Please VOTE DAVID on April 2

David Kirschner for Lindbergh School Board

As a university professor at SLU and research scientist in industry, I observed an increasing number of students ill-prepared for university study and professional work. Lindbergh Schools, with its excellent history, can be a leader in reversing the decline and making a brighter future for our children.

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Please VOTE DAVID on April 2

About David

Beginning in 1996, David served as a geology professor at Saint Louis University for 16 years before transitioning to a research role with Shell International Exploration and Production in 2012, where he worked for nine years. Along the way, he achieved significant milestones, including publishing research articles, presenting at professional meetings, securing federal grants, and contributing to AI/machine-learning projects with two U.S. patents in 2023.

It was natural for me to work hard in school given my parents’ focus on education.  I did well in math and science and decided in my junior and senior years of high school to do a research project that ultimately resulted in me presenting (and winning some accolades) at Missouri, National, and International high-school science competitions.  I went on to earn my bachelor, masters, and doctoral geology degrees in Minnesota followed by four-years of postdoctoral studies in Switzerland.  I moved back to Missouri in 1996 when I accepted an academic position as geology professor at Saint Louis University.  Sixteen years later, in 2012, I chose to leave the University and accepted a research staff position with Shell International Exploration and Production company in Houston, Texas.  I worked at Shell for nine years before voluntarily retiring in 2021 after having moved back to St. Louis in 2019 and working remotely for two years.  


Professionally, I have published 25+ research articles and (co)presented 80+ talks at professional meetings, was awarded numerous federal grants for research and teaching, and served several years on a National Science Foundation panel that reviewed projects focused on teaching science to undergraduate students.  For most of my academic career I taught undergraduate and graduate courses, mentored many students, and took the lead in developing the Environmental Science and Studies program at Saint Louis University.  In my research, I investigated processes associated with the deformation of the Earth that resulted in the formation of mountain ranges and generation of earthquakes.  In industry, I provided scientific advice to business units in Shell who were making multi-billion dollar decisions in the Gulf of Mexico, conceived and executed a large field project in Albania (see presentation here), and worked on four large AI / machine-learning projects, two of which resulted in 2023 U.S. patents on AI/machine learning (patents are here and here).  I am grateful to have had a wonderful career as teacher, mentor, and researcher.

In contrast, my father grew up in a very poor rural home where his mother died when he was four and his father tried to raise his four children during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  As late as the 1960s my siblings and I still had to use the wood outhouse and outside water pump when we visited our grandfather.  My father barely graduated from high school, was drafted into the army during the Korean war, and used the GI bill to attend college after his service.  He was the first in his family to go to college where he eventually earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees.  Both my mother and father worked in the St. Joseph public school system as teachers and principal until their retirements, a combined total of 50 years.  Their focus on education resulted in my siblings and I becoming a lawyer, a university professor equivalent of chemistry in Germany, a medical professor in Chicago, and me, a professor of geology.  My family exemplifies the life-changing impact high-quality public education in Missouri can have on families.  I believe the same can be true for residents of the Lindbergh school district.

During my sixteen years as a professor at Saint Louis University, it became clear to me that not all high-school graduates should become college students.  College is not the only path to rewarding, challenging, and useful careers.  We have elevated in society’s pecking order college-educated “white collar” workers above non-college-educated “common” laborers.  This is wrong in my opinion for there is dignity in all work and the worker who does his or her job with excellence should always be honored.  I highly value people who pursue higher education and the benefits they subsequently provide to society; otherwise, I would not have pursued a Ph.D. and four years of post-doctoral studies before becoming a professor.  However, I also highly value workers in all fields who work hard, are conscientious, give their best even when others are not looking, and benefit society.

Students enrolled in Lindbergh High School can simultaneously enroll in South Technical High School (operated by St. Louis County Special School District).  I think this is a very beneficial resource to our District and one that we are considering for our own son.  If elected to the Board, I will try to reinforce  the existing relationship between Lindbergh and South Tech, and try to increase our support of their programs and enrollment of Lindbergh high-school students. 

I learned while teaching undergraduate and graduate students for sixteen years at Saint Louis University that an unspoken alliance is frequently made between faculty and students.  Most university faculty are evaluated annually on three criteria – their scholarship/research productivity, number of courses they taught, and their service on University committees.  In our department at SLU, research productivity accounted for the majority of a faculty’s evaluation, followed by teaching and then service.  Salary increases and promotions were based in part on a faculty’s annual evaluations, thus most faculty focused their time and effort on research, and limited their investment in teaching and service. 

If a faculty member chose to do so, he/she could readily boost their teaching evaluation(s) by making their classes entertaining and easy, which almost always resulted in favorable students’ evaluations and reduction in students’ complaints.  The unholy alliance (which results in grade inflation) is that a professor offers an entertaining easy course; the students are given good grades for little effort; resulting in the faculty’s teaching/course being highly rated by students.  This is one reason why grade inflation is rampant in higher education.  Obviously, this is detrimental to the education of students, and effectively deceives future employers and the public who believe high grades correlate with mastery of material.  I suspect the same unholy alliance might also occur at K-12 levels with the wrinkle that teachers probably want to minimize complaints of parents.

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