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Education

Jeremy Meuser, 13, refects during the school walkout at Maplewood Richmond Heights.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Students in St. Louis — and around the country — walked out of school Wednesday morning as part of a national call for improved school safety and tighter gun-control measures.

Richard Gaines, center, of the Special Administrative Board, speaks during  a joint meeting with the St. Louis Elected School Board Tuesday, March 13, 2018.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

The first joint meeting between St. Louis’ two school boards could be seen as the starting gun many in the community have wanted to hear for a decade. For others, it’s a reminder of a troubled past for the school system. But a return of St. Louis Public Schools to elected control likely won’t be a sprint, but rather a slow walk to June 2019.

The seven-member Board of Education flanked a three-person Special Administrative Board, or SAB, during a special meeting Tuesday night at SLPS’s headquarters to begin the process of transitioning back to democratic control.

The students will participate in after-school, mentor and summer programs to help them learn skills that could help them in and outside of school, such as conflict management.
Stephanie Zimmerman

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health is one of ten agencies in the U.S. to receive a large federal grant to address trauma among youth in low-income areas.

The department will receive about $425,000 a year for four years to operate Project RESTORE, or Reconciliation and Empowerment to Support Tolerance and Race Equity, in partnership with county police, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and three north County school districts: Hazelwood, University City and Normandy.

Candidates for the Parkway School Board listen to a question during a candidate forum Monday, March 12, 2018, at Parkway Central Middle School.
File Photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Parkway School District parents filled a middle school cafeteria for a school board candidate forum Monday night that usually attracts only enough parents to fill a single classroom.

Interest in the race spiked in January, when social media posts by one of the candidates were circulated among parent groups. Several parents said the views expressed on Twitter by Jeanie Ames are racist and out of line with the mission of the west St. Louis County district.

U.S. Army veterans (from left) Emily Staden, Jim Craig and Angie Peacock discussed their experiences and observations of trends in the military, at home and in higher education.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Women make up 14 percent of the U.S. military as well as a full quarter of the veterans who are pursuing a college education upon returning home from service. In the St. Louis area alone, evidence of their significant presence isn’t hard to come by.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with three local Army veterans about that growing force and about how St. Louis’ student veterans are collaborating as they plan for this year’s Student Veterans Week festivities set to begin March 17.

Donye' Winston, 12, reacts to something her classmate Mahlia Pryor, 11, says during their gifted learning class on March 7, 2018, at Normandy's Washington Elementary School.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Discontinued during the turmoil of unaccreditation and reincorporation, a gifted learning program has returned to Normandy’s elementary schools.

At Washington Elementary, about a dozen students who tested two grade levels higher on an intelligence aptitude test are in the program. The students, ranging from third to sixth grade, gather twice a week to work on special projects in what was once an unused classroom.

Clayton High School students leave class during a walkout and press conference to call for improved school security on Feb. 23, 2018, a week after 17 people were killed in a shooting at a Florida high school.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Students across the St. Louis region are planning school walkouts this week as part of a national call for improved school safety and tighter gun-control measures.

Students at more than a dozen schools in the area are planning events Wednesday morning in response to the mass school shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14. That’s left school officials to figure out the best way to respond: should they support student involvement and civic engagement, or should they enforce school rules?

McCormack Lake in the Mark Twain National Forest. Nearly 100 Missouri school districts contain parts of the federal land but can't collect property taxes on it.
doc jayhawk | Flickr

Superintendent Tim Hager’s district in central Missouri is surrounded by federal forestland in every direction.

School buses shuttle some of the 366 students in the Iron County C-4 School District between their homes dotted throughout the national forestland and the school campus in the small town of Viburnum.

The drive on tough gravel roads beats the buses up, Hager said, but he hasn’t been receiving the big checks from the U.S. Forest Service he once got, so he’s putting off buying a new bus.

A parent listens during an information session on using 529 savings plans for private K-12 education at St. Pius X High School in Festus Tuesday, march 6, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Parents with children in private schools are filling gymnasiums and cafeterias to learn how they can take advantage of a new tax break to save money on tuition.

Traditionally, so-called 529 plans were a way for parents to stash money away to pay for their child’s college education, without having to pay taxes on the gains. The federal tax overhaul plan enacted late last year changed rules around 529 plans so they can also be used to pay for private K-12 school tuition, up to $10,000 a year.

Samuel Williams helps his two children onto the Jefferson Elementary School morning shuttle bus Friday, March 2, 2018. Williams said since it started in January, the shuttle provides safety and a routine for getting to school.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Most students at Jefferson Elementary live within a mile of the school, meaning they’re within walking distance under St. Louis Public Schools’ transportation policy.

Yet Jefferson’s principal, Kristen Taylor, said kids in the near north side Carr Square neighborhood were often late or didn’t show up at all. Attendance for the school’s roughly 225 students at the end of the first semester was nearly 20 percent below the state’s desired 90-percent level for schools.

Niah Ester and Anjali Adhikari pose for a portrait at the annual Educators for Social Justice conference.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Anjali Adhikari and Niah Ester teamed up for a class project last summer, they had one goal – to teach educators at Northeast Middle School all about microaggressions.

The seventh graders never imagined their work would make it from their Creve Coeur school into classrooms across the St. Louis region. But since then, they’ve created and led training sessions for dozens of teachers, counselors and school administrators.

A Parkway Central High School student signs a petition calling for efforts to make schools safer during an after-school press conference Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

School counselors in Missouri already have high student caseloads and added duties, even as teachers, students and parents here and around the country call for more mental health services in schools to prevent future mass shootings.

Missouri, and most other states, have a shortage of school guidance counselors — and limited money to hire more.

Representatives on behalf of both public universities and community colleges spoke against a proposed Senate bill Tuesday afternoon that would limit fee increases at public universities.

While public universities in Missouri currently face a cap with tuition costs, legislation allows the same universities to raise fees to their discretion. A Senate bill proposed Tuesday afternoon to the education committee would place the same cap on fees, prohibiting them from being higher than the inflation rate.


Sasha Walchli, an English language teacher at Parkway's Green Trails Elementary, works with third-graders on learning continents. Walchi has 43 students at the school, twice as many as when she started 10 years ago.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Radi and Hadi Hamdan’s English is getting better, slowly. Sitting in the living room of their Florissant home on a recent evening, they struggled to get through more than introducing themselves before switching back to Arabic.

The 12-year-old twins moved to the northern St. Louis suburb from the West Bank last summer, finally reuniting with their father, who has lived in the United States for two decades.

The twins are seventh-graders in Hazelwood School District’s West Middle School. Radi likes art class. Hadi’s favorite subject is math. They also need intense English-language instruction in order to follow other courses.

Washington University history professor Peter Kastor uses the musical "Hamilton" as a jumping-off point to teach about the Founding Fathers.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s no secret that there’s a renewed interest in the role Alexander Hamilton played in founding the United States.

Portrayed in the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” the nation’s first treasury secretary and many of the Founding Fathers are brought to life by the show’s creator and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In advance of the musical’s sold-out run in April at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh talked with Peter Kastor, history professor at Washington University, about the historical accuracy of “Hamilton.”

Ty'Chila Thomas answers trivia questions during a L.O.V.E Project session at Lafayette High School in Wildwood. Feb. 14, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For three years Shante Duncan has facilitated The L.O.V.E. Project with freshman girls at Lafayette High School in Wildwood. She talks to the girls about school and anything else they want to share about their personal lives.

This month, Duncan centered the session around important African-American females, from Ida B. Wells to Henrietta Lacks, a black woman whose cervical cancer cells advanced medical research.

SLPS science teachers Ninfa Matiase, LaJuana Stidmon and Jeremy Resmann practice an experiment Aug. 3, 2016 during training provided by the National Math and Science Initiative.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Within five years of being in a St. Louis Public Schools classroom, nearly half of teachers leave the district.

Now SLPS is considering adopting the St. Louis Teacher Residency Program in an effort to retain new teachers. Recruits would spend a full school year embedded in a classroom shadowing an experienced teacher while also earning their teaching certificate.

Ooh St. Lou Studios

Through a recent partnership between STL Youth Jobs and the Ferguson Forward Initiative, young people in Ferguson and Dellwood now have the opportunity to get employment training and ultimately jobs.

Zharria Henry, a student at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley, found a job at the Missouri Veterans Home through the program.

Henry credits STL Youth Jobs for helping her prepare for the job and then landing it. At the veterans home, she works as an administrative assistant and transports patients. She said the job helps pay for her education and allows her to help her mother out financially.

Shannan Muskopf | flickr

A growing list of Missouri school leaders are organizing to push for changes to the way their students are tested, saying the current model is in constant flux and doesn’t provide useful feedback on student learning.

The end-of-year exams that have become emblematic to public education are an “archaic and broken process,” said Rockwood School District Superintendent Eric Knost, an outspoken critic of standardized testing.

Karen Anderson (left) and Kathryn Banks (right) address inequities in quality of education, rate of school suspensions and more that St. Louis youth face.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

The Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice advocacy program continues to bring awareness to critical issues in the region – this time for injustices disadvantaged youth in St. Louis are facing. Their upcoming program Juvenile Injustice: Kids in Crisis from School to Courts will address inequities in quality of education, rate of school suspensions and more.

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