Inda Schaenen | St. Louis Public Radio

Inda Schaenen

Inda Schaenen

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 4, 2011 - Last week, a St. Louis Public School principal was reported to have orchestrated systematic fraud in her attendance reporting, inflating the numbers to increase the money she'd get from the state in accordance with the federal mandate, No Child Left Behind.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Let’s be very specific about last week’s breaking news in education: The state will be paying nearly $400,000 to a consultant to tell us why Kansas City, one of Missouri’s three unaccredited school districts, is failing. As in the other two unaccredited districts — Riverview Gardens and Normandy — Kansas City students are predominantly African American and live in communities that are economically disadvantaged. All three districts, as well as St. Louis (again) are having a hard time getting a sufficient number of kids to pass the state’s high-stakes tests — MAP and end-of-course exams — that Missouri children take every spring.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: I’m not sure which is making my own skin crawl more, the unveiled racist talk of white parents afraid of what weapon-wielding and drug-transporting black kids will do to property values, or the creepy pity expressed by white parents who say they want to wrap their arms around poor black children who have to get on buses before daylight to get themselves a decent education. Ugh.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Of the 521 school districts in Missouri with recorded accreditation status reported by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 97.4 percent are fully accredited. That’s all but 14. Of those, 11 have received provisional accreditation, and three are currently unaccredited. Those three – in the news for the last couple of weeks on account of the June Missouri Supreme Court ruling regarding student transfers from unaccredited districts – are Normandy and Riverview Gardens in the east, and Kansas City in the west.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: “If you don’t define your terms, someone else will define them for you.” A wise teacher once taught me this. I am going to re-visit a term I used last week and unpack it with greater care: Big Data.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: One goal for all is not likely to be an equitable system. We should push back against the Common Core imposition with teacher professional development, socio-culturally responsive curricula, and project-, performance-, and portfolio-based assessments work at the most local level.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 23, 2011 - With an iPad2, a yellow legal pad, and a bunch of black felt-tip pens, I am trotting around Missouri interviewing people who are in fourth grade. I am doing this to hear what kids think and feel about their experience of school right now. In the book that will result from this research, I will describe the large themes and patterns of what I have heard, as well the experiences and impressions that do not seem to fit into any larger theme. My role model in doing this project is the late great Studs Terkel of Chicago, whom I myself read for the first time in high school back in the 1970s.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 2, 2011I wish everyone could spend a half hour or so with the dry, yellowing pages of Stephen E. Smith's doctoral dissertation, composed in 1934 and titled, "A Description of Public School Conditions in Missouri During the Depression." The late Dr. Smith might as well be talking about us.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 31, 2011 - I wanted to say something about cheating, all this cheating we are reading about in Atlanta, in Philly and, now, in New York City. Not kids cheating. Adults. Educators. Teachers and principals so afraid for their jobs, their funding and their reputations that they will sit down in secret and erase all those little penciled ovals to change student answers from wrong to right.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 31, 2011 - I wanted to say something about cheating, all this cheating we are reading about in Atlanta, in Philly and, now, in New York City. Not kids cheating. Adults. Educators. Teachers and principals so afraid for their jobs, their funding and their reputations that they will sit down in secret and erase all those little penciled ovals to change student answers from wrong to right.