Work Hard, Be Nice; Our View; Charter Motto Offers Inspiration for Region's Schools; OPINION

Article excerpt

When fifth-grader Demetrius Owens craned his neck to reach the microphone in the chilly gymnasium of the old Francis de Sales gymnasium on Tuesday morning, it brought back memories for Christine Cheak.

Demetrius, proudly wearing his KIPP Inspire Academy "Class of 2020" T-shirt, was welcoming community leaders to hear about the charter school's plans for continued growth in St. Louis. For Mrs. Cheak, principal of St. Elizabeth's Academy, the moment brought together the past and the future.

Long before KIPP took over the building, Mrs. Cheak had attended St. Francis de Sales, a once-vibrant Archdiocesan school in her South Side neighborhood. Her father, too, had attended the school. On this day, young Demetrius explained how KIPP was helping him reach his goals, which some day include coming back to the school to teach math.

He'll do it, he says, by following the KIPP motto: Work hard. Be nice.

Here's an idea:

How about if the entire St. Louis region adopted the same concept in working to improve public schools? There are plenty of people working hard to improve schools in St. Louis.

St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams and his staff are working hard.

Charter school proponents, be they connected to the successful KIPP model, or the parochial ACCESS Academies model, are working hard. Lawmakers, some of them at least, are working hard at making sure state laws allow kids to have access to schools that are better than the ones near their homes that sometimes don't meet state standards.

Teachers, thousands of them, work hard every day, facing any number of challenges to help children of poverty reach their potential.

Sometimes, though, these numerous constituencies aren't very nice to each other.

For St. …


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