The news of yesterday's decisions by the Missouri Board of Education to remove the St. Louis Public Schools' accreditation and appoint McBride & Sons executive Rick Sullivan as chairman of the three-person transitional local board raise an important question.
Are we certain that a city as great as St. Louis cannot provide talent equal to the challenge of rebuilding the St. Louis Public Schools?
All too often, we discount the leaders and visionaries who toil away right under our noses, in favor of the more intriguing people who we have to beg. That's part of our inferiority complex, something yesterday's event only strengthens. We tend to downplay our city's stengths, and the strong leadership one finds outside of the halls of the political and social old guard.
Obviously, some people at SLPS have done poor jobs -- that's one cause of the district's failure. But there are many more others in the system who know better than anyone what is wrong and how to fix it. They don't have all of the answers, but they have some of them -- and the institutional memory essential for effective trouble-shooting.
A confident city promotes the efforts of its best and brightest. When we break from the cycle of self-flagellation, reliance on outsiders for direction and ignorance of our own talent -- then we will be a confident city. In the meantime, efforts like the reform of SLPS may suffer.