Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

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.

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.

Incoming UM President Mun Choi speaks to a reception at UMSL Tuesday, 11-29-16
File | 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.

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.

The Milburn campus of O'Fallon Township High School, where the district's ninth-graders attend class.
O'Fallon Township High School via Facebook

Updated March 3, 2017 with results of an emergency meeting — A Metro East high school has reversed the severity of its planned teacher cuts for next school year.

At an emergency meeting Thursday, the O’Fallon Township High School board of education unanimously approved a new budget deficit reduction plan. The new plan eliminates four classroom teaching positions instead of six full-time and one part-time teacher.  Guidance counseling and library services are no longer impacted by the cuts.

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.

Flickr | orangeacid

Illinois State Superintendent Tony Smith is touting the state’s 2016 Advanced Placement test results.

Illinois ranks 4th in the nation for increasing the percent of students who take and pass AP exams according to a report from the College Board, which administers the tests.

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.

St. Louis area high school juniors Connor Ouchi (left) and Shawnee Boswell work on an exercise about making tough decisions during Youth Leadership St. Louis' Diversity Day on Sat., Feb. 18, 2017.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Clusters of St. Louis area teens dotted the atrium of the Nestle Purina headquarters on Saturday as the 70-odd students intently debated several mature issues that challenge many adults.

Racial diversity. Transgender identity. Religious tolerance. New Americans and immigrants. Despite taking on different topics, the groups had one thing in common: intense, but civil discussions.

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.

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.

Tax credits | Flickr

The Missouri Senate could soon approve legislation that would give tax credits to people who donate money to fund private school scholarships.

Under Senate Bill 32, anyone could make donations to nonprofit groups that would use the funds to set up education savings accounts.

Then, parents could use those accounts to pay tuition at the school of their choice, including religious schools.

Daniel Doerr, University of Missouri-St. Louis' assistant director for international studies, advises students about the impacts of President Donald Trump's travel ban at a forum Tuesday, Jan. 31.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated, Jan. 31 7:10 p.m. with advice from University of Missouri-St. Louis officials: 

Local colleges are advising all international students to avoid leaving the country amid President Donald Trump's executive order barring entry to travelers from seven countries.

Saint Louis University's newest version of the Billiken mascot, unveiled Wed., Jan. 25, 2017.
Saint Louis University

That old adage about not succeeding the first time and trying again certainly applies to Saint Louis University's mascot.

On Wednesday night, the university unveiled its new Billiken mascot, which is a re-do of a re-do.

The school first revamped its mythical symbol last September, but it was quickly met with disgust and jeers. 

Eighth-graders watch President Donald Trump's inaugural address during class at North Kirkwood Middle School.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Eighth-grade students at North Kirkwood Middle School began an extended social studies class today, Inauguration Day, with a bit of political therapy. Teachers had them write down everything negative about the 2016 presidential campaign and election. There was no sharing, though peeks over shoulders gleaned key words like emails and racism.

Then the tearing began.

Chancey Granger, Karen Kalish and Karen Evans discussed the importance of teacher home visits on "St. Louis on the Air."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis native and self-identified “serial social entrepreneur” Karen Kalish founded HOMEWORKS! The Teacher Home Visit Program in 2007. Kalish was familiar with programs like Parents as Teachers that used home visits to support parents of infants and toddlers, and she wanted to create something similar for kids who had already entered the education system.

That’s when she decided to start a teacher home visit program.

“There’s two visits a year,” Kalish explained. “The first visit [is about] relationship and trust building, and the second is about academics.”

File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:01 p.m. Jan. 05 with response from the court — Ferguson-Florissant's April school board elections will operate under its old at-large system. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the NAACP's request to switch to the cumulative voting method a federal judge ordered earlier in the voting rights case. 

St. Louis Public Radio's Donna Korando and Dale Singer have led storied journalism careers in St. Louis. On Friday, they retire.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Politics editor Donna Korando and education reporter Dale Singer have made their marks on the St. Louis Public Radio newsroom, but they’ve also led storied journalistic careers in St. Louis at outlets including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Beacon.

As of Friday, both Korando and Singer will leave St. Louis Public Radio for their next adventures: retirement.

Kristin Sobolik, new provost at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, in photo provided by the campus Jan. 4, 2017
Provided | University of Missouri-St. Louis

Kristin Sobolik, currently the dean of the college of liberal arts at Wright State University, will become provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis on June 1.

 

Chancellor Tom George announced her selection on Wednesday, praising her work in increasing diversity at Wright State in Dayton, Ohio. Those areas have been a big focus at the University of Missouri system in recent months.

 

Provided | Alliance Defending Freedom

When Annette Kiehne looked for ways to make the playground safer at Trinity Lutheran Church preschool in Columbia, Missouri, she had no idea the plan would become a federal case – all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As director of the school, she just wanted to replace the playground’s pea gravel surface with shredded tires, which would be a more comfortable cushion for the inevitable tumbles from monkey bars and such. And the church playground qualified for a state program that was giving away just such a surface.

But after Trinity was judged fourth best of the 14 applicants who qualified to get the shredded rubber, state officials changed their minds. Because the preschool is run by a church, they decided, Missouri law bars it from taking part in a program funded with state money.

MCU's Dietra Wise Baker talks during a workshop on the problems in the juvenile justice system in Missouri on May 14, 2016.
File Photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louisans working to reform school discipline and the juvenile justice system say they are pushing for clear district policies in response to Missouri’s revised criminal code.

That’s after Ferguson-Florissant and Hazelwood issued warnings in December that Missouri’s newly revised criminal code could mean students would be charged with felonies for fighting.

Drawing of child and scales of justice
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Warnings issued by two St. Louis County school districts Thursday sparked a flurry of concern that students who fight in school will be charged with a felony beginning in January.

In a video posted to YouTube, Ferguson-Florissant Superintendent Joseph Davis told students and parents that “the consequences of poor choices and bad decisions, a simple fight, may follow you for the rest of your life” when changes to Missouri’s criminal code take effect in 2017.

KB35 | Flickr

With a new Missouri governor ready to take over, lawmakers are trying once again to solve an old problem: how students in unaccredited school districts can get the education they deserve.

Since the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the transfer law in 2013, students in unaccredited districts have had the right to enroll in nearby accredited districts, at the cost of millions of dollars to their home districts that had to pay tuition and in some cases transportation as well.

social security card corner
File photo | Kelsey Proud | St. Louis Public Radio

An increasing number of older Americans are having problems with student loan debt — so much so that their Social Security checks are being reduced because the federal government is withholding loan repayments.

And those reductions result in Social Security recipients falling below the poverty line.

Lucy Englander and Rose Hanley joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the Little Bit Foundation.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis area non-profit The Little Bit Foundation has aided schoolchildren in need for the past 15 years by providing one-on-one support in schools to identify specific needs from underwear and eyeglasses to meals and mental health.

The organization was founded by Rose Hanley, Little Bit’s executive director, with a simple coat drive for an area school. Now, the non-profit serves 25 schools and 7,000 children in the St. Louis area.

Tax credits | Flickr

St. Louis is backing charter school parents in a legal dispute over how money from a 1999 city sales tax is distributed.

St. Louis officials  argue that the money from the sales tax was designed to help all students attending public schools in the city, not just those in district schools.

The St. Louis Public Schools and the NAACP, which filed the lawsuit, say the money should go only to the school district, not to charters, and they want to recover more than $50 million that has gone to the charters since 2006.

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