account called Zillow Gone Wild, and then KMOX reported about that.
UPDATE: Then Ladue News did, too!
Here’s the Ladue News article by Andrea Smith…
The whimsical, vibrant interior design of this Clayton home has gained attention across the globe, with some calling it an “‘Alice in Wonderland’ mansion.” The home was featured on the Zillow Gone Wild Instagram account followed by 1.2 million people when it was listed on the market with Kirkwood’s Tadlock Brueggemann Real Estate.
The interior designer, Michael Wyrock, says he drew inspiration from the client’s unique personal items and eclectic art collection. Wyrock is the owner and senior designer of Nistenhaus Design, a St. Louis architectural and interior design firm, and Warehaus by Nistenhaus.
“This property is such a good example of how we see our clients’ homes being an expression of them as individuals,” he describes. “The approach in this home is to bring excitement to the inhabitants of its rooms. When being met with so many examples of vibrant art and a rainbow of paint and fabrics, it’s hard for a visitor not to press on, room by room, to see what each has in store for them. So I guess in that respect, there is a story unfolding that keeps you guessing, much like a fairy tale.”
Bold color and exuberant patterns and textures define the living area shown here. Wyrock points out the dazzling portrait of the late U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as one of the most intriguing pieces of art in this space.
“It is such a true expression of both the subjects’ larger-than-life presence and the client’s love of fabulous execution of color and texture, wrapped up in a mixed-media piece for the ages,” Wyrock muses. “The piece was ceremoniously installed only weeks prior to the passing of RBG and in many ways will serve as a perpetual memorial of her legacy.”
The original work by metro area-based artist Zack Smithey features thousands of colorful gems representing “RBG’s strength, personality and vibrancy,” according to Smithey’s website.
Wyrock acknowledges that the colors in this space might appear excessive to some, but says the success of an interior design depends on how it makes the homeowner feel.
“Colors that are personal to the inhabitants can have literal effects on the mood of the owner and change your days for the better,” he explains. “Many people can afford to be more daring in their design choices. If your choice can make you smile, it will also be something that will spark joy in others too, and [that’s] worth the risk!”
This article appeared in The Jewish Light on July 15, 2021.
Link to the original article.
After having served as CEO, on July 1 Karen Kalish assumed the role of Director of Philanthropic Partnerships at Home Works! The Teacher Home Visit Program, which she founded 14 years ago. The program has trained and paid hundreds of teachers who have made tens of thousands of home visits in 116 schools since its inception. These teachers work with parents to help improve their children’s classroom performance.
A native St. Louisan, Kalish lived in Washington, D.C. for 27 years, Chicago for five years and Cambridge, Mass. for two years. She taught school for six years at Sidwell Friends School in Washington before becoming the consumer and investigative reporter for CBS-TV there. In 1978 she had the same beat for ABC-TV in Chicago, and then was the Washington reporter/producer for “Entertainment Tonight.”
In 1987, she started Kalish Communications to teach clients how to talk to the media without putting their foot in their mouth and how to write and give dynamic, interesting speeches and presentations. She has served on the boards of directors of many nonprofits from the NAACP to the Jewish Community Center in Washington and has won many awards for her community service including a Purpose Prize Fellowship and the NCCJ Brotherhood and Sisterhood Award.
In 1994, she started Operation Understanding DC in Washington. This yearlong leadership program, for Black and Jewish high school students, teaches them about their own and each other’s race, religion, culture, and history.
In 2001, Kalish returned to St. Louis (after being gone for 34 years), where she continues to work on education transformation and establishing a level playing field for the minority community, especially African Americans. She began several programs here including:
- HOME WORKS! The Teacher Home Visit Program, which trains, supports and pays teachers to go to the homes of their struggling students to get their families engaged in their children’s education. HOME WORKS! teachers build trust and relationships to partner with parents to improve academic achievement, attendance, classroom behavior, and homework completion.
- Books and Badges, which partners with St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department recruits and other reading partners with St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) elementary students to improve reading and language skills.
- Cultural Leadership, which is a yearlong educational leadership program for high school students to teach them about civil rights, social justice and democracy, and how to be activists, advocates and change agents to rid America of racism and all forms of discrimination to make the United States a country with justice, equity, and opportunity for all.
Kalish, who lives in Clayton and attends Central Reform Congregation, is the author of “How to Give a Terrific Presentation, Dealing Effectively with the Media,” and “I’ll See You On The Radio.”
HOME WORKS! is the only organization in the St. Louis region that trains, supports and pays teachers to go to the homes of their struggling students – virtually, now – to get their parents engaged in their education.
Too many of our low-performing students are starting school one and two years behind because there was little to no reading and talking from birth. Before COVID-19, Missouri public school students were in school 13.9% of each year (174 school days a year times 7 hours a day). The rest of the time (summer, vacations, weekends, and the part of the day they are not sleeping or in school) are key opportunities for learning, but too often little is going on academically at home.
Schools can’t do 100% of the work in less than 14% of the time. They must have academic support from the home for the students to succeed in school and in life.
HOME WORKS! trains teachers, empowers families, and supports schools by building trust and connection between parents and teachers, home and school. During the virtual home visits teachers and parents set goals and review grade-level expectations; and parents learn about their child’s school performance, how to work and play with their children at home to increase academic achievement, and are urged to read and talk with their children daily.
“Opening the communication with certain parents has been the greatest, positive moment. Every HOME WORKS! virtual home visit has helped those relationships tremendously. Parents are asking for more virtual meetings after having the virtual home visit. I have seen kids’ grades and attendance improve.” – Teacher, Eagle College Prep, Fox Park
March 2, 2021
(link to original letter)
I had no idea the great Rev. C.T. Vivian was from Missouri (“Missouri rushes to honor Limbaugh but ignores civil rights hero C.T. Vivian,” Feb. 27). I am excited and elated to know that. What a wonderful man he was. He has been a hero of mine for many years.
I have known all about his illustrious days from the Civil Rights era — heck, he participated in a sit-in in 1947 — as part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Freedom Rides. But I never knew that he spent his first six years in the Show Me State. And Boonville of all places — a wonderful community where I’ve worked in the schools.
I have already sent the column to the superintendent. Brian Kaylor deserves thanks for bringing this to readers’ attention. I, for one, am bursting with pride. Where shall we erect a proper memorial, or two?
In 1994, I heard about a program in Philadelphia for Black and Jewish high school students. Operation Understanding. Its mission was to have the young people from the then two most-disliked groups in America learn about their own and each other’s race, religion, culture and history.
I wanted to learn about it and possibly start it in Washington, DC which I did, with their permission and cooperation, of course. I called it Operation Understanding DC (OUDC) and it continues to this day. It is a year-long leadership program with nine Sunday programs, three weekend retreats and a three week eye-opening summer trip to NYC, Philadelphia, DC, Atlanta, all over Alabama and Mississippi, Little Rock and Memphis to meet people and see sights that have to do with civil rights, social justice and democracy.
In the second year, the students wanted to meet the Blacks and Jews on the Supreme Court. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer. Justices Ginsburg and Thomas responded to my letters immediately and invited us to come to the court on a Tuesday morning in October, 1996. (Justice Breyer never responded.)
Both justices could not have been more gracious to the students and their families that morning in the Lawyers Lounge of the U. S. Supreme Court. Justice Ginsburg had done her homework on our group and thoughtfully shared the story of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down laws banning interracial marriage as violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Justice Thomas shared his life and they were both open to any and all questions from the students. Justice Thomas enjoyed a photo op with each student and his/her parent under the portrait of Thurgood Marshall. Every class of OUDC has visited both Justices ever since.
In 1999, I turned OUDC over to the board and went off to the Harvard Kennedy School to get a master’s in public policy (at age 54 I might add!). Two years later I moved back to St. Louis after being gone for 34 years. A few years later, I started a similar leadership program for high school students there. It is called Cultural Leadership (CL). As I was putting the program together I wrote both Justices Ginsburg and Thomas saying, “It’s me again! I started a similar program here in St. Louis and we are coming to DC in June and would love to meet with you”. I got letters back from both with the same message – June is our busiest month – it’s when the decisions come down – and we are not available”. I was crestfallen but there was nothing I could do. (The St. Louis program goes on their summer journey in June as soon as school is out so the students can get jobs for the rest of the summer.)
A few years later I turned CL over to the board (good founders have a succession plan rather than staying too long which is called Founders Disease!) and started another nonprofit, my third: HOME WORKS! The Teacher Home Visit Program (HW!). Before the pandemic we trained, supported and paid teachers to go to the homes of their struggling students to get their parents and families engaged in their education. A few years after I started HW!, I got a call from an elementary school principal in Columbia, Missouri, Peter Stiepleman. He had heard about HOME WORKS! and wanted to talk about putting it in his school. He said he would be in St. Louis in September and could we have lunch and talk about teacher home visits. Of course, I said. In August he called and said his wife and kids were coming with him and was there a restaurant nearby where they could have lunch while he and I talked about parent and family engagement in his school. Of course, I said, but your wife and kids? Where are you going? “Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my aunt, he said. We’re going to Washington for Yom Kippur!” I hung up the phone and shouted at the top of my lungs, “Thank you Moses! Thank you Jesus!” The universe had intervened and I was walking on air at the possibility. I immediately wrote Justice Ginsburg a letter similar to the one I had written several years ago – Hey, it’s me again, and I’d love to have the students in St. Louis/Cultural Leadership meet with you. Peter gave her the letter that night at their family dinner at her apartment in the Watergate and four days later I had a handwritten note from her in my mailbox inviting us to be at the Supreme Court the following June 17 at 4 pm. Nine months later! And we were and have been every year since! In fact, the CL class 13 was in the documentary about RBG 14 times! Even though I was no longer involved in CL, I would join the trip in DC for their time with the Justices. I always had a few words with her and with the added connection to her nephew, we had a few things to talk about.
I knew that she loved the opera and St. Louis has a great opera company so I began sending her the program every June. In fact, I had invited her to our opera but got the same response I had gotten years before – June is our busiest month… and I always got a thank you note.
In November 2019 I was introduced to a local artist, Zack Smithey, who had made a portrait of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra out of jewels. It was stunning and I had to have one. Who do you want? he asked. Without hesitation, I said, RBG. He and I went online to choose an image and he made it and it is beyond fantastic. I had to send her a picture of it. I also had other things I wanted to tell her: I had listened to her book and was moved, and wanted to send her an article I had written about tikkun olam, and had read that she went shopping in NYC and I have a great list of stores; and Nina Totenberg had mentioned her in a speech she gave in St. Louis. So I wrote her – all of it and more. And she wrote back almost immediately with a wonderful newsy letter and a beautifully-written piece – a reading – she had written on the women of Passover that has become a staple at many Seders nationwide.
A month later, I participated in three zoom Seders and her reading was included in all of them. I had to tell her. I also thought she’d be interested in reading about the African American orthodox convert to Judaism young man who lives in my house. I was right. Another letter from her saying how much she and her daughter Jane liked that story. (Jane was living with her by then.)
Then, at the end of May, my synagogue decided to have a talent show they called the Oy Vey Café. I signed up to tell six Jewish jokes. It was a weird experience as I told my jokes into my computer screen with no feedback. I didn’t know if folks were laughing – or not. It turns out they were as I learned when the complimentary emails and texts came into my phone after my performance. I don’t know why but I somehow thought Justice Ginsburg might like these jokes so I sent them to her. And she did! How did I find out? She emailed me! I have an email from RBG! I forwarded it to her nephew Peter with the message, ‘OMG! Look what I just got!’ I wrote. I show it to anyone breathing in my presence! And since then we had become email penpals! I ended my letters to her with the same sentence: I’m going to echo and repeat what everyone I know says and thinks – STAY WELL JUSTICE GINSBURG! We need you desperately.
P.S. And now I join the country mourning our loss of this wonderful woman who always did the right thing. A female mensch – a fensch – if ever there was one. KK
I had the honor of speaking to 450 women at the Women’s Cultural Alliance (WCA) “Welcome Back” Luncheon in Naples, FL in November 2019. It was a wonderful event focused on friendship – maintaining old and making new – and I was thrilled to talk about seeing a problem and finding allies to help fix it. Read all about it in The Federation Star here.
ST. LOUIS – Dozens of teachers, parents, and students met at STIX Early Childhood Center Monday night for a dinner and to learn about the “HOME WORKS! Teacher Home Visit Program.” The program is currently in 29 schools in Missouri.
It trains, supports and helps pay teachers to visit with parents and students at their home. The goal is to help out with homework, disciplinary issues and to get students more engaged in learning. Staff with the program said students who received just one home visit, score 5% higher on STAR reading tests.
‘Karen’s Parties’ encourage young professionals to sink roots in St. Louis
BY BILL MOTCHAN, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT
Many young professionals in St. Louis covet an invitation to what’s become known as Karen’s Party.
Officially, the gatherings are called Meet New People Parties, but the popular extreme networkingdinner parties are closely associated with Karen Kalish. That’s understandable, because Kalish came up with the idea and carefully orchestrates the events.
While networking events are common, Kalish’s Meet New People concept is not. There is no cost to attend, though there are a few rules: you must between the ages of 23 and 35, a college graduate and live in the St. Louis area. And there is one more. [Read more…]
What is Home Works!, and why did you launch it? I started Home Works! because there are thousands of kids in our region and in the country who come to school already two or three years behind. There is no reading, talking or learning at home for some of them. A lot of parents have multiple jobs and don’t always have the time, or a lot of times the parents didn’t have a good education themselves and they don’t know the importance. So Home Works! trains, supports and pays teachers to go to homes of students and get their families engaged. We want these kids to stay on the level, graduate on time and go on to school or some sort of trade school. [Read more…]
Host Steve Potter interviewed me for this segment, which aired on August 7, 2018. (http://stltv.net)
The program I spend most of my time on – HOME WORKS! The Teacher Home Visit Program – was featured on our local Fox station’s morning show on Saturday, November 25! Here’s the online write-up and a link to the video…
ST. LOUIS – HOME WORKS! is the St. Louis-based teacher home-visit program that trains, supports and helps pay teachers to visit with the parents and families of struggling students to get them engaged in helping their children’s education. This program is in eight school districts in Missouri in the 2018-19 school year.
HOME WORKS! aims to improve academic achievement, attendance, classroom behavior, parental engagement, homework completion and attitudes about school, and decrease discipline issues.
Karen Kalish, Founder and CEO of HOME WORKS! was a winner of the 2017 Roslyn S. Jaffe Award for its work with struggling students.
HOME WORKS! The Teacher Home Visit Program received a $25,000 Roslyn S. Jaffe Award grant for our high-caliber leadership and innovative, high-impact program benefiting children and women. I am SO excited! I accepted the award at the Fourth Annual Roslyn S. Jaffe Awards Luncheon on October 26th in New York City, hosted by Soledad O’Brien.
The Roslyn S. Jaffe Awards is a not-for-profit foundation to honor the lifelong contributions of Roslyn S. Jaffe, founder of the Ascena retail group, inc., a multi-billion dollar family of brands including dressbarn, Anne Taylor, and Lane Bryant. Starting in 2014, the awards recognize three “pioneering individuals who have persevered in their commitment to making the world a better place for women and/or children in the areas of health, education, social reform, and self-esteem.” Last year, the program received over 2,000 applications. I am so proud and humbled that HOME WORKS! is in the company of other great nonprofits.
NCCJ ST. LOUIS ANNOUNCES 72ND BROTHERHOOD SISTERHOOD AWARD HONOREES
Event Chair Bob Holmes of Commerce Bank celebrates local leaders for equity and social justice
St. Louis, MO, May 10, 2017 – This summer, NCCJ St. Louis is celebrating the strides we are making to build a better region for all of us, and honoring six community leaders who blaze a trail for inclusion, justice, and equity. The honorees for NCCJ’s 72nd Brotherhood Sisterhood Awards are:
- Kira Hudson Banks, PhD, Saint Louis University
- Don Danforth III, City Academy
- Rob Good, Ladue School District
- Karen Kalish, Serial Social Entrepreneur
- Susan Stith, Express Scripts
A write up in the Post Dispatch about crowd-sourcing some new new bicycles for high-school students who had never owned a bike before. Click here to go to the original article.
Karli Anderson, center, takes a photo with Samantha Lurie, left, Oteria Lawrence, CaRosa Johnson and Taylor Powell before they ride their bikes from Clayton to Vashon and Gateway STEM high schools. (Photo by Ashley Jost, firstname.lastname@example.org)
CLAYTON • Eleven St. Louis high school students pedaled away from Karen Kalish’s Clayton home Saturday on their new bicycles — for some, it was the first bike they had ever owned.
Kalish will chalk it up to luck and the power of community, and she isn’t wrong.
But a good idea has to start somewhere.
Kalish recently helped students from Gateway STEM and Vashon high schools bolster their public speaking skills as they worked on a fundraising goal for a trip to Central America. The students are part of St. Louis schools’ Show Me Costa Rica Project.
Samantha Lurie, dean of students at Vashon, organized the project five years ago and travels to Costa Rica with a handful of students each year to study biology, among other things.
In the process of raising money for the trip, Lurie said the students shared personal information about themselves. One student mentioned she had never learned how to ride a bike.
Turns out, she wasn’t the only one, and only two of the 14 students even owned bicycles, Lurie said.
This bothered Kalish, who runs a nonprofit focused on helping children through teacher home visits.
“I want every kid in the city to have the same thing as the kids here in Clayton,” she said.
Kalish dropped an email to 100 of her closest friends, asking if anyone had a bicycle in their garage or basement that they wouldn’t mind giving up. A week or so later, 11 bikes showed up in her garage.
Most needed some work done before she could give them to the teenagers, so she sent another email out.
A friend connected her with Gary Mazzola, retired Parkway South High School principal, who agreed to fix all of the bicycles for free.
Washington University and developer Michael Staenberg donated locks and helmets so the teens would get a package deal with their new rides.
All Kalish asked is that the students write thank you cards, as she says an “attitude of gratitude is really important.”
The value of Kalish’s work to put everything together wasn’t lost on Karli Anderson, a junior at Vashon High School.
“It’s been two years since I’ve had my own bike,” she said. “I appreciate her doing what she did for the project this year. She didn’t have to get the bikes, get the locks, and I feel like it’s going to be really enjoyable thing for us.”
The students rode with their teachers to Kalish’s house and got fitted for their bicycles before riding back to their high schools on their new rides.
Along the way, the student groups split up and went to either Vashon, a seven-mile ride, or Gateway STEM, which is more than six miles away. St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams came along for the ride, as did a few teachers.
Anderson joked that she was a little hesitant about riding more than seven miles from Kalish’s house to Vashon.
“You have to think, when was the last time you did something for the first time?” she said. “You don’t want to miss out on something just because you feel like, ‘No, I’m not doing it.’ You have to try it and see what that experience will be like, or you will end up mad at yourself.”
So she went, as did the other students.
Clayton police escorted them to the city limits, and St. Louis police escorted them from there.
“It’s an absolute community effort,” Kalish said, pointing to the show of support from friends after her emails. “A lot of people won’t ask for things, but I’ll ask for anything if it helps the kids.”
Carrie Edelstein did a great piece called “A Force of Nature” on me in the March/April 2016 issue of Sophisticated Living magazine.
A Force of Nature – Carrie Edelstein
The Royal Vagabonds was founded in 1930 by a small group of Black professionals and businessmen to provide college scholarships for deserving high-school seniors.
I’m honored and thrilled to receive this award for Excellence in Leadership that recognizes individuals and organizations who are leading the way in taking the non-profit, public and/or private sectors to greater heights, as well as strengthening civic engagement in the St. Louis Region.
In St. Louis, police officers have come together to help promote literacy among local children by joining the Books-and-Badges program. In fact, being a tutor for a child is mandatory for becoming a city police officer. For nearly a decade, police recruits have been partnered with children.
Read more on Free from the Fire
The Harvard Kennedy School Magazine recently ran a feature story called “Friendly Persuasion” about my work in the St. Louis schools.
Read the article here: Friendly Persuasion
Photograph by Whitney Curtis /AP
Sheree Nielsen – a writer for Missouri Life magazine – recently wrote a feature on my home that appears in the August 2015 issue of the magazine. She also included the piece on her blog:
A World’s Fair Home by Sheree Nielsen
Some students will be getting those desks and bookcases made from donated synagogue pews recycled and rebuilt by Roosevelt High School students…
Last Thursday, January 15, I was on St. Louis on the Air discussing HOME WORKS! The Teacher Home Visit Program along with Hazelwood Southeast Middle School teacher Kimberly Merrill, Watkins Early Childhood Center teacher Catherine Moore, and Adams Elementary School principal Cameron Coleman.
I appeared on Don Marsh’s St. Louis on the Air with Department Detective Deandree Davis, Officer Darius Rutling, and Woerner Elementary School principal Peggy Meyer to discuss Books & Badges.
Chris King of The St. Louis American wrote this story about a group of people coming together to help kids. I am proud that I got the ball rolling on this, but amazed and grateful for the group of people who did this – it wouldn’t have happened without EVERYONE. This is an example of what’s possible when you “grab an ally, or two, or three, roll up your sleeves, and get to work.”
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
Brentwood would be lucky to get Boys Hope Girls Hope
March 31, 2013
I would be honored to live next door to Boys Hope Girls Hope.
I’ve been a supporter and donor of Boys Hope Girls Hope for several years, and I’m a demanding donor. I mostly give to programs having to do with literacy, ending racism and leveling the playing field for minorities, especially African-Americans. I only give to programs that have a clear vision and mission, and well-defined outcomes with outside, independent evaluation to make sure they are achieving their outcomes and goals. And they are.
I have known several bright young people who have had such heartbreaking life circumstances who, thank goodness, found their way to Boys Hope Girls Hope. And we, all of us in our community, are lucky they did. No telling what would have happened to them if they hadn’t. Jail? Continuing the cycle of poverty?
It is not easy to get into Boys Hope Girls Hope. They have strict standards and high expectations. The young people have to be drug and alcohol free, free of serious emotional or behavioral problems or learning disabilities, and academically capable and motivated. And they are.
Boys Hope Girls Hope has been so successful that it has spread to 15 cities and four other countries.
The outcomes are stellar – 100 percent of their participants go to college and almost all graduate. Boys Hope Girls Hope makes sure these young people get the love, the support and the education they need to be successful adults and part of the educated, trained workforce we so desperately need.
Brentwood, you’d be lucky to get a Boys Hope Girls Hope house in your community. Very lucky.
My home was featured in the October 12, 2011 issue of Town & Style.
My home was also featured in a special to the Post Dispatch!
All photos by Laurie Skrivan – email@example.com
My letter to the editor in the P-D
I am sick of studies that appear to show that St. Louis is dangerous. It’s not. Another such “study” was reported earlier this month.
A few years ago, I did a ride-along with the St. Louis Police. I was allowed to choose any jurisdiction, any day, any time. I chose north St. Louis from 7 p.m. to midnight on a Saturday. And it was boring. Yes, boring.
Initially, it was exciting to ride in a police car, to watch how the police look at what’s going on in a totally different way than you and I do, to see the computer, to hear other cops talk on the two-way, to meet with other officers along the way for a quick chat. But action? No. Danger? Not that night.
There was a break-in in a building, but no one was there and nothing was taken. There was a stolen car in an alley. No one was there. There was a small marital dispute. Period. And that was Saturday night in north St. Louis, seven to midnight.
I had the same opportunity in Washington, D.C., a few years earlier. I chose the same night, same time, in Anacostia, an area of the nation’s capital that many feel is the most dangerous. There were murders and drug busts and knives and guns and beatings. We raced from one dangerous situation to another all night long, the lights atop the police car blazing. I wasn’t allowed out of the car at times because of danger. There wasn’t one idle moment that night in D.C.
I am a 65-year-old white, privileged woman, and I am in north St. Louis often. I never have felt as if I weren’t safe. I visit Holy Trinity School; I read with my mentee at Confluence Academy; I have coffee at the new coffee house near Crown Candy with Rod Jones, president of Grace Hill; I go to Dunbar Elementary and Vashon High School. I went door-to-door for then for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. There is police presence everywhere and a lot of friendly people who are glad to see you.
People should not believe all those trumped-up reports that have no basis in fact. All kinds of people with no credibility can make statistics say anything they want and send a press release.
Karen Kalish • Clayton