Education

comedy nose | Flickr

By April 2013, the latest state data showed the number of homeless students in St. Louis Public Schools had doubled over the past three school years.

At the time, Deidre Thomas-Murray, the coordinator of students in transition, described what these numbers look like in practice.  

The Normandy Schools Collaborative has hired Diana Bourisaw, former superintendent for the St. Louis Public Schools and the Fox School district, for a six-month consulting contract to help improve the district’s lagging academic performance.

Margie Vandeven
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

(Updated at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 17, with news conference)

Margie Vandeven may be Missouri’s new commissioner for elementary and secondary education, but she’ll enter the job at the first of the year concentrating on some old problems.

One of them, she told reporters in a conference call Wednesday after her unanimous selection by the state board of education, is working for changes in Missouri’s student transfer law, to help protect the budgets of districts whose students are eligible to leave.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, spent Tuesday listening to St. Louis area students’ thoughts on race, equity and trust following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown.

It’s a day Duncan said he’ll never forget.

“The division between young people and the police is huge,” Duncan said. “The division along race in this community is huge. The division along educational opportunity being based on where you live, your zip code, is huge. The inequities are huge.”

Missouri Charter Public School Commission holds its organizational meeting on Dec. 16, 2014.  Alicia Herald (back row, right) was elected commission chair.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri's recently formed Charter Public School Commission is preparing to begin operations next year.

Mike Jones talks with education commissioner Chris Nicastro.
File photo: Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

When Chris Nicastro was chosen as Missouri’s education commissioner in 2009, her experience with school districts in north St. Louis County was cited as a big factor.

Now, as the Missouri state board of education prepares to interview five finalists to succeed Nicastro, they have a list of four white men who have been superintendents in Joplin, Branson, Springfield and Wentzville, plus a white woman who has been actively involved in north county as deputy commissioner but has never served as a superintendent.

As a deadline approaches for approval of the sale of Normandie Golf Course to the University of Missouri-St. Louis, those who are worried about the land disappearing as a place for duffers to enjoy hope the university will keep a pledge to save the course.

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

While the University of Missouri-St. Louis is experiencing a hiring freeze because of a projected lack of enrollment for the spring semester, it isn’t just sitting back and accepting the situation.

Chancellor Tom George said Thursday that about 600 students who were expected to enroll for next semester still had not signed up. The school is actively trying to figure out if they are just procrastinating or whether outside factors, such as the unsettled atmosphere in north St. Louis County following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, is prompting them to stay away.

File photo

Because of a projected drop in enrollment next semester after unrest in nearby Ferguson, the University of Missouri-St. Louis said Wednesday that it is instituting a hiring freeze, effective immediately.

In a message sent campus wide, Chancellor Tom George described “widespread anxiety about the region in general and north county in particular” that has had a consequence on area universities.

“Misplaced though it may be,” George added, “it is a perception affecting the community and UMSL.”

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Relatively speaking, not that many students take the Advanced Placement course in computer science.

Out of a little more than 2.3 million students for all subjects, fewer than 40,000 students took an exam for the course last year. While there was a slight uptick in the percentage of minority and female students, the data continue to show a jaw-dropping lack of racial and gender diversity.

Nationally, only 4 percent of all students who took the test were African American and just 20 percent were female.

St. Louis Public Schools

(Updated with interviews from all candidates.)

The Missouri state board of education has narrowed to five the field of candidates seeking to become the state’s next commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

After reviewing 12 applications in closed session Friday, the board announced Monday that it would interview:

File photo

Renewed efforts to change Missouri’s law on school transfers look pretty much the same as the bill vetoed earlier this year by Gov. Jay Nixon, but sponsors of the newly filed legislation say events in Ferguson have changed the atmosphere for the upcoming debate.

Peter Herschend
DESE website

The Missouri state board of education has a field of 14 candidates from which to choose the state’s new commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

After the board’s open meeting in Branson Thursday, where it approved added responsibility for the appointed school board that is running the Normandy Schools Collaborative, board president Peter Herschend said in a telephone interview that the applications of the 14 people who want to succeed retiring Commissioner Chris Nicastro would be reviewed in a closed session on Friday.

John Walker / Flickr

A new effort is underway to fortify the high school to college pipeline for students in St. Louis Public Schools.  

The St. Louis Public Schools Foundation, the fundraising partner for the district, wants to raise $2 million to hire eight counselors over the next three years to focus on college readiness. These counselors would serve students at all 15 of the district’s high schools. The highly regarded Metro Academic and Classical High School already has a counselor specifically focused on college readiness.   

Stephanie Zimmerman

As the appointed board that runs the new Normandy Schools Collaborative is about to take on new responsibilities for personnel decisions and improved academic achievement, it is working with outside agencies to find substitute teachers and help its littlest residents on the road to learning.

Following acceptance by the Joint Executive Governing Board of a proposal that it be in charge of evaluating, hiring and disciplining personnel, the state board of education is expected to approve the new plan at its meeting Thursday in Branson.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
(via Flickr/Washington University/with permission)

Adjunct faculty members at Washington University will begin voting next week on whether to join a union, with the ballots to be counted after the first of the year.

Susan Stark
Washington University

If medical tests found that you had risk factors that could possibly lead to Alzheimer’s disease when you are in your mid-60s, would you want to know?

What if you were a freshman in college, just starting out on your path to adulthood? Would that change your answer?

That’s one of the questions that students in a new course at Washington University are pondering as they look into what their futures may hold — cue the Beatles music — when they’re 64.

Harris-Stowe State University President Dwaun Warmack
Harris-Stowe State University

Dwaun Warmack took over as president of Harris-Stowe State University in July. A month later, Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, about 12 miles away.

St. Louis Public Radio File Photo

Missouri’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Chris Nicastro has tendered her resignation as of December 2014 and there will be an important search for a new commissioner to fill that position. The deadline for nominations and applications is Nov. 21, a date that is later than the board chair wanted.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
Washington University

Adjunct instructors at Washington University could be voting by the end of this year whether to form a union now that the university and the Service Employees International Union have agreed on terms for an election to proceed.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
(via Flickr/Washington University/with permission)

Updated at 9:16 a.m. Friday with agreement between Washington U. and union, cancellation of NLRB hearing:

For many university instructors with a Ph.D. following their name, the letters might stand for Pretty Hefty Disillusionment.

They’re the ones who, after working for years to earn a doctorate in their field, sadly find that the higher education system has no job openings for them to teach students what they know.

File photo

After complaints from teachers and others about how the initial year of the Normandy Schools Collaborative has gone so far, the state board of education wants to give more authority to the local appointed board.

Education summit-goers applaud keynote speaker John Jackson of Schott Foundation for Public Education Saturday Nov. 1, 2014 at St. John's UCC.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis community and faith-based organizations renewed a commitment to increasing equity in public schools at an education summit Saturday sponsored Metropolitan Congregations United, United Congregations of Metro East and the St. Louis chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.

A mix of educators, faith leaders and community members spent the day in discussion, worship and planning for a November 20 walk-in in support for community schools.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Carlotta Walls Lanier asked students at McCluer South-Berkeley High School in Ferguson to imagine a helicopter circling above and 1,200 troops from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division on their campus.

This is what life was like when she was the youngest of nine African-American students to integrate Little Rock Central High School in 1957 amid mobs of white segregationists. 

(Flickr/Cast a Line)

Sixty years ago, Brown v. Board of Education outlawed segregated schools. Now, race and another Brown family are in the news: 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson in August.

On Saturday, Metropolitan Congregations United for St. Louis and United Congregations of Metro East are sponsoring a daylong education symposium that will look at those events and racism.

Peter Herschend
DESE website

JEFFERSON CITY -- The Missouri state board of education voted Tuesday to put the search for a new commissioner on a slower track, then had a lengthy discussion about one of the big issues the next commissioner will face – turning around Normandy schools.

Rather than the accelerated process that board president Peter Herschend had favored, in which a successor to Chris Nicastro would have been chosen this week, the board bowed to objections from a variety of education groups that said such a fast track would have left them out of the process.

Dale

JEFFERSON CITY -- Compared with the clamor and criticism that has accompanied the debate over Common Core State Standards in recent months and years, Monday’s hearing into the topic by the state board of education was positively tame.

school buses
Flickr

A grand jury could be weeks away from deciding whether Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson should be indicted for fatally shooting Brown on Aug. 9 — an event that has sparked ongoing protests in Ferguson and the St. Louis area. Now the superintendents for seven school districts are asking St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch to consider the timing of when the decision is made public.  

St. Louis Public Schools

As Missouri’s state board of education gets ready to hold the first of three mandated hearings on new standards for public schools, members of the groups charged with writing the standards say politics is starting to take a back seat to education.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

The new Normandy Schools Collaborative has completed one quarter of its first academic year, but if the experience of one teacher is any indication, conditions in the beleaguered district have not gotten any better under the control of a state-appointed board.

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