Chris Nicastro

Teaching Race
10:06 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

A Teachable Moment: ‘Adults, We Have Such A Hard Time Having These Conversations’

Vincent Flewellen leads a lesson on Ferguson during his eighth-grade multicultural studies course at Ladue Middle School.
Credit Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

This story is the first part of A Teachable Moment, a three-part series that profiles how issues raised by events in Ferguson are being discussed in schools and classrooms across the St. Louis region.

Students were enjoying the last few weeks of summer vacation when mass demonstrations erupted in Ferguson following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown on Aug 9.

Read more
Week In Review
11:33 am
Fri September 26, 2014

The Rundown: Police, Courts And Racial Disparities

Police lined the sidewalk in front of the Justice Center in Clayton.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

We know that you listen to us on air and check our website for news and information about our region. We hope that you look at our website every day, but we know that's not always possible. So, once a week, on Friday, we will highlight some of the website's top stories of the week.

Ferguson and beyond

After Two Police Shootings, Questions Emerge About Use Of Force

Read more
St. Louis on the Air
4:16 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Missouri Education Commissioner Talks About Normandy, Common Core, Michael Brown, More

Chris Nicastro talks before the Missouri House Budget Committee in January 2014.
Credit Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

For the last five years, Chris Nicastro has served as commissioner of Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She announced her retirement earlier this month and will step down at the end of the year.

Her tenure was marked by controversial decisions regarding school districts in north St. Louis County, including the Normandy School District, now known as the Normandy Schools Collaborative.  

St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Dale Singer spoke with Nicastro earlier this week and we aired a portion of that conversation on “St. Louis on the Air.” 

Read more
Common Core
5:11 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

School Standards Meetings Have Contentious Start

Credit (via Flickr/evmaiden)

Depending on whose opinion you get, this week’s initial meetings to draw up new school standards for Missouri students were a “Common Core cheerleading session” or a strong-arm attempt that was “hijacked by political extremists” on the right.

Either way, the eight committees impaneled under a law passed earlier this year appear to have a long way to go to meet a deadline of having the new standards ready for approval a year from now.

Read more
Retiring Commissioner
2:21 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Tough Grader: Nicastro Gives Her Tenure As Education Commissioner A C+

Chris Nicastro
Credit DESE website

As she moves toward her retirement after more than five years as Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, Chris Nicastro has definite thoughts about what she got done, what she would have liked to accomplish and what her successor needs to bring to the job.

She also – after just a slight hesitation – has a pretty good idea of how, as a teacher, she would grade her tenure in Jefferson City.

“Oh …. probably a C-plus,” she said during a wide-ranging interview this week at the Wainwright state office building downtown.

So you’re a tough grader?

Read more
Education Commissioner
4:41 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Nicastro Gets Mixed Grades For Education Tenure

Chris Nicastro
Credit DESE website

Now that she has announced her retirement at the end of the year, how should Chris Nicastro’s tenure as Missouri’s commissioner of education be graded?

Using the guarded tone of academia, Alex Cuenca, an assistant professor of education at Saint Louis University, gave this assessment Tuesday:

“I think she did the best she could with the circumstances she was given and the cards she was dealt.”

The response from state Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, who himself is about to leave public service after a long career in the General Assembly, was pithier.

Read more
Education Commissioner
12:18 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Nicastro To Retire As Head Of Missouri Schools

Chris Nicastro
Credit DESE website

Updated 5:01 p.m. with reaction, more details.

Chris Nicastro, whose sometimes controversial tenure as Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education has been marked by efforts to improve urban schools and the transfer program out of Normandy and Riverview Gardens, announced Monday she will retire at the end of the year.

Read more
School transfers
2:51 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Tuition Policy Change Could Lead To Bankruptcy in Normandy

Credit (via Google Maps screen capture)

Missouri education officials now say they will pay whatever tuition a receiving district charges for transfer students from Normandy, rather than a lower amount imposed earlier, raising new concerns about the state-run district's ability to survive financially.

Read more
Annual report card
12:01 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Normandy Falls, Riverview And St. Louis Rise In Newest School Report Cards

Credit Stephanie Zimmerman

Take a look at a statewide map showing how districts performance has changed between the past two school years, as well as five takeaways from the report cards.

While St. Louis Public Schools and Riverview Gardens have made solid gains in their push toward accreditation, Normandy finds itself in a deeper hole, earning just 7.1 percent of the possible points in Missouri’s latest list of school report cards released Friday.

Read more
State School Board
3:46 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Missouri School Board Loosens Normandy Transfer Rules

Peter Herschend
Credit DESE website

(Updated at 3:46 p.m. with revised transfer policy)

JEFFERSON CITY – With its president acknowledging that an earlier vote was an overreaction, the Missouri state board of education reversed itself Tuesday and broadened the terms under which students living in Normandy may transfer to nearby accredited districts in the upcoming school year.

Read more

Pages