On Thursday night, the SAB named Dr. Kelvin Adams of New Orleans the new St Louis Public Schools Superintendent. I have been thinking of this ever since.
Here's what we know:
-He is second in charge of the Recovery School District in New Orleans (12,500 students; STL has 28,000).
-He is a former teacher and principal.
-He worked in STL (SLPS Human Resources) in 2006-07.
-He was slated to be successor of Valles (the NOLA superintendent).
-He was the only candidate of the final 3 to have any STL connection or experience, making one wonder if that was such important criteria why he was the only one in 3-- just sayin'.
-They say he has no experience. That being said, his professional career is almost entirely in education.
-Most people are weary, cynical, and pessimistic. He is #8 in 5 years. The district is unaccredited and run by the state. Not great odds for someone walking in.
-Many in NOLA seem to think he is running to an "easier" job before showing his ineptitude. Though I am not sure STL is easier (see above point).
-He supports charter schools. As does Mayor Slay. And charter schools are a hot topic. They take students out of public schools in big numbers, but the jury is still out on where they fit into the STl "solution". Personally, his affinity for charter schools makes me think this is a big part why he got the job... not so much to clean our schools up, as to possibly funnel kids through a separate system. But, I don't know the other candidates' stances.
-The STL teachers' union supported him (out of the 3, but still, it's a good start).
-He seems to have a following in NOLA. So, to hear a lot of folks say positive things and consider his departure a loss is positive for us.
-He has worked in a wrecked and ravaged school district. Starting from scratch in many ways and trying to stabilize communities. We are not recovering from a disaster, but our schools do not look much better, and our neighborhoods are suffering in many of the same ways (poverty, drugs, violence, extreme lack of community resources and programs for families).
I don't know where I am weighing in on this. Obviously, SLPS is near and dear to my heart. The school where I taught for many years was closed last year, and I have seen how badly we need strong leadership and change. My concern is that no one has stuck around long enough to give us direction, even though some might have had great ideas. Dr. Adams has a three year contract, and I am hoping he fulfills it, giving these kids a chance to see what education should be, and a new chance for their future. We'll see. We'll see.
To read more, check out this New Orleans site for a hometown view of what they are giving (up) to STL.