Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

Fontbonne University opened in Clayton in 1923. It's buying the closed John F. Kennedy High School in Manchester for a west St. Louis County campus.
Provided | Fontbonne University

In a move to “significantly expand enrollment,” Fontbonne University is buying the recently shuttered John F. Kennedy High School in western St. Louis County to be a new home for the Catholic University’s athletics and continuing education.

Leaders of Fontbonne and the Archdiocese of St. Louis announced the transfer of ownership of the Manchester-based property at a news conference Monday morning. A price on the property sale was not disclosed.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Normandy and Riverview Gardens  received high enough state academic performance scores to get the north St. Louis County-based school districts in better standing with state education leaders.

Two districts in the region — St. Louis City and Ferguson-Florissant — saw their annual performance scores dip below the threshold the state considers to be fully accredited. Pattonville and Orchard Farms both received perfect scores.

No district in the state earned marks that would be considered failing in the Annual Performance Report, or APR, published Wednesday by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. APR is a key indicator on how well schools are educating students.

St. Louis Community College Chancellor Jeff Pittman at a Board of Trustees meeting on April 20, 2017.
File | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Community College could once again cut its faculty and staff this year as it continues to lose students and state funding.

The public two-year college’s Board of Trustees listened to feedback Tuesday for more than an hour to a budget reduction plan at its downtown headquarters.

Ray Cummings, second from left, a St. Louis Public Schools teacher and member of the governance task force, asks a question during a meeting Monday, Nov. 13, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

A task force assigned with recommending how St. Louis Public Schools should be governed heard a consistent message from city residents during a series of public meetings: Return control of the district back to an elected board of education.

At three meetings over the past 10 days, St. Louis residents repeatedly said that the appointed, three-person Special Administrative Board, or SAB, has achieved its objective during a decade of running SLPS — and contended that a democratically elected board should control the district again.

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis American was founded in 1928 and played a critical role in publicizing civil rights struggles in St. Louis, among other black press outlets.

The mainstream press did not cover relations that mattered in African-American communities. Due to the lack of coverage, black newspapers filled the void missing in their communities.

charter schools tha racially diverse in recent years.
Camille Phillips I St. Louis Public Radio

If you walk into most public schools in the city of St. Louis, you’d never know that five black parents won a federal desegregation lawsuit in 1975, or that years of appeals resulted in the creation of a much lauded voluntary intra-district transfer program in 1983.

According to a St. Louis Public Radio analysis of state data, the percentage of racially segregated public schools in the city of St. Louis rose over the past 26 years, from 54 percent to 78 percent. Today, most of the students in the St. Louis public school district attend schools where all, or nearly all, of their classmates are African-American.

Charter schools used to be even more segregated than the district. But, in recent years, a handful have succeeded in attracting both white and black families. The choices of past and current parents at City Garden Montessori, in the Botanical Heights neighborhood, illustrate how one charter school achieved integration, and the barriers to replicating that model.

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

Gateway Media Literacy Partners is hosting its 12th annual Media Literacy Week. The events of the week encourage community conversations to help audiences evaluate what they see or hear in the media.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked to Gateway Media Literacy Partners members Mary Pat Gallagher, founder and executive director of Lolly’s Place, and Natasha Casey, professor of English and Communications at Blackburn College, about the importance of media literacy and issues of inclusion.

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

St. Louis Public Schools’ elected board of education has continued to hold elections and conduct meetings, even though it’s had no authority over the district for a decade.

The task belongs to a Special Administrative Board, or SAB, which is appointed. As the district moves back to improved academic performance, the three-person SAB has said its time of rule is nearing an end. The governor of Missouri, the mayor of St. Louis and the president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen each get to select one of the board members. 

Former President Bill Clinton exercises with fourth grader Jasmine Balven during a visit to Gateway Elementary School in St. Louis Nov. 1, 2017. Clinton visited the school to witness healthy food and exercise initiatives.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Former President Bill Clinton briefly exercised with elementary school students and kicked the tires of a retrofitted bus that delivers fresh produce to low-income neighborhoods during a Wednesday visit to St. Louis.

St. Louis is the third and final leg on a national tour of initiatives the 71-year-old’s foundation is supporting.

Students listen to a book reading during a giveaway event at Koch Elementary School in Riverview Gardens School District on March 2, 2017.
File | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The Riverview Gardens School District is falsely boosting its attendance numbers under an orchestrated effort to regain full state accreditation, two district principals allege in federal lawsuits.

The principals, Danielle DeLoatch and Amanda Bell-Greenough, filed the suits on Tuesday against the north St. Louis County district, alleging that they faced disciplinary action and retaliation for objecting to changing attendance records.

Riverview Gardens, which is trying to return to good standing with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, denies the allegations.

St. Louis Community College freshman Isaiah Wilson, 19, rallies in support of adjunct faculty's contract negotiations on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Community College’s part-time faculty continued pressuring the school administration on Monday for a new contract with a rally on its Kirkwood-based, Meramec campus.

The protest comes a few days after a professor involved in those negotiations was tackled and arrested at a Board of Trustees meeting.

Marlysha Tucker of River Roads Lutheran School connects a wire in order to program a computer to turn on an LED light during a Webster University cyber workshop Oct. 21, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Webster University held a workshop Saturday to introduce middle school girls to computer science and cybersecurity, with a goal of encouraging them to pursue careers in the field.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, less than 20 percent of the country’s cybersecurity analysts are women. The field is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade.

Special education teacher Tiffany Andrews teaches a fourth grader about possessive nouns on Oct. 17, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a limited pool of people certified to teach special education in the St. Louis metro area, putting districts from St. Charles County to the Metro East in intense competition for qualified candidates.

Even more well-off schools feel the impact of the shortage, but schools with higher needs and less money often have the most trouble filling positions.

Ritenour teacher Deepa Jaswal helps her high school students at the district's International Welcome Center, which is for English-language learners, mark the regions of the United States on a map.
File | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

When nearly half the students in a school can’t speak English, every teacher becomes a language instructor to some extent.

Recognizing that reality, federal grants will help Missouri public school districts and local universities to train more teachers to be help those students in the classroom.

A student works on an assignment in an introductory English language course at the International Institute of St. Louis. About 1,100 immigrants and refugees take English courses at the institute.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Maryam Bakhtari trained to be a doctor in Afghanistan. She never thought there would be a time when she couldn't practice gynecology. But as a new immigrant to the United States, her chosen field is beyond her. These days, she's focusing on a different kind of learning.

Bakhtari takes English classes at the International Institute of St. Louis. She’s among the approximate 1,100 adults who take the classes every year. The International Institute has the largest English for Speakers of Other Languages program in the St. Louis region. 

Waller McGuire (L) and Kristen Sorth (R) joined host Don Marsh.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

By the end of the year, 88 students will begin a program that could result in them earning a high school degree.

The Career Online High School is a partnership between the St. Louis Public Library and St. Louis County Library.

“We are trained to find ways to meet patrons where they are and come up with programs and services to help people in our community,” said Kristen Sorth, director of the St. Louis County Library.

Sorth along with Waller McGuire, executive director of the St. Louis Public Library, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Tuesday.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Third-grader students who live in low-income homes  underperformed their more well-off classmates by 50 percentage points in seven Illinois school districts in 2016, according to the advocacy organization Voices for Illinois Children. 

In its annual Kids Count report released last week, the group also noted that only 22 percent of Metro East third-grade students met expectations on the most recent state English test.

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

Black students in Missouri are four and a half times more likely to be suspended than white students, according to a report released Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.

The ACLU also found that black students with disabilities are more than three times as likely to be suspended as white students with disabilities.

Shannan Muskopf | flickr

Thousands of Missouri students over the last three years have accepted a state-funded opportunity to take the ACT college entrance exam for free. After a $4 million cut to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s assessment budget, the state ended the program in July.

Now, school districts in the St. Louis region are finding money to allow students to take the ACT.

Joseph Davis Ferguson-Florissant superintendent  1.29.15
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated Tuesday with additional information and statements  A prosecutor in North Carolina has dropped fraud charges against the superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

Joseph Davis’ attorney, Watsi Sutton, said Monday the charges were voluntarily dropped by North Carolina district attorney Seth Edwards.

Mallinckrodt serves as one of three full curriculum certified gifted public elementary schools in the St. Louis region offered by the St. Louis Public Schools. High expectations are set for students who have tested and been recognized as gifted students.
Provided | Fontbonne University

Fontbonne University has been awarded a $1.25 million federal grant earmarked for special education teacher training. It’s aimed at addressing a shortage of special education teachers in Missouri, Illinois and 44 other states.

The private, Catholic university, based in Clayton, will use the funding to provide scholarships to 40 graduate students in its speech-language pathology and deaf education programs over the next five years.

Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton (left) spoke with education reporter Dale Singer (right) on "St. Louis on the Air" on Aug. 24, 2015.
File | Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton is planning to retire after two decades leading the school.

Wrighton told Washington University’s board of trustees of his decision to step down on Friday, the 22nd anniversary of being inaugurated chancellor. He was hired in 1995.

Ranken Technical College officials, elected leaders — including Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, center — and donors hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new manufacturing incubator at the school's St. Louis campus on Friday.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Ranken Technical College broke ground on a manufacturing incubator the school says will also provide training to its students that they can use in their careers.

The two-year college held a ceremonial groundbreaking Friday morning as part of a larger day devoted to promoting manufacturing.

Clockwise from top left: Affton Superintendent Steve Brotherton, Kirkwood Interim Superintendent Michele Condon, Lindbergh Superintendent Jim Simpson and St. Charles Superintendent Jeff Marion. Brotherton, Simpson and Marion are retiring in June.
Provided

There’s a competition afoot among St. Louis-area school districts that are trying to find the best person to fill open superintendent positions.

But it’s not an unusual situation, especially because the area has so many districts, Missouri School Board Association associate executive director Mike Parnell said.

Lewis Claybon has been standing on a corner along Tower Grove Avenue in St. Louis for "a long, long time. About 14, 15 years," he said, waving to passers-by.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

It would be just another stop sign in St. Louis if there wasn’t this man on the corner of Tower Grove and Vista avenues, his hands in the air, waving and hollering greetings at every passing car, cyclist and pedestrian.

For brief moments, commuters slow down and the daily grind eases. Everyone waves back.

LIndsey Noblott and Lisa Greening joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss a new St. Louis-wide literacy initiative launching this week.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Tomorrow, the first-ever St. Louis city and county-wide literacy initiative launches. The program is a collaboration between Ready Readers and the St. Louis Regional Early Childhood Council and it is called “Turn the Page STL.”

Second-grade students at Koch Elementary School in the Riverview Gardens school district listen to a book reading Thursday.
File photo | Ryan Delaney / St. Louis Public Radio

A new, voluntary version of the Riverview Gardens’ school transfer program is serving just a fraction of the students enrolled the year before.

Although Riverview is no longer legally obligated to pay for students to attend other school districts, it made arrangements with several schools to let students remain where they are for up to four years.

But with fewer districts participating on the receiving end and no bus transportation, the new program is serving a quarter of the students who were enrolled last school year.

Students get ready for a violin class taught by Philip Tinge at Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School in East St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School in East St. Louis is one of hundreds of private schools in Illinois that could see a financial boost from the state’s new tax credit scholarship program.

More than 90 percent of the families who send their children to the school fall below the federal poverty line of $24,600 for a family of four. That gives them top priority to receive a scholarship.

Although children from low-income families get priority,  if Illinois follows the pattern of other states with similar programs, most of the tax credit scholarships will go to middle-class families.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri education leaders want to spend about $121 million more on K-12 public schools next school year, they told the State Board of Education on Tuesday, though it’s not clear whether the state can afford it..

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education outlined its proposed budget in Jefferson City, which would include a $98.9 million increase in the K-12 funding formula.

Fred Pestello, president of Saint Louis University, joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the school's bicentennial and issues facing institutions of higher education.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In November 2018, Saint Louis University, the oldest university west of the Mississippi, will mark its 200th year in higher education. It is the second oldest Jesuit university in the United States. SLU is kicking off celebrations a little bit early, starting this Saturday

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