No Pain, No Gain
It’s not a happy time for the St. Louis Public Schools. Enrollment is way down. Parents are enrolling their children in charter schools, paying private school tuition, homeschooling, leaving for the suburbs — anything to avoid the unaccredited district. SLPS is faced with the need to close and consolidate sparsely attended schools that used to be full of students.
To observers of the district’s history, closing empty buildings may appear to be an admission of defeat. I view it as an acknowledgment of reality, an outlook that SLPS has long lacked. It could even be a prelude to better things.
After all, businesses do this all the time in response to changing conditions. They scale back operations. They hire consultants. They close departments and discontinue products that customers didn’t want. When they make the cuts, it’s not a pretty sight. But that kind of discipline is what allows a business to thrive later on. If you stop offering products that your customers don’t want, you’ll be in a better position to notice what they do want and to meet that demand. You won’t pour all your resources into producing something people don’t need. You won’t be tied down by what failed in the past. You’ll be in a better position to seize new opportunities.
At last, SLPS is acting like a business. I’m sure everyone working there would prefer to emulate a thriving business in an expansion. And they may soon be able to. The prudent choices SLPS makes now could lay the groundwork for future success.