Extend St. Louis' enthusiasm for sports to help improve the schools.
The city of St. Louis loves its sports. The Cardinal Nation is one of the strongest fan bases in the nation. Every day, people follow the St. Louis teams in newspapers, online and around the water cooler. They see how the teams are doing, what the latest statistics are and who the teams are bringing in to help improve things. As a result, there is public pressure (and hope) for the teams to do as well as possible, and the motivation for the players to achieve even loftier goals. Why? Because we're all watching. Because we want them to succeed. Meanwhile, St. Louis public schools are languishing. Last year, they had a graduation rate just over 50% (Source: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/graduation-rates-for-area-districts-in-missouri/article_89d3721b-4f52-5810-a9ed-f90f7cbe7d42.html). While we're happy when Matt Holliday goes 2/4 in a game, for a school, such an average is disgraceful. My solution is two-fold. First, we make a modern website for tracking the stats on St. Louis public schools. This would include the usual statistics like graduation rates and test scores, but also broader analyses of the quality of the school, including sports results and extracurricular activity participation. Putting these statistics in a centralized repository would not only raise consciousness of how the schools are doing, but give the students a message: St. Louisians care how good of an education you are getting and it is important to everyone to see you doing the best you can. The second part of the plan is to not put the school statistics in a vaccuum. Give each of the public schools a public advocate. Many people in the city don't know the names of the public schools, much less how good they each are. However, if public figures, such as our local sports stars, were to plant their stake on particular schools, then people would follow the schools and their statistics like they follow teams on the sports page. Initiatives to improve the schools would be promoted by St. Louis celebrities. This idea was floated a couple years ago in New York (http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2001/05/20/jeter-put-your-money-where-your-fans-are.html) but the Yankees fans didn't latch onto the idea like St. Louis fans can. Imagine the possibilities... "David Freese capped off a stellar week by going 3/4 and hosting a physical fitness clinic at Gateway Middle school." "I studied really hard this week for finals because I didn't want to let Sam Bradford down." "I hear Jon Hamm is coming to our talent show this year." "Did you see that Nelly's high school overtook Joe Edwards' school for most improved graduation rate?" "The St. Louis Blues are matching each donation to refurb Vashon's classrooms." "I just added Chris Carpenter to both my fantasy baseball team and my fantasy education team." With the full strength of the St. Louis fan base rallying behind them, St. Louis schools will have no choice but to improve.