Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

Campers listen to Katie Dreas of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explain foliage during a summer camp at Little Creek Nature Center on July 17, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Children benefit from a balanced diet of screen time and outdoors time, studies show.

In the St. Louis area, several camps and summer youth jobs focus on environmental education and exploration. St. Louis Public Radio visited a smattering of them to see what kids are learning.

Elliot Haney | via Flickr

College freshmen who loathe math, rejoice: Algebra may not be a factor when it comes to earning a degree from Missouri public colleges and universities.

Under the guidance of the Missouri Department of Higher Education, all but one school (Truman State) have divided mathematics requirements into different “Math Pathways” that align with students’ majors. Beginning in the fall semester, science or engineering students will still need to take algebra, but a liberal arts student will take statistics or a mathematical reasoning course.

Jennings Superintendent Art McCoy talks with students in a construction course at Jennings High School on Jan. 30, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

All of Jennings High School’s most recent senior class is either bound for college or has found employment, according to the district.

That does include McDonald’s for some grads, but district administrators said the fast-food chain is a partner and enrolled students into its college scholarship program.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri education officials are promoting a free, online resource to help kids practice math skills over the summer. Studies show students can lose more than two months of progress during the break.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Photos of smiling children in school uniforms grace the sides of buses, large billboards and flyers in mailboxes throughout the St. Louis area. Those images — and the selling points written underneath them — are meant for parents trying to figure out which school to send their kids.

With the dozens of charter schools and St. Louis Public Schools vying for students (and the state tax dollars that follow), the institutions have to act more like businesses, marketing themselves — sometimes heavily.

Kids sitting on the floor in a classroom
Phil Roeder | Flickr

Illinois passed a budget Thursday for the first time since 2015, and is giving more money to education than in previous spending plans.

But several years of prorated and delayed state aid have forced K-12 school districts in St. Clair and Madison counties to cut staff, increase class sizes, take on debt and deplete cash reserves. And, like the state’s finances, it’s going to take time for districts to bounce back.

School bus
Vipal | Flickr

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens temporarily pulled $15 million worth of funding for school transportation on June 30, leaving many rural districts in the lurch when it comes to paying for busing.

But school administrators say they have to get kids to the buildings, so taking buses off the road isn’t an option. And parents often don’t have the means or the time to drive those long distances.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Federal financial aid for low-income students that's now available all year could push more students through community colleges faster and increase the likelihood of them earning a degree.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the return of year-round Pell Grants for the fiscal year that began July 1. And with large portions of students studying at community colleges eligible for the grant program, it could increase summer enrollment figures.

Schoolbus
Phil Roeder | Flickr

Of the states that turned in their homework early to the U.S. Department of Education for how they’ll roll out a major overhaul in education policy, Illinois’ adaptation got a mixed grade in an independent review.

Bellwether Education Partners, a research and policy think tank, read through 17 state plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act submitted in April and scored them in a report published this week. It found Illinois’ plan has certain aspects to be commended, but is also light on specifics in several other parts.

Leslie, right, on a walk with her mom near their St. Louis County home. Leslie is gender-fluid and a rising sophomore at Parkway West High School only has one restroom she can use.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s one gender-neutral restroom at Parkway West High School. It’s in the nurse’s office.

Depending on where her classes are, getting there can be a long walk for Leslie. She’s a 15-year-old with a punk-rock look: bright blue hair, dark jeans that are ripped at the knees, a T-shirt and Converse All-Star sneakers. Leslie was born female, but now identifies as gender-fluid. Neither gender feels right to her, which is why she’s uncomfortable with using single-sex, multi-stall bathrooms.

Dr. Sheandra Brown and Kristy Jackson are two local educators who recently spoke at The Crooked Room Conference at UMSL, which focused on improving outcomes for African American girls and women in education.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a growing body of research that shows African-American girls are punished in school at rates much higher than girls of any other race.

St. Louis city students ride a Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation, VICC, school bus on May 11, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri is doing “only what’s necessary” to meet new federal education guidelines and still be eligible for the funds tied to them, state education officials said Tuesday.

The state education department also is revising its School Improvement Program for the sixth time, so it’s hard to know what the future of school accountability will look like in Missouri.

Darnell Loyd, of Northwest Academy of Law High School, is one of 50 students enrolled in Washington University's summer College Prep Program.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University is a top-tier college, attracting both the nation’s smartest and richest students. That often puts the private university on the wrong end of rankings for socioeconomic diversity.

To reverse that distinction, Wash U is halfway through an effort to have at least 13 percent of its students be from low-income backgrounds or be the first in their family to attend college. But proponents of college access say the goal isn’t ambitious enough — and won’t help foster a different atmosphere on campus.

Obinno Coley is the entrepreneurship teacher at Normandy High School.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Obinno Coley’s first day as a student teacher at McCluer North, his supervisor had to leave when his wife went to the hospital to have a baby.

“He gave me a book and said: ‘you’re on your own,'” Coley told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Monday. “I worked with that book for the next three months and at the end of it I said ‘wherever I go, I will bring this with me.’”

Educator Thomas Hoerr recently wrote a book called "The Formative Five: Fostering Grit, Empathy and Other Success Skills Students Need."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

“Grit” is a word we often hear that students should possess. But how is such a quality instilled in young people? And is that enough to make them successful?

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, author, educator and scholar Thomas Hoerr joined us to discuss his new book “The Formative Five: Fostering Grit, Empathy and Other Success Skills Students Need.”

Maryville University's esports team playing in April.
Courtesy of Maryville University

Updated at 6:20 a.m. May 29 with tournament results — Battling in the video game "League of Legends" is a team sport, just like basketball, according to Marko Fosniki. Everyone has a role and a position.

Unlike basketball, he and his teammates are still working on how to play it: “Literally we’re the first generation and we have to figure out all the mistakes we make on our own and we can help our teammates out that way.”

The Maryville University esports team successfully defended its title in Los Angeles this weekend, beating the University of Toronto in Sunday's finals

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers, with full GOP control of the legislature and governor’s office, seemed ready to pass a number of school choice bills when they gathered earlier this year.

Months later, they have nothing to show for it: No expansion of charter schools throughout Missouri, no creation of scholarships that certain students could use for private school and no overhaul of the student transfer rules for failing school districts.

Students at the Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls on May 12, 2017, a St. Louis charter school that opened in 2015.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The pace of new charter schools seeking to open in St. Louis has slowed, according to the universities that act as sponsors and receive formal applications.

While the reasons vary, charter sponsors say they’ve learned more about what it takes to successfully open and sustain a school both financially and academically, which is helping them weed out weak applications.

A student walks through the University of Missouri-St. Louis' campus Friday afternoon, May 19, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri-St. Louis will reduce its spending by another 2.5 percent, campus leaders announced Friday, meeting a deadline that is part of a budget cutting process across the University of Missouri System.

A group of Hazelwood West students protest their suspensions Thursday May 18, 2017 outside the district's administration offices.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Hazelwood school officials lifted the suspensions of nearly 200 high school students Thursday after several days of pressure from fellow students, parents and civil rights groups.

The students had been given five-day suspensions and were banned from participating in the graduation ceremony at Hazelwood West High School after they walked out of classes Monday to protest on behalf of the teachers. The teachers had been hoping to negotiate raises with the district. 

Parents and alumni wave signs welcoming students back to Normandy High School for the 2013 school year.
File photo: Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Normandy’s schools will remain under the control of a state-appointed board for three more years, education officials said Tuesday, adding that they are optimistic about students’ academic progress in the state’s only unaccredited school district.

Jared Leppert, a graduate student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, conducts a learning test with a student at St. Louis College Prep on Monday, May 8, 2017. The charter school hired Leppert as an intern.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers assigned higher education institutions primary oversight of charter schools when authorizing them 20 years ago. Universities know a thing or two about schools, after all.

It’s not the norm when it comes to charter schools in the United States, though, as a majority of the 42 states (and Washington, D.C.) put the independent schools’ governance in the hands of a local school board.

Trish Nguyen works on a graph in a second-grade class at Confluence Academy South City on April 28, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Gateway Science Academy wants families to be satisfied. City Garden Montessori is aiming for racial equity. Neither are unique goals for charter schools in St. Louis.

 

Most of the city’s 17 public charter school systems have their own definition of success, including academic growth, family involvement and personal development. But they’re also required by Missouri law to take the state’s academic standards into account.

 

And without a definitive way to measure success, parents have to trust that the schools are doing right by their children.

Students working in a classroom of Gateway Science Academy in April 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been nearly 20 years since charter schools took root in Missouri, bringing independently operated but publicly funded education to St. Louis and Kansas City.

Often touted as a means of allowing parents flexibility when it comes to their kids’ education, “school choice” expansion is growing in favor among Republican politicians, including U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

In the coming months, St. Louis Public Radio will detail the world of charter schools. But, as any teacher would tell you, an introductory lesson is the first place to start.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
(via Flickr/Washington University/with permission)

Updated, 7:40 p.m. with statement from Washington University —

About 120 full-time faculty members who aren’t eligible for tenure at Washington University will be able to decide whether to unionize before the end of the school year.

Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Missouri Capitol, 2013
MoBikeFed | Flickr

Updated 6 p.m. April 28 to correct that Missouri would be among the only states with an abortion notification law — The only thing Missouri lawmakers must do in the final two weeks of 2017 legislative session is pass the state budget for the coming fiscal year.

But there are a whole lot of things they could do — some of which Gov. Eric Greitens wants them to do — such as tightening abortion regulations, raising the standard for workplace discrimination and creating the last-in-the-country prescription drug monitoring program.

Courtesy of the University of Missouri-St. Louis

Updated at 5 p.m. with UM System tuition proposal — The University of Missouri-St. Louis is on pace to close its $15 million dollar budget deficit ahead of schedule.

UMSL’s top financial officer told administrators this week that the school should finish the fiscal year, which ends June 30, about $500,000 in the black instead of being $3.6 million over budget.

Collinsville pitcher Ryan Siverly tries to apply a tag on O'Fallon's Jacob Dryer in a high school baseball game Tuesday, April 25, 2017 in Collinsville, Illinois. Players at both schools have to pay a fee to play sports.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Several Metro East school superintendents are among the 413 public school leaders who are calling on Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-majority legislature to pass a budget after nearly two years of disagreements, and fully fund public education.

The downtown headquarters building for the St. Louis Public Schools
File photo | Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ Metro Academic and Classical High School is again among the nation’s 500 best in making its students ready for college.

U.S. News and World Report issued its annual rankings Tuesday, looking at more than 22,000 public high schools in the country, based on math and reading test scores, graduation rates and college preparedness.

Pages