The Black Leadership Roundtable (BLR) Education Committee challenged the school board of each of the twenty-five public school districts in St. Louis City and County, to adopt an emergency action resolution reflective of the following sample resolution. All except the Bayless School District have passed a resolution. The resolutions of seventeen districts captured the spirit and essence of each element of the sample resolution.
THIS  DISTRICT DECLARES that the African American achievement gap, which exists in our schools between African American and white students, is a crisis that deserves emergency action.
We THEREFORE RESOLVE to adopt during the 2001-2002 school year, with implementation to begin no later than  September 2002, a strategic action plan to eliminate the gap by June 2005.
WE FURTHER RESOLVE to keep parents and citizens well informed regarding our deliberations, strategies, resolutions, timelines, milestones, progress and student outcomes.

The BLR Education Committee felt that it would be inappropriate to challenge the districts to accomplish such a complex task without taking a stand itself in terms of where it suggests that each district might look for solutions. The BLR Education Committee’s research has resulted in a belief that in order to successfully and, rapidly close the gap, each of the following four issues     must be somehow successfully addressed. Hence, the BIR Education Committee refers to them as the FOUR ESSENTIALS.

Each district has been asked to specifically examine and address each of the four essentials as it develops its strategic action plan and to pro-vide the BIR Education Committee with a short written report on its findings and decisions re-garding them. What has your district concluded?
What are the elements ofthe plan that they have adopted? How have they responded to the BLR Education Committee’s four essentials which are presented below?
Are you working with your district to ensure that it better serve African American students?

Each must be the adult you want your child to become.

Recent research on the impact of three years of good teaching instruction is clear and definitive. The quality of the faculty, appropriately supported, is the principal determinate of the quality of student outcomes. Child development is a human endeavor. The best of every- thing else, without exemplary teacher, is useless.
Teacher certification is not the key. Most private schools don’t even. require it They do require exceptionally well-educated and empowered adults who, love Children, and can motivate, educate, and inspire them; while modeling and demanding the character, virtue and values we want our children to acquire.
We must only accept as teachers the empowered adults we want our children to become. Teachers must be evaluated on whether they in fact imparted knowl-edge, iust as students are evaluated as to what they have learned.  Whatever the reason, if a teacher cannot be effective with a stable group of students following appropriate training, coaching, and supervision then s/he must not be retained.

Keeping the same teacher with the same children for many years.

Mega-looping can be accomplished in numerous ways. The constant is teacher/student groupings of more than two years. For example, one could allow the same educator, to serve the same children, for grades one through four. Then bring this teacher and her
students together, with another teacher and her students, for grades four through eight Then bring two of these groups together for grades nine through twelve, assigning them a team of four educators: a principal educator for language arts, math, science and history/social studies. This is
a vastly more powerful and effective structure for the education of today's children, particularly today's needy childrenthan the impersonal structure that we currently have. It allows a specific teacher, to work in concert with the parent for the benefit of a specific child ... for many years!

Powerful things will happen in every~school when the educators are able to experience the power of mega-looping (being responsible for the same children for many years). Children need a meaningful, long-term relationship with a few empowered adults ... not simply a 45-minute daily exposure to many different adults each semester. When educators know and understand their students, both academically and psychologically, to a far superior degree-then educators will be able to engender vastly more positive outcomes. Under the present structure no educator has the same child long enough to truly learn the child, if necessary heal the child, and teach and guide the child to the realization,of their full potential. This is what today’s children truly need to excel academically. It also allows the type of partnership with educators that today's parents need.

Have someone else supervise the non-educational operations of schools.

Allow the principals of schools to concentrate on staff development and student outcomes. Currently, vast amounts of their time are spent on everything but this. Why not have someone else ensure the school is clean, meals are timely and nutritious, the leaky roof is fixed, and to oversee support and security staff. Principals could then concentrate on hiring, developing, supervising, coaching, and monitoring an exemplary teaching staff, and ensuring that each student is appropriately growing in character, virtue, values, life skills and academic achievement.

Allow students years behind grade level to catch up by utilizing today's technology.

Given today's computer technology and the modern computer based, student paced, integrated core curriculum software programs, no child need languish years behind grade level. These programs have proven their ability to allow children to make up several grade levels in a single year. Today's technology is that powerful. It allows the teacher to monitor learning of the core curriculum at a much more detailed level which was  heretofore impossible. It eliminates the, failure and frustration of students not mastering essential building blocks of knowledge/skill before moving on to more complex ones. It allows children to work at their own pace, requires teacher intervention at the appropriate time, and does not facilitate the reinforcing of inaccurate knowledge. It also provides timely, positive feedback while fostering feelings of competency and imparting essential computer literacy skills.

© Saint Louis Black Pages  2003