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AFT president praises St. Louis schools' push toward accreditation

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

A collaborative effort among the administration, parents, and teachers of the St. Louis Public Schools toward regaining accreditation earned praise on Tuesday from the president of the a national teachers union.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, made St. Louis a stop on her national back-to-school tour. The St. Louis teachers are represented by an AFT local.

"It took a strike to turn the page in Chicago," Weingarten said. "The teachers in this district, and the administrators, and parents, they’ve been turning the page in working together."

The SLPS have been under state control since 2007 after losing accreditation. But the Missouri State Board of Education will meet next month to determine if the district has improved enough to regain provisional accreditation - the first step toward returning to an elected board.

Weingarten said the district's progress is partly due to a plan crafted by the AFT and the Parent Assembly, a group of parents who work with teachers on issues within schools.

"Mentoring new teachers while providing peer review – it’s a five-point plan – expanding pre-K programs, reducing class sizes, full-service community centers, wraparound programs and bringing all stakeholders together," Weingarten said.

Superintendent Kelvin Adams called the effort a marriage.

"We will sleep on the sofa from time to time, but we will never divorce," Adams said. "Students are too important, and they are the focus for us, always."

Follow Tina Eaton on Twitter: @KristinaEaton

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.