Dale Singer

Education Reporter

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren.

Ways to Connect

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

After successful organizing campaigns with part-time faculty at Washington University, Saint Louis University and St. Louis Community College, a union is now turning its attention to the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

And a top UMSL official wants to make sure that teachers on campus know what is at stake.

Eight-year-old Jahede Parker has brand new red sneakers and a gray camo coat to start his new school year at Patrick Henry Downtown Academy in St. Louis.

His twin brother Jacob picked out an almost identical coat Sunday, when the two joined more than a thousand other local elementary kids shopping at the free back-to-school fair sponsored by the St. Louis chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women.

University of Missouri-Columbia

If a candidate for the presidency of the University of Missouri asks interviewers about their priorities for the system and the themes that are part of the school’s vision, what should the answers be?

That was the topic of a meeting of the university’s Board of Curators in Kansas City on Friday. For anyone who has been following the up-and-down fortunes of the university in recent months, the list they came up with will look familiar:

Updated July 20 with judge's ruling: A federal judge on Wednesday rejected the efforts of two charter school parents to join a suit over whether charters should receive proceeds from a 1999 desegregation tax.

LeDiva Pierce and Ken Ross Jr. had wanted to join on the side of the charters the lawsuit that was filed by St. Louis Public Schools and the NAACP. The suit sought to recover from charters millions of dollars raised by the tax that they said were wrongly diverted from the city public school system. The parents said if the charters have to repay the money, the schools could go bankrupt and their children could be harmed.

Missouri Department of Higher Education

When it comes to education, Missouri has no shortage of goals.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education wants the state to be in, as its slogan says, in the Top 10 by 20 – among the leaders in a variety of school measures by the year 2020.

Not to be outdone, the state’s Department of Higher Education has its sights set a little further out, on 2025. Nine years from now, it wants Missouri to have 60 percent of its working-age adults with postsecondary credentials, to be in the top 10 for investment in academic research and to rank among the 10 most affordable states in which to obtain a postsecondary degree or certificate.

Edmund Lee
provided by family

Updated July 19 with response to judge's ruling— A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against St. Louis’ voluntary desegregation program.

La’Shieka White sued the program because her son, who is black, is barred from attending a city charter school now that her family has moved to Maryland Heights. Her suit called the program’s race-based restrictions unconstitutional.

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

Would you pay a few thousand bucks to sit on the bench during a Saint Louis University basketball game as an honorary coach? Or be willing to round all your university purchases up to the next dollar and turn the difference into a donation instead of pocket change?

Those are just a couple of the hundreds of ideas submitted to a program called GrowingSLU, an effort to bolster the university through programs, academic or not, that contribute to both its mission and its bottom line.

Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Joseph Hill wanted to join his twin brother in the accounting program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis this fall, but he didn’t quite have his act together.

That’s why he was glad to hear about the campus’ Quick Admit Day on Wednesday. He was able to get admitted, talk to an adviser, look at possible courses and even take part in orientation if he chose, all in one day.

Updated at 9:40 p.m. Tuesday with comments after the meeting - Nine years after a three-member appointed board took over a dysfunctional, poorly performing St. Louis Public Schools system, talks have begun on how an elected board can regain authority over a calmer, much-improved district.

Three members of the current elected board, along with two members of the state school board and the president of the appointed Special Administrative Board, gathered at the district’s downtown headquarters Tuesday evening.

Rick Sullivan (left), president of the city schools' Special Administrative Board, and Superintendent Kelvin Adams attend the campaign kickoff for Proposition 1
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis School Superintendent Kelvin Adams has signed a contract to stay on the job for another three years.

The new contract calls for his base salary to remain at $225,000 a year – the same salary he has had since he became head of the school district in 2008. But his automobile allowance rises to $800 a month from the $300 a month payment included in the old contract that expired last week. The $800 figure had been part of earlier contracts that Adams signed with the district.

teaching
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

After 25 years as a gym teacher, Annalee Zweig knows a lot of different exercises. But she had never encountered the hoops she had to jump through to get jobs as a substitute teacher.

Zweig subs in Parkway, where she taught at four elementary schools before retiring five years ago. This past year, Parkway — along with Normandy and Maplewood Richmond Heights — contracted with a division of Kelly Services, the temporary help company, to recruit, place and employ substitute teachers.

Melissa Click
KBIA - Provided by Melissa Click

The American Association of University Professors voted Saturday to censure the University of Missouri-Columbia over its treatment of Melissa Click, who was fired after her actions during racial protests last fall.

Interim President Mike Middleton addresses the University of Missouri Board of Curators
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The interim president of the University of Missouri system said that even as memories of last fall’s racial protests in Columbia persist, the school continues to perform valuable services for the state.

But the only African-American member of the university’s Board of Curators wants to make sure that the system’s new emphasis on diversity results in action, not just talk.

University of Missouri-Columbia

As the search for a president of the University of Missouri system accelerates, more people are interested in the job than expected.

That was the word Thursday from John Isaacson, a consultant hired by the search committee that is leading the hunt for a successor to Tim Wolfe, the system president who resigned in November, following  racial protests in Columbia.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon (center) talks with state board member John Martin (left) and deputy education commissioner Ron Lankford at the state school board meeting in October 2015.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the Missouri state school board praised progress made by Riverview Gardens in recent years Tuesday but postponed any vote that could upgrade its status from unaccredited.

Because the board put off until at least this fall any consideration of making the district provisionally accredited, students living in Riverview Gardens will remain eligible to transfer to nearby accredited schools in the coming school year.

school buses
Flickr

The end isn’t near for the area’s long-running school desegregation program, but it’s coming.

Area school superintendents in charge of the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corp. , which has run the program since a 1999 settlement established new rules the St. Louis-St. Louis County student transfers, are weighing one final five-year extension to the plan, taking it through the 2023-24 school year. They met Thursday to discuss the plan, with a final vote expected later this year.

As the University of Missouri continues to search for a new system president, in the wake of racial protests, it will have a full nine-member Board of Curators to make the selection — and one of them will be the only African-American member.

Gov. Jay Nixon said Wednesday he was naming three new members to the board, plus a student representative from the Columbia campus. The interim appointees  can take office immediately, without confirmation by the Missouri Senate and serve until Nixon’s successor takes office next year.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon discusses the district's progress at a state hearing May 5, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Riverview Gardens has made solid gains over the past two years, but Missouri education officials will not recommend that the state board upgrade the district from unaccredited to provisionally accredited for the coming school year.

A better level of accreditation would mean that students who live in the district could no longer transfer to schools in other districts, as they have since the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the state’s transfer law in 2013.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

Updated at 2:16 p.m. Wednesday with withdrawal of suit: The mother of a student at Normandy High School who filed suit in federal court challenging the suspension of her daughter after a fight at the school last month, which involved adults as well as students, has withdrawn her suit.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Jennifer Williams and her daughter, a freshman  identified only by the initials J.M., says she “was summarily barred from attendance at the school without notice of a hearing and for no substantive fault of her own” after the fight on May 23. But her lawyer, Robert Herman, said Wednesday that because alternative arrangements for her daughter's education have been made, the lawsuit has been withdrawn.

St. Louis Public Schools

In 2007, the St. Louis Public Schools were placed under the control of a three-member appointed board. Its assignment was to fix problems in finance, governance and academic achievement.

The district has made progress in all three areas. A deficit became a surplus, infighting among board members has turned into civility, if not always unanimity, and student test scores have made steady gains. On its most recent state report card, the district, which was once unaccredited, scored solidly in the range for full accreditation.

St. Louis Public Schools

Updated at 12:50 p.m. June 1 with response from St. Louis Public Schools: Two parents who say their children have thrived in charter schools after struggling in St. Louis Public Schools want to have their voices heard in a lawsuit that could force charters in the city to lose tens of millions of dollars.

The parents filed a motion in federal court Tuesday asking to intervene in the lawsuit filed in April by the city public schools against the way proceeds from a 1999 city sales tax for education has been distributed by the state.

The columns at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

A former Missouri state representative is suing the University of Missouri and Joshua Hawley, a Republican candidate for attorney general, over delays by the university in responding to a wide-ranging request for emails and other documents.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway and audit manager Chris Vetter discuss findings from Fox school district May 25, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11:00 a.m. May 26 with fuller response from Critchlow: Under former Superintendent Dianne Critchlow, the Fox school district in Jefferson County misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars on salaries and credit card purchases, and the district’s school board did nothing to stop the practice, a state audit found.

Auditor Nicole Galloway, who released the audit at a news conference in St. Louis on Wednesday, said her office rated the district as poor, the lowest possible. Because of that determination, she said, the auditor’s office will follow up on recommendations in the audit in the coming months.

For six performances next month in Grand Center, military veterans – and one military spouse – will present the Telling Project, a stage play designed to help the public understand what it’s like to be in the armed forces, then return to civilian life.

It uses the actual words from area veterans recruited through the University of Missouri-St. Louis. But no one should attend the production thinking it will be a straight, factual rendition of life in uniform.

This isn’t the Truth Project. This is the Telling Project.

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

Part-time instructors at Saint Louis University have joined their colleagues at three other local campuses and voted to join the Service Employees International Union.

In results of mail-in balloting announced Monday, the unionization proposal won by a vote of 76 percent, 89-28.

The columns at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

The University of Missouri “violated fundamental principles of academic due process” and endangered academic freedom when it fired Mizzou Communications Professor Melissa Click following her actions during protests in Columbia last fall, a new report on the situation said.

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Tuition at the University of Missouri’s four campuses will remain flat this fall for in-state undergraduate students.

St. Louis Public Schools

After a lively discussion, the Missouri state school board agreed Tuesday to convene a meeting that could lead to the St. Louis Public Schools returning to the control of an elected school board.

Since 2007, the city schools have been under the authority of a three-member appointed Special Administrative Board. Since the schools scored solidly in the full accreditation range on their most recent state report card, talk has increased about when the switch back to the elected board could occur.

A person filling in a standardized test bubble sheet with a pencil.
Flickr | Alberto G.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. May 17 with comment from state board members

A task force looking into better ways to accredit Missouri school districts says the state should judge its schools like it judges its teachers — with a number of different measurements that don’t rely so heavily on student test scores.

In a report presented to the Missouri state board of education at its meeting in Jefferson City on Tuesday, the task force concluded that Missouri should retain accreditation of districts but change the criteria it uses to determine whether schools are accredited, provisionally accredited or unaccredited. The task force is made up of superintendents and others.

University of Missouri-Columbia

At a time when employees at two of its campuses face layoffs because of a financial crunch, curators of the University of Missouri spent $10,700 this week to meet at a Franklin County conference center rather than on university property.

The board held what it called a “development session” Wednesday at the Cedar Creek conference center in New Haven. No votes were taken at the meeting, whose agenda said it was held to discuss “board best practices.”

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