Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

Sina Nassiri and Mehrdad Alvandipour are Iranian students at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

In August 2015, Mehrdad Alvandipour arrived in the United States from Iran to pursue graduate degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

“Basically, I love science,” he said. “That’s the reason I traveled here, to study at a good university and improve myself.”

Alvandipour hoped that studying at SIUE would put him on track to become a professor at an American university. But President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration has him, and other international research students in the St. Louis region, worried about the future.

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. 

Darnetta Clinkscale, left, joins Rick Sullivan and Richard Gaines (right) on the SAB board for her first meeting Sept. 26, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Even though the St. Louis public school system is now fully accredited, the city school district continues to be run by a state-appointed board.

Conversations with state board of education members indicate that it could remain that way for a while.

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.

Eric Mitchell picks up his daugther Keyannah and son Kobe after school on Jan. 11, 2017. Both children are in fourth grade at Preclarus Mastery Academy.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

As the St. Louis public school district emerges from the long shadow cast by 16 years of failing to measure up to state standards, it joins the ranks of Missouri's accredited school districts with another distinction: a better performance record than about half of the charter schools in the district’s footprint.

Moments after the state board of education voted to reclassify the district as fully accredited last week, the board got word that another St. Louis charter school, Preclarus Mastery Academy, will likely close this year due to poor performance.

Now that St. Louis Public Schools have regained accreditation, could the city’s educational landscape shift in response? Might parents start preferring the district's schools over charters and other alternatives?

It will take years to measure enrollment trends, but parents and educators have decided views on what direction they want to see trends take.

St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams and Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven speak with each other after the State Board of Education granted St. Louis Public Schools full accreditation.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this week, the State Board of Education granted St. Louis Public Schools full accreditation — the first time it could do so in 16 years.

Most members of the state board said that the school district’s turnaround success was due to Superintendent Kelvin Adams. On Friday’s “Behind the Headlines,” Adams joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the accreditation and where you can expect the school district to go from here.

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.”

Provided

James Westbury, the former superintendent of the Normandy School District and the last member of a small band of citizens who transformed a golf course into a major university, has died. He was 89.

Students at St. Louis Public Schools' Mason Elementary met Gov. Jay Nixon when he toured their school Jan. 5, 2017  in recognition of the district's pending accreditation.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated on Tuesday, January 10: The State Board of Education officially granted St. Louis Public Schools full accreditation, a key milestone for a district that's improved after years of struggle.

The state board gave unanimous approval to upgrade St. Louis Public Schools’ status from provisionally accredited to fully accredited. Officials with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education cited the district's rising test scores, improved attendance rates and fiscal stability as the reasons for recommending the change.

Preclarus Mastery Academy is housed within the Third Baptist Church at Washington Avenue.
St Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:06 p.m. with comment from Preclarus board chair — Students at the charter school Preclarus Mastery Academy will most likely have to enroll somewhere else next year.

After several years of poor showings on state report cards, the University of Missouri-St. Louis is revoking its sponsorship of the school, which is located in the Grand Center Arts District. 

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. 

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.

Students stand together as sophomore Ali Brock speaks to Ladue schools Superintendent Donna Jahnke at a student protest on Nov. 16, 2016.
File photo, Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When students at Ladue Horton Watkins High School staged two walkouts in November, they called for a stronger response to racial aggressions on campus — particularly an incident after the presidential election. A little over a month later, 16-year-old Niesha Ireland says the atmosphere at school still isn't perfect, but it's gotten a whole lot better.

“I still get those remarks in the hallway that aren’t too racist, but when you think about them, it’s like, ughhh,” Ireland said, rolling her eyes. “But at the same time it was way worse [before] — and the teachers wouldn’t catch it. Now the teacher will be like, ‘Excuse me, what did you just say?’ Maybe not all of the staff, but I do feel like they are hearing us out.”

The holiday season is a time when families gather, usually for food and fun.  But in an age of video games, cell phone chats and abbreviated texts, sometimes, thoughtful conversations with elders are missed.

This year, St. Louis Public Radio, in partnership with StoryCorps, invited students from Maplewood Richmond Heights High School to spend some time asking questions of an important person in their lives. And then to just let the other person talk. 

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.

Langston Middle School in the Wells Goodfellow neighborhood is one of two schools the district is closing at the end of 2016-2017 school year.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

When two public schools in northwest St. Louis release their students for summer break in June, they’ll be closing their doors for good.

St. Louis Public School’s Special Administrative Board unanimously voted Tuesday to close Cote Brilliante Elementary in the Ville neighborhood and Langston Middle School in the Wells Goodfellow neighborhood.

Cote Brilliante Elementary in the Ville neighborhood is one of two schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams recommended close at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The parents, students and staff of at least two St. Louis city schools may soon find out whether this will be the last year their school will be open.

St. Louis Public School’s Special Administrative Board is meeting Tuesday evening to take action on school closures.

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.

Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

One day before filing for the spring election begins, the Ferguson-Florissant school board announced Monday that it will appeal a federal judge’s ruling changing how board members in the district are elected.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel last month ordered that members of the board of the north St. Louis County district should be elected with cumulative voting, in an effort to achieve racial balance. He said that the current system of electing all board members at large “is legally unacceptable.”

La'Shieka White talks about the lawsuit involving her son, Edmund Lee, on May 4, 2016. Attorney Joshua Thompson is at left.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The African-American student who was barred from attending a St. Louis charter school after his family moved to St. Louis County is pressing his case in federal appeals court, arguing that the agency that administers the city-county transfer plan is violating his constitutional rights.

The family of Edmund Lee filed suit this year, claiming racial discrimination. He had attended Gateway Science Academy while his family lived in St. Louis, but when they moved to Maryland Heights, the school said he could no longer attend.

A 2014 job fair hosted by the Urban League brought a big turnout to the St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley campus.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Over the next two years St. Louis Community College will be undertaking a number of steps to better support students from diverse backgrounds, from a review of faculty representation to accommodations for parents.

Among the new initiatives included in this iteration of the college’s diversity plan are efforts to bring students from different campuses together, and a push for faculty to address race, class, gender and other issues in its curriculum.

University of Missouri system President Mike Middleton prepares to testify Wednesday before the Joint Committee on Education.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

With a new system president arriving in March and the diversity plan that was initiated days before his appointment in place, interim President Mike Middleton told the University of Missouri curators Friday the year since his appointment in the wake of protests at the Columbia campus had been productive.

“If you think about where we were last December and where we are today, we have much to be proud of collectively,” said Middleton. He was appointed to take charge of the four-campus system last November after former president Tim Wolfe was criticized for how he handled racial issues on the Columbia campus.

An "out of order" sign hangs from the pipes of a water fountain at Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Dec. 9, 2016 with the results of the most recent tests — St. Louis Public Schools officials are still working on replacing water pipes, fountains and sinks that tested positive for lead.

Most of the nearly 90 sources have passed most-recent testing, but three fountains and nine sinks have been abandoned. Another eight fountains failed the most recent lead tests, and officials are waiting for results on four other fountains.

Kielah Harbert is studying business and African-American studies at Washington University. She co-wrote '#Admitted,' a college application guide for first generation students. She's standing outside Brookings Hall on December 2, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis native Kielah Harbert remembers how nervous she felt when she hit submit and sent out her college applications.

“Everything was done and it was just a waiting game,” said Harbert, who will be the first in her family to graduate from college next year. “But when I sent it out I was confident that I would get in to a school that would be beneficial to my future. And so it wasn't ‘OK I have to get into this school.’ It was ‘This is what I been waiting for. This is it.’ ”

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.

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