[imc-st.louis] Peter Downs Press Release
westbywest at riseup.net
Tue Jul 3 10:11:34 PDT 2007
---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Press statement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2007
Contact: Peter Downs
The St. Louis Board of Education Puts Children First
Proposes "interim working arrangement" with Transitional School District
[Statement from Board President Peter Downs]
The Board of Education of the City of St. Louis is strongly opposed to the
unlawful and flawed attempt to take control of St. Louis Public Schools away
from the voters and their elected board of education. With broad backing
from citizens of St. Louis, the Board is challenging this scheme in the
courts and is committed to seeing that challenge to a successful conclusion.
The vagueness of the law involved is enormous. The effort to take control
from the elected representatives of the people of St. Louis and abruptly
give it to an appointed board with no plan for improved student achievement
is wrong and misguided. Even if the law is found lawful, the division of
responsibilities of the two entities will detract, not enhance, the gains
this elected Board has achieved and will make the operation of the SLPS
Nevertheless, people in St. Louis are looking for some relief from the
confusion spawned by the State's takeover attempt.
What We Fight For
The elected Board is committed to building schools that not only teach how
to read and compute, but also teach students how to think critically within
various disciplines of knowledge; schools that prepare students to become
active, involved, and just participants in our democracy; help students
imagine and achieve new options for their places in society; and enable them
to lead rich and rewarding personal lives.
This contrasts with the objectives of a prior Board, which led the call for
a state takeover. The prior board, which was tied to Mayor Francis Slay and
a small group that called itself the Black Leadership Roundtable (BLR), had
a constipated vision of education that allowed room for only reading and
math and blocked access to many educational opportunities and future choices
for St. Louis children. In pursuing their narrow objectives, the prior Board
actually drove down the performance of schools in St. Louis.
When it became clear that the people of St. Louis rejected the prior Board's
constricted view of education, the prior Board and their supporters began
calling for a state takeover, a "transition board," to thwart the will of
the voters and prevent the development of democratic and effective public
Make no mistake, although the State's current attempt to change policy
makers is based upon the performance of SLPS under the prior, narrow-minded
Board, the effort to reinstate that same failed group as the new policy
makers signals that the State has two goals: to prevent the development of
strong, democratic public education in St. Louis, and to beat down democracy
in the city.
As the elected Board of Education of the City of St. Louis, we are committed
to fight for the futures of the children of St. Louis and the right to vote.
We are committed to seeing through our lawsuit against State actions that
serve only to sabotage public education in St. Louis.
At the same time, we recognize that individuals on the appointed board may
not agree completely with the State's aims or the narrow vision of a prior
Board. We will try to convince them to support measures designed to advance
public education in St. Louis. We are very concerned that the programs and
initiatives we approved, that are designed to improve student achievement,
will suffer while the legal battle over authority continues.
In an effort to provide stability while the legal uncertainty is fully
litigated, the Board of Education is open to discuss an interim working
arrangement with the TSD under certain principles which would include an
agreement that the previous actions taken by the elected Board go forward.
We urge the TSD not to interfere or prohibit any previous decision by the
elected Board until a final decision is made by the courts. While both the
elected Board and the TSD can and should continue their planning, the
elected Board asks the TSD to commit with it to make no future operating
decisions without the consent of the other board until the court renders a
decision. The superintendent, of course, should do her best to communicate
fully with the members of both boards.
westbywest at riseup.net
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