James and I went out to Bill Christman's place in the Loop the other night. We sat in the garden, drinking a beer and catching up, and being us, we talked about the small signs of progress we've both seen in this city lately.
1.) Metrolink. The public meetings are finally being held for the Northside-Southside routes.
Below is an email from my friend Matt.
"We've been waiting for this for a loooooong time."
Public meetings set for Northside-Southside Study
The first round of public open houses has been scheduled for the
Northside-Southside MetroLink Study. An initial set of of preliminary
MetroLink routes and other transit improvements within the City of St. Louis
will be available. The same information will be available at each open
Northside--Tuesday, June 13, 2006 5 to 7 p.m. Herbert Hoover Boys and
Girls Club 2901 Grand, 63107 Presentations at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.
Downtown--Wednesday, June 14, 2006 3:30 to 6 p.m. Downtown St. Louis
Partnership 906 Olive, 63101 Presentations at 4 and 5:15 p.m.
Southside--Thursday, June 15, 2006 5 to 7 p.m. Monsanto Research Facility
Missouri Botanical Gardens 4500 Shaw Blvd., 63110 Presentations at
5:30 and 6:30 p.m.
2.) In the May 8 issue of Newsweek "America's Best High Schools", Metro in St. Louis was listed at #40.
Not only was that great enough, but no other school was listed in the top 100 in MO, and only a couple in the Midwest were even ranked. Newsweek ranked the schools based on a ratio calculated from AP offerings and the number of students graduating with AP courses. It should be noted that they only ranked public schools, not private, and that the majority of the public schools listed (and 5 of the top 10) had 25% or more of their students receiving government free lunches. So for those that think that great schools can't crop up in poverty-beaten areas, you're wrong. It was interesting as well that many of the great schools were in cities that were very diverse in race and extremely stratified in terms of wealth. Several schools were profiled, and each had a different approach.
I don't think that we can go for a one size fits all approach to education. Different students need different things; different areas require different teachings. We are not monolithic and yet our education often assumes that we are, or that all children will go to college. I would like to see all children capable, academically and financially, of going to college, but that is not necessarily the best solution for everyone.
It's funny though, here we are home to a nationally ranked public school and we never hear anything about it. Nada. Zip. Zilch. The only high schools in the news are private schools and their sports and scandals and Vashon with its fights. Too bad we don't tell the people in St. Louis about what we are doing right.
3.) The Tower Grove Farmers Market. Every Saturday from 8:30 to 3:30 just west of the pool pavilion. Local farms and southside merchants are gathering to peddle their wares. It's small and beatifully communal-- herbs and meats, pastas and coffees, crafts. And all in one of our most beautiful parks-- one again overlooked by most not living on the southside. It's worth the drive though. My favorite thing about it: it sprang up organically from people who live in the neighborhood and is supported by businesses surrounding the neighborhood. Now that's progress.