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We finally got our first real snap of cold winter weather recently. We all collectively groan and wish for spring. The cold reality, however, is that a large number of children in St. Louis do more than groan, they shiver. They shiver because they don’t have a warm winter coat. Even worse, because they don’t have coats, attendance in schools serving a large proportion of low income children see a marked decrease during the winter months. Children are harmed by missing school and falling behind or even further behind. School districts are harmed by losing attendance points on the state review system.
My daughter and her peers at Clayton High only groan at how cold it is outside when they go out to warm up their cars. What a stark contrast! There are great organizations in town that provide coats, hats, gloves, and mittens but there is not enough to meet the need. Let me say this again so I am abundantly clear, many, many children in our community do not have warm winter coats! And some wonder why school districts struggle – if we can’t even keep our children warm, how on earth do we expect to educate them? If basic needs for every child are not addressed we will never get to educational success in our region. Educational equity is about a lot of things, including classroom innovation and effectiveness, but it must also include all the things that allow our children to have full access to benefit from innovation and effectiveness.
Our children should not be cold nor hungry. We can and should meet these basic needs. We rallied and tried to save the Rams. We rallied to build a new Arch grounds. We are rallying to keep the NGA site and its jobs here in St. Louis. I wonder if those school boards, who continue to charge Normandy their full tuition rate for transfers, would be willing to send some money back so that the children of the district can stop shivering? I wonder if those school boards who continue to charge Normandy their full tuition rate even understand the implications of their actions? I wonder if we can rally to make sure every child in the region has their basic needs met? Coats, hats, gloves, mittens. How simple does that sound?
I’ve been working in community development in the St. Louis area for 25 years, and I’ve been the CEO of Beyond Housing since 1993. While I’m proud of our accomplishments, I don’t claim to be an expert. At Beyond Housing, the experts we listen to are the voices of the community members we serve. I’ll be raising issues here that I believe matter to our community. I hope you’ll join the conversation. We do reserve the right not to post comments containing offensive language. To paraphrase Dr. King, we can disagree without being disagreeable.