Following in St. Louis Public Schools’ Footsteps

School closings are on many citizens’ minds as the District waits for the Mayor and DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson to make their final determinations regarding the fate of 20 DC public schools currently slated for closing.

Back in 2007, when Adrian Fenty was mayor and Michelle Rhee was DC’s new Schools Chancellor, the District hired the global consulting firm of Alvarez & Marsal for school system advice. A&M had previously served as interim manager of St. Louis Public Schools, in 2003-04, supervising the closure of 16 schools, the sale of an additional 40 buildings, and the firing of 1400 employees. This was meant to bring financial stability to the system.

By the time A&M arrived in DC in 2007, to recommend similar measures, SLPS had already lost accreditation, enrollment was still declining, and more closures were planned. DC went ahead and followed A&M’s recommendations, however. And DCPS appears to be still following the A&M plan as it approaches another 20 closures. (“Is DCPS on a Dangerous Path?” DCPS_Dangerous_Path)

So, I decided to check in on SLPS to see where they are now, nine years after A&M’s leadership. In the last few years, enrollment further declined. The system just months ago achieve provisional accreditation. This fall (2012) enrollment climbed for the first time in more than a decade only because the state of Missouri closed six St. Louis charter schools, and some students returned to SLPS as a result.

And yet DCPS is continuing to follow a path which has failed to stabilize St. Louis and has failed to stabilize other school systems across the country.
–Virginia Spatz,
reporting for We Act Radio‘s Education Town Hall
Air Date: 12/13/12
Tune in Thursdays, at 11 a.m.

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