Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Ryan Delaney

Education Reporter

Ryan is a reporter on the education desk at St. Louis Public Radio, covering both higher education and the many school districts in the St. Louis region. He has previously reported for public radio stations WFYI in Indianapolis and WRVO in upstate New York. He began his journalism career working part time for WAER while attending Syracuse University. He's won multiple reporting awards for his work, which has aired on NPR, The Takeaway and WGBH's Innovation Hub. Having grown up in Burlington, Vt., he often spends time being in the woods hiking, camping, and skiing.

Andy Sminds / Flickr

Missouri education officials decided Tuesday to no longer aim for its public schools to be ranked among the nation’s 10 best by 2020.

The Missouri State Board of Education’s course correction comes amid changing federal education policies.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Many high-achieving and low-income high school students bound for college get an assist from the state of Missouri in the form of modest scholarships.

The trouble is that budget constraints have left programs that help both groups of students underfunded and unable to keep up with rising tuition. That’s bad news for high school seniors who’ll be choosing where to go to school in the coming weeks.

St. Louis Public Schools elected board president Susan Jones speaks during a meeting on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of St. Louis’ elected school board waited until after this month’s election to start clamoring to resume talks over regaining control of the city’s public schools. They’ll have to wait a bit longer, though, the state says.

Elected board President Susan Jones said the election of two new members is a proof enough that its reputation of dysfunction and mismanagement, which led to losing control a decade ago, is a thing of the past.

Chelsea Clinton speaks to students and parents at Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School in Creve Coeur Friday, April 7, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Long before Chelsea Clinton lived in the White House, she wrote then-President Ronald Reagan a letter, imploring him to not visit a Nazi cemetery on an upcoming visit to Germany.

The daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday shared the letter, which was adorned with a rainbow sticker, with students at Mirowitz Jewish Community School in Creve Coeur.

East St. Louis students spend about a month without school last fall due to a teacher strike. In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo students spend their free day outside the school district office.
File photo | Wiley Price | St. Louis American

The East St. Louis School District is one of 10 Illinois schools that will help design a learning plan based not on how much time students spend listening to their teacher, but rather how many skills they’ve mastered.

It’s a new approach to education called competency-based learning, meant to transition away from credit hours that traditionally have tracked a student’s progress.

Mizzou's Columns
File Photo| Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Officials in University of Missouri System are considering layoffs as it makes adjustments in the face of a major loss in state funding and shrinking enrollment, system President Mun Choi said Monday.

In Choi’s open letter, which starts the process of making deep budget cuts to the state’s largest provider of higher education, he said the four campuses will need to trim 8 percent to 12 percent out of their budgets. The cuts will target specific programs and not be across-the-board, he said.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

School districts across the St. Louis area are asking voters Tuesday to consider various funding measures.

Two Metro East counties are hoping to join more than 40 others in Illinois that have started using sales tax increases to bolster school funding in the face of less state support due to a nearly two-year budget crisis.

And in St. Louis County, there are a half-dozen funding measures. Kirkwood would raise property taxes, while the rest are bonding measures, all of which need to pass with about 57 percent of the vote. The largest bonding measure, in the Rockwood district, seeks to spend $95.5 million on a new elementary school in Eureka and expand other buildings.

Soccer supporter Stuart Hultgren at an event on Feb. 28, 2017  with the coach of U.S. men’s national team at the Amsterdam Tavern, a popular soccer bar in south St. Louis.
Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, in 1907, formed the first professional soccer league in the U.S., had several hometown players on the 1950 U.S. World Cup team, and over the years has fostered dominant college teams. The Major League Soccer commissioner said the city has always been in the league’s sights.

There are very few current MLS clubs with a history already built in, former MLS player (and St. Louis native) Taylor Twellman said, before a pro-stadium rally this week. “The only thing this city needs is a professional team, playing at the highest level, with a soccer-specific stadium.”

Investment group SC STL is trying to land a MLS team, partially with help of of St. Louis taxpayers. And that’s where some city residents lose interest.

Fans watch Taylor Twellman, a St. Louis native and former U.S. men’s national team player-turned-ESPN commentator, speak Monday, at a rally supporting a soccer stadium. March 27, 2017
File | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 8:40 p.m. March 27 with details from rally — St. Louis always has been a location in Major League Soccer’s sights for growth, the league’s commissioner said Monday, but taxpayers will have to bear some of the cost to make that a reality.

The St. Louis Public Schools elected board discusses business during its June meeting as state board of education member Vic Lenz looks on.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Public Schools’ elected board hasn’t had direct control of the district for a decade. Regaining that control from the state may hinge on the April 4 election, when voters will choose from among seven candidates for three open seats.

Board member Bill Monroe is seeking a second term. But the president of the SLPS board and some state-level education officials see his continued presence as a possible disruption in getting back local control.

Michael Smith, an adjunct English professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis speaks at a small union rally on Thursday, March 23, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Some teachers at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who are trying to form a union sued the state’s university system Thursday, alleging that the rules the board of curators set forth for organizing are too restrictive.

They contend there are gender and minority wage gaps, and that the best way to close them is to unionize. The effort started last summer on the heels of successful union votes at other colleges in the region.

Jim Kavanaugh of SC STL, the investment and ownership group trying to bring an MLS team to St. Louis, is shown after a news conference Tuesday, March 21, 2017, announcing the group's planned investments in community development. (March 21, 2017)
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

An ownership group that’s trying to persuade St. Louis voters to help fund a professional soccer stadium said Tuesday that it will invest millions of dollars in youth soccer and job-training programs.

The ownership team, SC STL, along with St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and nonprofit organizations at a news conference detailed the potential benefits of attracting an Major League Soccer team. Slay called the Community Benefit Agreement negotiated between SC STL and the city a “first-of-its-kind deal” that promises millions of dollars for more than a dozen organizations and initiatives — and shows their request to voters isn’t just about sports.

Malindi Henning answers questions during a science class at Miriam School in Webster Groves. (March 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Miriam School is a small, private school in Webster Groves that serves children who've struggled to learn in typical classrooms. Thirteen percent of its students are adopted.

At first glance, that may seem surprising, as nationally, fewer than 2 percent of school-aged children are adopted. But studies suggest that adopted and foster children suffer from learning disabilities at twice the rate as children raised by both birth parents. For adoptive parents, that may mean a greater challenge in finding the right school or learning environment for their child.

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

A long, slow decline in both state funding and enrollment has public colleges in Illinois cutting staff and increasing tuition. In the face of a financial shortfall, it would seem campuses would seek out every dollar available.

But Western Illinois University and Southern Illinois University are trying a different tactic. They’re eliminating higher out-of-state tuition rates so any undergrad from any state will pay what used to be the lower in-state tuition.

University of Missouri President Mun Choi, shown here in November 2016, detailed cuts across the UM System campuses.
File photo | Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri System’s incentive program for its top executives is being terminated just a few days after a state audit found the program lacked transparency.

New UM System President Mun Choi acknowledged the current program’s lack of transparency was a part of his decision to end it, but he also said paying “the market rate” for administrators is key to the university’s overall success.

Alderman Jeffrey Boyd votes at Laclede School Tuesday afternoon. (March 7, 2017)
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7 p.m. with polls closing — Election officials said turnout was light for Tuesday's mayoral and aldermanic primary elections.

Seven Democratic mayoral candidates and three GOP contenders are vying to move on to the April 4 general election. Blame the city’s longest-serving mayor for such a crowded field; Francis Slay chose against running for a fifth term.

Quadrangle at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
(Flickr Creative Commons User Adam Procter)

Updated at 6:10 p.m. with Greitens' statement — Missouri’s auditor criticized the University of Missouri System on Monday for giving excessive bonuses and other incentives to several current and former top administrators at a time when the system grapples with funding cuts and mulls raising tuition.

Trish | Flickr

Saint Louis University announced Friday it will cut 120 employees — or 4 percent of its workforce — because of a funding crisis.

University President Fred Pestello detailed the layoffs, which were expected for several weeks, in separate emails to staff and students.

Julie Dubray, co-author of the children's book Goodnight St. Louis, reads to students at Koch Elementary Schools on March 2, 2017.
Ryan Delaney / St. Louis Public Radio

Second-graders at a predominantly low-income north St. Louis County school district went home with new books Thursday as part of a national reading day.

Two St. Louis children’s authors spent part of the afternoon at Koch Elementary School in the Riverview Gardens district, which is struggling with reading proficiency. Just 17 percent of third-graders at Koch Elementary School were considered to be at state standards for reading in 2015, though the district has improved enough regain provisional accreditation.

(via Flickr/Tracy O)

Some trustees for the St. Louis Public School Retirement System have been traveling extensively on the system’s dime and answered questions at Monday's board meeting about the benefits of such trips.

The seeming infighting among members of the board, which controls the pension fund for about 10,000 current and retired employees, stems from two trustees racking up the bulk of the nearly $117,000 in travel expenses from 2012 to 2016.

River Roads Lutheran School

Updated 5 p.m. Feb. 28 with decision on school's future – The 78 students of River Roads Lutheran School on St. Louis’ north side will not need to find a new school to attend mid-year.

The school community raised $136,000 — enough to stay open until at least June, principal Yvonne Boyd announced Tuesday.

Tayler Leverenz, 19, is from Illinois, but is taking advantage of the University of Missouri-St. Louis' offering of in-state tuition for Illinois residents.
Ryan Delaney / St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a tug-of-war happening across the Mississippi River for students in the St. Louis region, with some colleges erasing the borders of in-state tuition prices to help navigate tough financial times.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale was the vanguard in the area, offering Missouri students a reduced price in 2009, a move that’s resulted in 95 more students from west of the Mississippi in the last five years. And the University of Missouri-St. Louis, which for five years has offered in-state tuition for Metro East residents, is expanding that benefit to all Illinois residents.

But the big winners in all of this are the students, who now have more colleges to choose from and at more affordable prices.

LGBT rights activists at a St. Louis march on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated, 2:15 p.m. Feb. 27 — Three people were arrested toward the end of  Saturday’s LGBTQ rally in downtown St. Louis, according to the city police department and event organizer Keith Rose.

Two of them, 21-year-old Edward Pingleton and 19-year-old Aideen O'Brien, face misdemeanor charges. O'Brien is accused of jumping on the back of an officer who was trying to arrest another protester, and Pingleton allegedly attempted to punch an officer. Neither had attorneys listed in court records. They're next due in court April 5th.

Andy Sminds / Flickr

Updated 9:40 a.m. — This story and the accompanying photo have been correct to reflect the charter sponsors of the Confluence Academy network.

Missouri’s State Board of Education has limited power when it comes to charter schools, mostly making sure they meet the state’s requirements, such as staying open a certain number of days. Academic performance is out of its hands.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Increasingly, college life is less about walking across the quad or stopping at the dining hall before sitting in a big lecture hall, and more about flipping open a laptop at home.

Take Royal Witcher, a St. Louis native and Army veteran who lives in Belmont, Mississippi. He completed most of his bachelor’s degree through the University of Phoenix, a fully online institution, but often felt like just a number.

When it was time for his MBA, the 45-year-old did his research — lots of it — and decided on Maryville University, which has a campus in suburban St. Louis. But he didn’t return to Missouri, instead taking advantage of an online degree.

Mizzou's Columns
File Photo| Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens wants a former Mizzou football player and two others with ties to the state’s flagship university campus to help oversee the University of Missouri System.

The new curators-in-waiting are Darryl Chatman, Jeff Layman and Jamie Farmer. They all studied at the Columbia campus, and need to be confirmed by the state Senate.

Greitens announced the three appointments to the Board of Curators on Wednesday. The spots were open after he withdrew former Gov. Jay Nixon’s interim appointments.

KT Klng | Flickr

Of the hundreds of education bills Missouri lawmakers have filed this session, charter school expansion has the best chance of passing.

Not only is Republican Gov. Eric Greitens an enthusiastic backer of school choice, but charter school advocates say the desire for alternatives to traditional public schools is broadening.

Mizzou's Columns
File Photo| Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 11 with correction about how state universities can raise tuition -- The University of Missouri System is strongly considering tuition increases for its four campuses due to declining enrollment and declining state funding.

It’s still early in the budgeting process, but this week’s Board of Curators meeting was the first chance for the governing body to discuss Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposal for another large cut in state funding — 9 percent — in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

The Ferguson Police Department's new D.A.R.E vehicle, a surplus humvee, which residents have said is insensitive to use.
Ferguson Police Department

The Ferguson Police Department’s new D.A.R.E. vehicle, a Humvee, bears the usual markings of the national drug-prevention program with recognizable red letters and its lion mascot.

However, the mascot’s name — Daren the Lion — has grabbed the attention of some residents and parents in the north county municipality. They believe it’s insensitive because it's too similar to Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August 2014. That shooting touched off weeks of at-times violent demonstrations to which law enforcement brought military-style vehicles.

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

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is extending its in-state tuition rate further into Illinois, offering the cheaper price to all the state’s residents, not just those in the Metro East.

The University of Missouri curators approved the change Thursday as part of its quarterly meeting, held in Columbia at the system’s flagship campus.

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