Sunday, April 24, 2005

No Sense of Humor...

Since I'm not a daily blogger, I rarely receive comments about my postings. It doesn't help that I haven't figured out how to make comment postings public; I just don't put that much time into my blog, since I do have other responsibilities, after all.

But somebody decided to comment on my posting about Pam Randall, the outgoing interim St. Louis Public Schools superintendent. This anonymous poster asked:

"What is the reason that you put former cheerleader and dancer first...and then just happened to remember that she was a principal. True, she was a cheerleader in highschool (so that is really irrelevent) and she did teach dance, but she is an educator first and foremost, so that is really all that matters."

Well, as many people out there may know, my wife and I both graduated from Metro in 1997 and I'm generally pretty proud of that fact. Whether my classmates were so impressed is another question. ;-)

In any event, many people were unimpressed with Pam's performance as Metro principal. She replaced the original principal, Betty Wheeler, who retired after 25 years. Pam started there in fall 1997, right after I graduated, so I don't have direct experience.

Nevertheless, I think she sought the Metro position, which she occupied before she even had Missouri principal certification, so she could have a record as principal of the best high school in the system, and get on the road to high-paying administrative positions.

Further, while the fact she was a cheerleader may be irrelevant to her performance as an administrator, it sets a tone when someone of that ilk (i.e., "popular girl") is principal of a high school populated largely by students who would in most schools be the "nerds" and get beaten up a lot. Metro was as much a haven for outcasts from throughout the City and County, as it was a cream-skimming operation.

And her support of Metro's adoption of the International Baccalaureate curriculum was not something I thought to be a good decision. If the IB diploma is so highly prized, why do so few highly-ranked schools participate? Lindbergh High is the only other school in the St. Louis region in the program; Clayton and Ladue, for example, are not. It just seems silly, more about status and appearances than anything else.

It would have made more sense to invest in more Advanced Placement courses, which can really save students time and money when they get to college. Coming out of Metro, I had 25 credit hours to "transfer" when I started at the UMSL Pierre Laclede Honors College. This helped me complete two bachelor's degrees, two minors, and a semester abroad in 3 1/2 years. Not that I'm bragging or anything. :-)

Anyway, I think Pam's administrative style is kinda superficial and not that much about substantive improvements to academic outcomes. And that's not the kind of style that helps a place like 801 N. 11th Street get moving. But I do wish her well in Chicago.

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