Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

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.

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.

Students from Jefferson Elementary School cheer for the Normandy school board Thursday night, Jan. 28, 2016
File photo | Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s standardized test time for third-graders through eighth-graders in Missouri’s public schools.

For the first time in three years, Missouri’s standardized MAP tests, which must be completed by May 26, are in the same format and based on the same standards as the year before. The tests will change again next year to match state standards approved by legislators in 2016

A hand distributing cash with a dialogue box.
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Four school districts in Madison County are on Illinois State Board of Education’s financial watch list for having low cash reserves and a high debt ratio.

The Alton, Bethalto, Edwardsville and Triad  districts earned the state’s lowest financial ranking based on their spending in fiscal year 2016.

Ryan Delaney / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Community College will offer nearly 40 percent of its full-time workforce an early retirement package due to fewer students on its campuses and fewer dollars coming from the Missouri Capitol.

The four-campus network’s Board of Curators approved the plan Thursday night, which college leadership said will allow the school to offer programs and services that boost enrollment and ultimately revenue.

via Flickr | frankjuarez

Parents in the Hazelwood School District who were concerned that administrators are being too well compensated while other areas of the school system get cut successfully prompted a state audit of the district’s finances.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway announced the audit Tuesday, but said it’s too early to say what her office is looking for.

Andy Sminds / Flickr

Missouri education officials decided Tuesday to no longer aim for its public schools to be ranked among the nation’s 10 best by 2020.

The Missouri State Board of Education’s course correction comes amid changing federal education policies.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

Many high-achieving and low-income high school students bound for college get an assist from the state of Missouri in the form of modest scholarships.

The trouble is that budget constraints have left programs that help both groups of students underfunded and unable to keep up with rising tuition. That’s bad news for high school seniors who’ll be choosing where to go to school in the coming weeks.

Mallinckrodt Academy for Gifted Instruction on Hampton Ave. in south St. Louis fished tranistioning into a gifted elementary in the 2015-2016 school year.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

As St. Louis Public Schools prepares to add a first grade gifted classroom in north St. Louis in the fall, the overwhelming majority of students eligible for gifted instruction in the district continue to be white.

According to a program update presented to the district’s state-appointed board in March, 81 white students tested this school year qualify compared to 29 black students, 9 Hispanic students and 24 Asian students.

St. Louis Public Schools elected board president Susan Jones speaks during a meeting on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of St. Louis’ elected school board waited until after this month’s election to start clamoring to resume talks over regaining control of the city’s public schools. They’ll have to wait a bit longer, though, the state says.

Elected board President Susan Jones said the election of two new members is a proof enough that its reputation of dysfunction and mismanagement, which led to losing control a decade ago, is a thing of the past.

Cedric Deshay and Jeavon Gill walk into the mayor's office to receive their high school diplomas on April 13, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Just four months after the launch of a new, 24-hour high school for students in danger of dropping out, two young men from St. Louis received their diplomas Thursday.

Updated 11:55 a.m. April 14 with comments from MassResistance — Parents and students say an organization identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center is involving itself in a school district in west St. Louis County.

MassResistance Missouri opposes the Parkway School Districts’ sex-education curriculum, which includes lessons about contraception, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Chelsea Clinton speaks to students and parents at Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School in Creve Coeur Friday, April 7, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Long before Chelsea Clinton lived in the White House, she wrote then-President Ronald Reagan a letter, imploring him to not visit a Nazi cemetery on an upcoming visit to Germany.

The daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday shared the letter, which was adorned with a rainbow sticker, with students at Mirowitz Jewish Community School in Creve Coeur.

Flickr | alkruse24

Hours after measures to increase the sales tax for schools failed in both Madison and St. Clair counties, two school districts from each county sued the state.

Bethalto, Cahokia, Grant and Wood River-Hartford schools joined more than a dozen other southern Illinois districts in the suit. They want the state to provide enough funding so districts can meet the state's new learning standards.

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

Updated April 4 with plan officially submitted —

Illinois education officials met the federal government’s first deadline for submitting its plan to measure how well schools are educating students.

The Illinois State Board of Education sent its Every Student Succeeds Act state plan to the U.S. Department of Education on Monday. The plan was approved by its governing board last month.

East St. Louis students spend about a month without school last fall due to a teacher strike. In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo students spend their free day outside the school district office.
File photo | Wiley Price | St. Louis American

The East St. Louis School District is one of 10 Illinois schools that will help design a learning plan based not on how much time students spend listening to their teacher, but rather how many skills they’ve mastered.

It’s a new approach to education called competency-based learning, meant to transition away from credit hours that traditionally have tracked a student’s progress.

Mizzou's Columns
File Photo| Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Officials in University of Missouri System are considering layoffs as it makes adjustments in the face of a major loss in state funding and shrinking enrollment, system President Mun Choi said Monday.

In Choi’s open letter, which starts the process of making deep budget cuts to the state’s largest provider of higher education, he said the four campuses will need to trim 8 percent to 12 percent out of their budgets. The cuts will target specific programs and not be across-the-board, he said.

Clockwise from left: Incumbents Rob Chabot and Donna Thurman, along with first-time candidates Jessica Ponder, Donna Dameron and Roger Hines, are running for the Ferguson-Florissant school board on April 4, 2017.
Ferguson-Florissant School District

The Ferguson-Florissant school board election Tuesday will use a voting system a federal judge ruled unconstitutional last year.

The judge ruled that method unfair to African-Americans and ordered the district to implement cumulative voting, which allows for as many votes to be cast as there are seats up for election. Those votes may all be cast for the same candidate or may be spread around as a voter sees fit.

But because the district appealed, this year’s election is still operating under the old, at-large system. That means, with five candidates running for three open board seats, residents will cast one vote for each of the three candidates they like.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

School districts across the St. Louis area are asking voters Tuesday to consider various funding measures.

Two Metro East counties are hoping to join more than 40 others in Illinois that have started using sales tax increases to bolster school funding in the face of less state support due to a nearly two-year budget crisis.

And in St. Louis County, there are a half-dozen funding measures. Kirkwood would raise property taxes, while the rest are bonding measures, all of which need to pass with about 57 percent of the vote. The largest bonding measure, in the Rockwood district, seeks to spend $95.5 million on a new elementary school in Eureka and expand other buildings.

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.

Michael Smith, an adjunct English professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis speaks at a small union rally on Thursday, March 23, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Some teachers at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who are trying to form a union sued the state’s university system Thursday, alleging that the rules the board of curators set forth for organizing are too restrictive.

They contend there are gender and minority wage gaps, and that the best way to close them is to unionize. The effort started last summer on the heels of successful union votes at other colleges in the region.

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.

Lincoln School, the county's first public school for African Americansthe county's first public school for African Americans, prior to the construction of its new building in 1911 is one of many photos archived in Madison Historical.
Provided | Madison Historical and the Madison County Historical Society

Madison County has a new online archive that documents local history through century-old photographs, articles and recorded interviews.

The Madison Historical website produced by Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville invites exploration of the Metro East county’s history, sorting content by era (19th, 20th, or 21st century), theme (industry, education, government) and community.

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.

Preclarus Mastery Academy, located inside Third Baptist Church, has 200 students enrolled in the 2016-2017 school year.
File photo | Brit Hanson | St. Louis Public Radio

A small charter school in St. Louis’ Grand Center district will stay open next year after all.  

The University of Missouri-St. Louis has overruled its charter school office and agreed to continue sponsoring Preclarus Mastery Academy.

University of Missouri President Mun Choi, shown here in November 2016, detailed cuts across the UM System campuses.
File photo | 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.

St. Louis Public Schools curriculum instructor Sylvester McClain talks to Workforce High School student Cedric Deshay on Thursday, March 2, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Cedric Deshay has seen a lot in his 17 years. His dad died when he was a baby, followed by his mom when he was 13. Gun violence plagues his northeast St. Louis neighborhood; a recent killing was three houses down.

"I was falling behind in classes, falling asleep in class and stuff because of what was going on at home,” he explained. It was to the point that when his senior year began in August, Cedric was at risk of dropping out.

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