Updated at 9:35 a.m. Monday with clarification on tuition rates, link to final bill text.

Two bills passed by Missouri lawmakers this week would have a significant impact on how and what students in the state are taught – if the legislation escapes a veto by Gov. Jay Nixon.

And that doesn’t include the financial impact the governor says will occur because of the tax-cut bill that the House and Senate passed into law over his veto earlier this month.

knittymarie / Flickr

A tumultuous school year in Missouri is about to end, and a new era in school choice could be about to begin.

Bill Raack, St. Louis Public Radio

On the 60th anniversary of the historic Brown vs. Board of Education decision Saturday, a small group rallied in front of City Hall to call on elected officials to improve St. Louis’ schools.

The students, parents, members of Metropolitan Congregations United and representatives from the American Federation of Teachers St. Louis want schools turned into “community learning centers.” 

St. Louis Public Schools teachers’ union president Mary Armstrong says she would like these “centers” to focus more on learning and less on student testing.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
(via Google Maps screen capture)

A task force set up to make recommendations for the future of the unaccredited Normandy School District says a new structure with a new name, within the current boundaries of the district, should be set up. It would report directly to the state board of education.

The Normandy School District was classified as unaccredited as of Jan. 1, 2013.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The Missouri legislative session’s finale played out this week with members in their usual swivet of last-minute activity and suspense. Watching the action in the closing days is like watching the cap dance at a Cardinals’ game — blink and you lose track of what’s going on.

Missouri Senate

A long-simmering feud between Gov. Jay Nixon and some black politicians, going back to his days as Missouri’s attorney general, flared up again in Jefferson City this week, fanned by the debate over school transfer legislation.

But not all African-American officials are taking sides against the governor. Some, especially in the state House, are urging Nixon to veto the student transfer bill, because they consider its changes in the transfer law harmful to black students.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Yinzi Liu sat in the café at Washington University’s Medical School and nervously fiddled with the sleeve on her coffee cup.   

The 28-year old will graduate tomorrow with a doctorate in developmental, regenerative and stem cell biology.  While earning her degree she spent countless hours glued to a microscope, peering into zebrafish embryos for clues that could one day lead to the early detection of human birth defects.

By most accounts she should be brimming with excitement. Instead she’s loaded with anxiety.

“The clock is ticking,” Liu said.     

Carole Basile

A task force charged with making recommendations for the future of the Normandy School District finished meeting Monday and plans to send its report to state education officials later this week.

Carole Basile, dean of the school of education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said she plans to take the discussions from the task force over the past several weeks and draw up a list of recommendations that she will submit to Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

Dale Singer/St. Louis Public Radio

When Antona Smith saw her 12-year-old daughter, Kiden, walk into Kaldi’s in Kirkwood one afternoon last month, she knew right away that something was wrong.

“She got to me, and I held her,” Smith said in a recent interview at the Kirkwood Public Library. “She was quivering, but she couldn’t tell me at first. So all I could do was hold on to her and ask her what’s wrong, did something happen to you?

“And she was shaking her head yes, something did happen, someone did something to her, but she wasn’t ready to say it yet.”

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Once a week, our team of education reporters would like to share stories that look at trends in education here and across the country. In particular, we want to focus on people, research and even gizmos that may help make kids learn better.

Snooze button

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

It felt a little like a pep rally outside of Northwest Academy of Law High School in north St. Louis as about 400 students, community leaders and members of law enforcement representatives marched down Riverview Boulevard during an event geared toward reducing violence.

Banners waved and a cheerleading crew shouted things like: “We are respectable!”

Washington University archives

Mention “ROTC” and “Washington University” to people of a certain age, and images immediately arise of Quonset huts blazing away in the dead of night, at the height of protests over the war in Vietnam.

In the wake of the 1970 fires, the ability of Washington University students to earn academic credit for ROTC courses also went up in smoke.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Even though they’ve been talking all semester, high school junior Meagan Nalepa and senior Shakiyla Hughes have finally sat at the same lunch table.

Nalepa goes to Parkway North High School, Hughes attends Normandy High School, and both have been participating in a series of video conferences on education policy between students from the two schools. For the first time, they met face to face at Normandy High School on Tuesday.

Commentary: Normandy Superintendent Urges Legislature To Act

May 3, 2014
Ty McNichols
Normandy School District

As superintendent of the Normandy School District, I urge our legislators and governor to reform the school transfer law before the end of this year’s session. Getting this done now is critical for our district and for metropolitan districts throughout the state.

Wiley Price/St. Louis American

Kenyun Robinson, 16, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School in the St. Louis Public Schools, has a desk and bookshelves at home. But he knows that many students do not, and that is why he was eager to work on a project that the Home Works organization brought to his school on Friday. 

Jacob McCleland


Principal Glenn Carter cracks open the door to an Algebra II class at South Pemiscot High School in rural Steele, Mo., where teacher Linda Crawford shuffles four reluctant students into different configurations. Students chuckle as Crawford gleefully moves her volunteers from place to place. One student, 11th grader Alli Jones, laughs and jots down a few careful notes with the rest of the class.

Last year, Jones probably wouldn’t have been here. She skipped school almost every week.

comedy_nose / Flickr

The Special Administrative Board (SAB) overseeing St. Louis Public Schools has approved a school improvement plan intended to serve as a blueprint for earning back full accreditation for the district.  

The plan developed by Superintendent Kelvin Adams divides schools into four tiers based on academic performance and lays out the five overarching goals listed below. 

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe
University of Missouri website

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe was our guest today on St. Louis on the Air. He oversees the management of the four institutions within the system: University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri-St. Louis, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Missouri University of Science and Technology, and has held the position since February 2012.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

A coalition of clergy from more than 40 metropolitan area churches is backing the school transformation plan put forth by St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams.

“We acknowledge there are components that people are unhappy about, unsure about and uncompromising about,” said the Rev. Earl Nance Jr. of Greater Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church. “We honor the concerns that people have.  At the same time, we believe that is worth a try.”

Once a week, our team of education reporters would like to share stories that look at trends in education here and across the country. In particular, we want to focus on people, research and even gizmos that may help make kids learn better.

Testy parents