Education

Illinois Holds College Financial Aid Workshops

Feb 2, 2014
Illinois Student Assistance Commission

Illinois governor Pat Quinn has announced free workshops across the state for college students and their parents to get advice on acquiring financial aid. The workshops will be conducted throughout February, which is Financial Aid Awareness Month.

Experts with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission will help families understand and complete the commonly-used FAFSA, or Free Application for Student Aid.

UMSL website

Despite financial concerns that threatened to derail its approval, a $17 million building for the optometry program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis won passage Friday, but not without reservations over how it will be paid for.

From the report

 A report from a coalition of church groups in St. Louis says a plan commissioned by the Missouri state board of education to help struggling school districts could result in “an educational ghetto.”

Instead of the plan presented earlier this month by the outside consultant CEE-Trust, a group known as Metropolitan Congregations United for St. Louis wants to give more local control to school districts. It also wants to focus on school culture, curriculum and staffing and provide so-called wrap-around services for students who do not get proper support at home.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

A study released Thursday by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry states that Missouri is "falling behind" when it comes to providing digital learning for K-12 students. 

The chamber commissioned the study, which was conducted by the Colorado-based Evergreen Education Group.  Chamber President and CEO Dan Mehan says although online learning options are available in the Show-Me State, most require tuition, while those that don’t are limited geographically.

Updated at 10:12 p.m. with investigator hired for Courey case:

Tuition for resident undergraduate students at the four campuses of the University of Missouri will remain flat for the coming school year after a unanimous vote by the Board of Curators Wednesday.

Meeting in Columbia, the curators went along unanimously with a recommendation by university President Tim Wolfe. He in turn was agreeing with a wish expressed by Gov. Jay Nixon last week in his State of the State address.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Gov. Jay Nixon came to Fort Zumwalt North High School Wednesday on his “Good Schools, Good Jobs” tour, and based on the questions he was asked in a class he visited, many of the students there could end up with jobs in journalism.

In the coming weeks the future of the Normandy School District and that of every other district in the state will determined by the elected leadership in Jefferson City.  Normandy, currently unaccredited, will run out of money at some point between April and the end of the school year.  This topic covers so many difficult areas to not only talk about but also find consensus: public education, race, poverty and power.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

Updated 7:41 a.m., Tues. Jan. 28, with details of contract vote.

The Normandy School District, which faces the possibility of being dissolved this spring, is paying a lobbyist $10,000 a month to help persuade lawmakers in Jefferson City to provide enough money to help the district survive until the end of the school year.

UM website

The president of the University of Missouri says he will go along with Gov. Jay Nixon’s request and recommend that tuition for the system’s four campuses not go up next year.

Tim Wolfe, who visited with junior and senior high school students in the Bayless School District in south St. Louis County Friday morning, said that the additional revenue proposed by Nixon in his State of the State address earlier this week should provide the four-campus system with the money it needs without raising tuition.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

Normandy School District.

Now is the time to change how these three words take on meaning in our collective awareness. As one of the instructional coaches brought in by the district’s new leaders last summer, I offer a couple of images to help outsiders — especially our state legislators and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — see us for real.

12 Years A Slave

Ferguson-Florissant website

Updated 3:30 p.m., Fri., Jan. 24 with news from press conference called by Grade A 4 Change.

Two of three incumbents on the Ferguson-Florissant school board who voted to put Superintendent Art McCoy on paid leave are running for re-election in April, but they will be facing challengers hand-picked because of their support for McCoy.

comedy_nose / Flickr

For CEE-Trust, a consultant hired by Missouri education officials to propose ways to reverse what it calls “disastrous” student performance in Kansas City, nothing less than sweeping change is required.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon)

Updated at 10:10 a.m. Jan. 23 to reflect the correct source of one of the three state intervention proposals.

Members of the Normandy school board are skeptical that any of the proposed new plans for state intervention in academically troubled districts will make a difference in their schools.

JEFFERSON CITY -- Missouri has already adopted and begun to implement the Common Core State Standards,  but a group of diehard opponents urged the state board of education Tuesday to follow what they said is the lead of other states and reconsider.

(via Flickr/frankjuarez)

JEFFERSON CITY -- After hearing a one-hour presentation by CEE-Trust of its proposal on how to help struggling schools in Kansas City -- and possibly throughout Missouri -- members of the state board of education had an hour's worth of questions on their own.

Now, the process begins to combine the CEE-Trust report with other recommendations and suggestions from the public to determine the best way to proceed. 

comedy nose | Flickr

Updated at 1:34 p.m., Mon., Jan. 13 with news of  unexpectedly large turnout at Jefferson City meeting.

To reverse student performance in Kansas City that it calls  “disastrous,” a consultant hired by Missouri education officials is proposing a makeover that would direct more money to individual schools, recruit outside nonprofit groups to run them and address non-academic needs such as health care, nutrition and even laundry services to prepare students better to learn.

(via Flickr/KB35)

Even as lawmakers and others got ready to craft possible changes to the transfer law, EducationPlus released guidelines for the next round of student transfers beginning this coming August.

The first round was a rushed affair. The Missouri Supreme Court did not uphold the transfer law until June 11, though the suit involved had been winding its way through the courts for several years and had already been upheld by the high court once.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

As planning begins for school transfers in the St. Louis area in the academic year that starts in August, and Missouri lawmakers return to Jefferson City for the new legislative session, one issue will loom large for both groups:

What changes, if any, will come to the transfer law that has dominated so many headlines, discussions and school board meetings in recent months?

Illinois State Board of Education website

The state's takeover of the district aims to improve student achievement, finances and governance, but progress will be hard without more money from Springfield.

Christopher Koch knows what schools in East St. Louis need to succeed, and he has a pretty clear idea how to get the job done. He just hopes that the state of Illinois will provide the resources that the district needs.

Harriet Padberg
Courtesy of the Society of the Sacred Heart

Sister Harriet Ann Padberg, a gifted musician and composer, who spent the last 40 years of her long life advocating music as a therapeutic way of improving the lives of people with physical and mental disabilities, found joy listening to Mozart’s music in her last hour.    

The lifelong St. Louisan died Jan. 2 of complications after a fall and hip break. She was 91.

“We were playing Mozart, she loved Mozart, it was very peaceful,” her sister Peggy Padberg McGarry, of Houston, said.

Provided by Susan Uchitelle

I believe that it is vitally important for students to use critical thinking in all of their education courses as it is the essence to successful retention of knowledge since one should systematically work through any problem or challenge presented.

Remko van Dokkum | Flickr

The path to a high school equivalency certificate in Missouri is about to be rewired.

Starting in January the GED exam, which has been used in the state since the 1940s, will be replaced.  It’s a move driven by digital change and an age old consideration -- cost.

Keyboards replace pencils

children studying
laura00 | sxc.hu

Students are counting the days until winter break, but there's no break in sight in the controversies over school quality and student transfers.

In recent days, education reporters Tim Lloyd and Dale Singer took the lead in covering developments for the newly combined news operations of St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon. Their work was a good example of how we can serve you better together.

Ferguson-Florissant website

The Ferguson-Florissant school board has issued a list of charges to Superintendent Art McCoy, now on paid administrative leave, that could lead to his being fired for cause according to the terms of his contract.

Details of the charges were not released. The next step is for the board to schedule a hearing on the charges, which may or may not be open to the public, depending on whether McCoy and board members can reach mutual agreement on that point. No date for the hearing has been set.

GCAA website

Lynne Glickert, who was ousted as principal of Grand Center Arts Academy, then brought back as interim principal after a storm of parental and student protest, has been named to a newly created leadership position at the school.

(Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio)

It may be fair to call legislation that the St. Louis County Council approved Tuesday the “School Picnic Protection Act.” 

OK, that may be a bit of an oversimplification. But proponents of the move to exempt some school events from county permits say the measure is just common sense.

“They’re not big fundraisers. These aren’t big auctions and things,” said Councilman Pat Dolan, D-Richmond Heights. “They’re bake sales and car washes and the like. Basically it hadn’t been enforced for a long time. And all of a sudden it was starting to be enforced."

Regional Chamber

In an effort to attract employers and investors, the St. Louis Regional Chamber wants to add 75,000 college graduates by the year 2025, pushing the area into the top 10 nationwide in college attainment.

The first time Janet Martinez started college, she was right out of high school in Oklahoma. By her own admission, she was not quite ready for the responsibility involved: too many decisions, too much social life.

“It was all too much for me,” she says. She left after one semester.

(via Flickr/evmaiden)

Updated 1:56 p.m.

Kirkwood High School has posted a statement on their website regarding today's events. It reads:

Dr. Havener's Message About Tuesday's Event

KHS Parents/Guardians 

DESE website

After four hearings in Normandy and Riverview Gardens, plus suggestions and plans and proposals from education groups and lawmakers from throughout Missouri, it’s time for state education officials to try to come up with a plan to help struggling school districts.

And Chris Nicastro, the state’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, wants to make sure that whatever plan her department comes up with, that is the focus: helping underachieving students and schools succeed.

DESE website

Missouri’s commissioner of education has been buffeted by two controversies that have led to calls for her resignation but also expressions of support from her bosses on the state board of education.

To explain the controversy swirling around Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s embattled commissioner of elementary and secondary education, state school board member Mike Jones invokes the words of a legendary Texan, Jim Hightower:

The only things you find in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadillos.

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