Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ferguson Commission and St. Louis Public Schools Share Common Reform Goals

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ferguson Commission and St. Louis Public Schools Share Common Reform Goals

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * In the months after Michael Brown was fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer there were immediate calls for change many of them centered around how police and government interact with the public.

Legislative bills called for municipal court reform. Police departments promised to put body cameras on officers. Ferguson and other municipalities in St. Louis County vowed to limit revenue from ticketing.

But those who helped write the broad-ranging Ferguson Commission report say a quieter but no less significant reform movement is building: it involves education.

The effort was manifest at a forum Tuesday at Roosevelt High School in St. Louis, where Principal Crystal Gale and other staff members have worked to expand access to college and improve education outcomes for more than 500 low-income and minority students.

St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams joined Rich McClure, co-chaiman of the Ferguson Commission, at a table inside the library annex to discuss how their work has intersected.

"Early childhood education. College counseling. College prep curriculum. School-based health centers and access to mental health," Adams said, listing district action that coincides with the Ferguson Commission report's calls for action.

Even before the commission report was released, Adams and district leaders had identified steps they needed to take at the city's worst performing schools where students are predominately low-income and black and lack many of the same opportunities as wealthier, white peers in other districts.

Those steps are in the district's Transformation Plan which calls for increasing the number of nurses, counselors and social workers in low-performing buildings, giving teachers more planning time and working to cultivate strong principals. Increasingly, teachers in the district are being trained to better understand and address student trauma, which Adams hopes will lead to a more just and appropriate discipline.

Now, Adams sees these steps as part of a broader social justice agenda that coincides with the Ferguson Commission report.

"If I told you that these things are proven things that work, you'd all nod your heads, yeah, we believe in all of those things," Adams said, at the forum. …

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