Thoughts on St. Louis School's Soft Opening


Reading this morning's Post-Dispatch article on the St. Louis Public School District, I was left with two thoughts concerning yesterday's first day of classes.

The first impression was that once again attendance on opening day was pathetic. As the daily notes, 20 percent of the 25,000 students enrolled in the district did not attend school yesterday. That's 5,000 kids whose parents were either oblivious to the start of school or just didn't care.

But then, my second thought was that 80 percent is pretty damn good. Why? Because yesterday and today's classes are really just a dress rehearsal.

Think about it: When the first two days of school are on a Thursday and Friday, do you really believe there's going to be a lot of learning in the classrooms this week?  

No. These first days of class are like when a restaurant has one of those "soft openings." Sure, you may want to attend just to check out the place and see what all the buzz is about. But you sure as shootin' don't go there expecting a good meal or decent service. The soft opening is the restaurant's time to iron out its problems.

The same can be said of school. More and more districts these days are choosing to have their first day of class late in the week. They do this so they can make sure the buses all find their way school, the cafeteria is able to feed the masses and the teachers know where and when they need to be before the real classes begin on Monday.

Yes, in other words, a dress rehearsal.

Oh, and speaking of dress. The best nugget of today's P-D article appears at the very end. It's about Innovative Concepts Academy -- a school for problem children -- that requires students to dress in slacks, Oxford shirts and ties. Yesterday visitors to the school "exploded into applause" when informed that students also have to wear belts to keep their pants from sagging.

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