Education

University of Missouri students protest a series of racist incidents on the Columbia campus in this photo from Nov. 9, 2015.
Bram Sable-Smith | KBIA

The University of Missouri should emphasize diversity in its recruitment, train professors in the importance of diversity in their courses and increase outreach to improve diversity among faculty and staff, a systemwide task force recommended on Wednesday.

Those proposals were among priority items included in the task force’s report. It was responding to a comprehensive audit of diversity, equity and inclusion practices at the university conducted by the consulting firm IBIS.

LeDiva Pierce with her daughters Alfreida (left) and Unique. Pierce is one of two charter school parents seeking to intervene as plaintiffs in St. Louis Public School's dispute with the state over funding.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Two parents of children in charter schools in St. Louis are taking their fight to be involved in a school-funding lawsuit to a federal appeals court.

Earlier this year, a U.S. District Court judge rejected attempts by Ken Ross Jr. and LeDiva Pierce to intervene in a motion brought by the St. Louis Public Schools and the NAACP. The court actions seeks to stop money from a 1999 sales tax from going to charter schools and want the charters to pay back $50 million in tax proceeds they have received over the past 10 years.

Paul Ziegler, new executive director of EducationPlus
Provided | Education Plus

Paul Ziegler, the superintendent of the Northwest R-1 school district in Jefferson County, will become executive director of EducationPlus on July 1, 2017.

Ziegler will succeed Matt Goodman, who has been interim executive director of the area school collaborative. Don Senti stepped down as head of the agency in April following questions about finances.

The University of Missouri System is beginning a nationwide search to name the next permanent Chancellor of the University of Missouri campus in Columbia.

Hank Foley has been serving in the role of Interim Chancellor since the resignation of former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin in November 2015. Foley issued this statement Monday, indicating he will apply to the position in an effort to drop the “interim” title:

Shammara Smith's son Ahmon is a sophomore at Oakville High. Her daughter Ahmiya is in fifth grade at Blaze Elementary in the Mehlville school district.
Provided by Shammara Smith

With the Riverview Gardens School District regaining provisional accreditation in January, parents who transferred their children to other districts under the state’s student transfer law are considering their options.

Even though the change means Riverview no longer has to pay for transfers, the district has made arrangements allowing all 436 transfer students to at least finish out the school year.

But because Riverview will stop providing transportation in June, Shammara Smith doesn’t know if she’ll be able to keep her son, who’s a sophomore in high school, and her daughter, who’s in fifth grade, enrolled in Mehlville.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon (center) talks with state board member John Martin (left) and deputy education commissioner Ron Lankford at the state school board meeting in October 2015.
File photo |Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:30 p.m. with comments from superintendent — After almost a decade without accreditation from the state of Missouri, the Riverview Gardens School District in north St. Louis County will be reclassified as provisionally accredited effective Jan. 4.

The state board of education voted Friday for the classification upgrade to take effect on the first day of Riverview Gardens’ second semester on the recommendation of the Missouri Department of Education.

Riverview was last provisionally accredited in 2007.

empty classroom
KT Klng | Flickr

The Missouri Charter Public School Commission had a good reason to locate its office in the heart of the Cortex entrepreneur mecca in St. Louis.

Robbyn Wahby, who became the commission’s first executive director last year after serving as education adviser to Mayor Francis Slay, said she hopes to work with a wide range of people who are interested in starting charters. Her office in the CIC building on South Sarah is a good place to bring such people together, she said in a recent interview there.

Incoming UM President Mun Choi speaks to a reception at UMSL Tuesday, 11-29-16
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

As he begins visiting all four campuses in the University of Missouri system, incoming president Mun Choi is taking time to listen and learn about many of the issues facing the school.

But he made clear during a visit to the St. Louis campus on Tuesday that he intends to make the university a destination for students from all over who are seeking a world-class education in a changing environment, and he intends for UM to be active in the communities it serves.

Zora Mulligan, Missouri's Commissioner for Higher Education, has been in the position since August.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Zora Mulligan has been on the job as Missouri’s Commissioner of Higher Education for less than four months. But before she stepped into those shoes, she served as the University of Missouri System’s Chief of Staff during the 2015-2016 protests at Mizzou, which grasped the attention of the entire nation.

Did such exposure hurt the UM System as a whole?

William P. Johnson, new dean of Saint Louis University's law school
Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University has named William P. Johnson, a member of its faculty since 2012, as the new dean of its law school.

Johnson, 45, who has been director of the school’s Center for International and Comparative Law, takes over Jan. 3 from the retiring Michael Wolff, who has been dean since 2013. Johnson also has directed the SLU Summer Law program at the university’s campus in Madrid, Spain.

Students linked arms to demonstrate unity during a planned walk out on Thursday afternoon. (Nov. 17, 2016)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 18 with corrected information about incidents — The St. Louis County NAACP is planning to host another town hall meeting to address fall-out from recent racist incidents at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, while district administrators are reaffirming their commitment to address the issues.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon said he is optimistic the district will return to provisional accreditation, following a recommendation from the state department of elementary and secondary education board on Nov. 23, 2016.
Kimberly Ney | Riverview Gardens School District

Riverview Gardens School District should regain provisional accreditation, according to a recommendation from officials with Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

The department released its endorsement Wednesday to upgrade the district that has been unaccredited since 2007. The state board of education will make its final decision based on the recommendation at its Dec. 2 meeting.

District administrators called it "a day of celebration."

St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams watches as early results come in showing strong support for Proposition 1.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

The superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools is recommending that at least two schools in north St. Louis close at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

After having meetings at 10 schools that have low enrollment and shaky academic performance, Kelvin Adams told the district’s appointed board Monday night that Cote Brilliante Elementary, 2616 Cora Ave., in the Ville neighborhood, and Langston Middle School, 5511 Wabada Ave., in the Wells Goodfellow neighborhood don’t have the area population and development they need to stay open.

File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 22 with comments from plaintiff Willis Johnson. — A federal judge has ordered the Ferguson-Florissant School District to vote for its board members using cumulative voting.

Judge Rodney Sippel's order, filed Monday, closes a nearly 2-year-old civil rights challenge to the way the district has run school board elections. Sippel ruled in August that the old method of selecting candidates in at-large elections violated the federal Voting Rights Act, and halted the April 2017 school board elections until a solution could be found.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon discusses the district's progress at a state hearing May 5, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

More than 400 Riverview Gardens students enrolled in other area school districts under Missouri’s transfer law may be able to stay in their current schools until they reach a natural stopping point even if Riverview regains provisional accreditation in December.

As long as Riverview Gardens remains unaccredited, it is required to pay the districts receiving its students tuition equal to the amount of money the receiving district spends per student — in some cases as much as $21,000.

But if the state board of education upgrades Riverview’s accreditation status, as the district hopes, Riverview will no longer be legally obligated to pay.

school buses
Flickr

After area school superintendents voted Friday to phase out the current race-based student transfer program – and possibly replace it with a new one down the road – those who have been part of the program so far cited a lot of reasons it should continue.

Harlan Hodge, a city resident who graduated in 1992 from Parkway North High School, put his experience this way:

“The kids at our school, the teachers lovingly embraced us the same way they have everywhere else. It really became about excellence. I’m as committed to Parkway as I was 25 years ago when I started. I believe in the school district. I believe in teachers. I believe in our education. It was a great experience.”

Ladue police investigating black student's claim of being burned; high school students protest

Nov 16, 2016
During a Nov. 15 Ladue school board meeting, Tajah Walker discussed being the victim of racist harassment at Ladue Horton Watkins High School.
Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

Ladue police are investigating an incident where a black student at Ladue Horton Watkins High School was allegedly burned by a white student with a glue gun at school on  Nov. 10, two days after Donald Trump was elected U.S. president following a racially divisive campaign.

Ladue Police Chief Rich Wooten told The American that the youth’s mother, Lynette Hamilton, reported the incident and police are “currently investigating.”

KB35 | Flickr

If the voluntary student transfer program that has served more than 70,000 St. Louis area students over more than 30 years is going to continue beyond 2036, it probably will be based on a factor other than race.

At a meeting Friday, the board that oversees the program is expected to approve a final five-year extension that would begin phasing out the transfers in the 2023-24 school year. Students who begin kindergarten that year could remain through high school graduation.

Ashley Mosely waves to the principal of Koch Elementary, thanking him for his hands-on approach at her sons' school during a public hearing on unaccredited Riverview Gardens Nov. 14, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

If the parents and staff of Riverview Gardens were making the decision, the school district would soon no longer be unaccredited.

Parents, students, teachers and principals praised the district’s improvement by the dozens Monday night at a public hearing state officials held at Westview Middle School.

Normandy Superintendent Charles Pearson agreed to a list of principles to reduce suspensions on Saturday, May 23, 2015.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 14 9:45 a.m. with results of the assembly — By the 2018-2019 school year at least four school districts in the St. Louis area could have policies banning out of school suspensions for their youngest students.

At a regional assembly on suspensions Sunday evening, the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District pledged to ban out of school suspensions for pre-K through 3rd grade next school year. Ladue and Normandy committed to doing the same the following year. St. Louis Public Schools enacted their own ban this school year.

Washington University Professor Peter Kastor teaches his freshman politics seminar on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

On Election Day, as he does every day, Washington University freshman Jordan Phillips called his grandma in Florida. His message was a definite one.

“I called her about an hour before the polls started closing,” Phillips said. “She jokingly said, ‘Jordan, who's going to win the election?’ I said I would bet everything I have that Hillary Clinton's going to win.

“Then I called her the next day, and she's like, ‘So you owe me everything you have.’”

Kirkwood High School increased the number of students taking AP tests last school year by about 200, largely through encouraging more students of color to enroll.
File photo | Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

The Kirkwood School District is hoping to speed up plans for comprehensive staff diversity training in the wake of controversy over blackface at the high school last month.

The district’s racial equity plan created last school year originally called for the training to take place during the 2017 - 2018 school year.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon talks to students at Moline elementary school in Riverview Gardens Monday, Nov. 7, 2016.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 7 at 3:55 with Nixon comments: No Missouri school districts scored in the unaccredited range on this year’s annual report cards, but that doesn’t mean that the state’s two unaccredited districts – Normandy and Riverview Gardens – are automatically headed for an upgrade.

And among charters in St. Louis, one – Preclarus Mastery Academy – scored in the unaccredited range for the third straight year. Two others that scored in the same territory, with less than half of the possible points – Jamaa Learning Center and Better Learning Communities Academy – closed at the end of the last school year.

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

One year ago this week the University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia was in turmoil.

University of Missouri System president Tim Wolfe abruptly announced his resignation Nov. 9 as his leadership and handling of issues of race were strongly criticized. Several hours later, R. Bowen Loftin said he would be leaving his post as chancellor of the system's Columbia campus to coordinate university research.

Hank Foley was then moved from research  work for the system and the Columbia campus to become interim chancellor at Mizzou..

Mun Y. Choi, who comes to Missouri from the University of Connecticut, comes nearly a year after his predecessor, Tim Wolfe stepped down after demands from students who led protests on the Columbia campus.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated Nov. 3 with salary details – Incoming University of Missouri System President Mun Choi will make more money than his two predecessors.

The university system released details of Choi's contract Thursday, which show he'll earn a base salary of $530,000 a year.  The contract period runs from March 1, 2017, through June 30, 2022.

SLU's new version of its Billiken mascot
Bill Barrett | provided by SLU

Stung by the negative reception given its recent revamping of the Billiken mascot, Saint Louis University wants public input for a do-over.

SLU President Fred Pestello resorted to his favorite communication channel, Twitter, on Tuesday in a politically themed presentation titled "Decision 2016." It directs anyone interested in helping to shape Billiken 3.0 to an online poll to give views on the color, eyes, hairdo and other features on the upcoming revision.

Students at Adams Elementary in St. Louis Sept 2016
File photo, Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

While state education officials try to work around obstacles that have blocked efforts to move control of the St. Louis Public Schools back to an elected board, talks on the issue have been suspended until January at the earliest.

And with school board elections set for April, the balloting could take on additional significance.

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

Updated Oct. 31 at 3:05 p.m. with background — Nearly one year after former President Tim Wolfe stepped down amid racial unrest in Columbia, the University of Missouri system plans to introduce his successor on Wednesday.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the new president will be Mun Y. Choi, the provost at the University of Connecticut.

Unlike the university’s last two presidents, Wolfe and Gary Forsee, Choi comes to the University of Missouri from an academic background.

He joined the mechanical engineering department at Connecticut in 2008, after serving on the faculty at the University of Illinois from 1994 to 2000 and at Drexel University starting in 2000. He received his B.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1987 and M.A. and Ph.D. in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University.

A person filling in a standardized test bubble sheet with a pencil.
Flickr | Alberto G.

The Illinois State Board of Education has released its 2016 report cards analyzing how well the state’s public schools are educating its students.

Results from the second year using the standardized test known as PARCC continue to paint a dismal picture: more than 60 percent of students failed to meet state benchmarks in math and English.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Consider a student who may be weary of strict academic lectures and wants to see where all of this classroom learning is going to fit into the real world.

Then consider a business owner who wants to find new ideas and new energy but isn’t sure where to look.

A new cooperative program between Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and Madison County hopes to match the expertise of academia with the needs of business and the community to make all sides stronger and more successful.

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