Education

Madison Jones sits with her grandmother, elected school board member Donna Jones, before Monday night's meeting. Madison's mother, Susan Jones, is president of the board.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9:30 p.m. Monday: After the most recent meeting broke up after just five minutes, talks about when, how and whether the elected board might regain power over the St. Louis Public Schools are on hold until state officials discuss how they might proceed.

Based on discussions at the elected board’s meeting Monday night, infighting may not be ending any time soon.

Children play as festival organizers chat with the handful of college students at the Regional Chamber's new festival Saturday morning, Aug. 27, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A college outreach event organized by the St. Louis Regional Chamber got off to a slow start Saturday.

The business association held a new festival downtown to introduce college students to what St. Louis has to offer off campus. The hope is that more of them will stay in the area after they graduate if they get to know the region.

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

Even before the National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that graduate student assistants at private universities have the right to form unions, Elizabeth Eikmann and her colleagues at Saint Louis University were talking about organizing.

Now, their campaign has begun.

An "out of order" sign hangs from the pipes of a water fountain at Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated after board meeting with test results — St. Louis Public Schools has found elevated lead levels in 88 district water fountains and sinks, with almost a dozen water sources testing at 10 to 20 times the level requiring correction.

A water fountain at Fanning Middle School in the Tower Grove South neighborhood had the highest lead concentration at 280 parts per billion.

A person filling in a standardized test bubble sheet with a pencil.
Flickr | Alberto G.

The latest statewide averages for ACT scores are out, and for the first time both Missouri and Illinois have a complete picture of how well their students did.

With 100 percent of 2016 graduating seniors participating, Missouri students scored an average of 20.2 and Illinois students scored an average of 20.8 out of 36.

District website

A Ladue high school student who filed suit saying he was harassed by classmates who called him names like “faggot” will receive $75,000 from the district under a settlement unsealed Wednesday.

The settlement also calls on the district to conduct training in bullying and harassment and for parents of students subjected to such behavior to be notified as soon as possible.

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

The committee searching for a new president for the University of Missouri system is working to narrow the list of candidates from a few dozen before starting interviews.

Committee co-chair Jim Whitaker of Kansas City said Wednesday the group made up of the system’s curators plus representatives of all four campuses still hopes to have a successor to Tim Wolfe chosen by the end of the year.

Karen Levin Coburn first wrote "Letting Go: A Parent's Guide to Understanding the College Years" in 1988. It has has been rereleased four times since.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s that time of year again: kids are heading back to school … unless they aren’t and are instead breaking new ground on a college campus. While this time in a young adult’s life can be scary, it also holds significant fears on the part of the parent.

Melanie Adams
Missouri History Museum

Updated at 4:45 p.m. with comments from Adams: Melanie Adams, one of the three original members of the Special Administrative Board that has run the St. Louis Public Schools since 2007, is leaving her job at the Missouri History Museum and her spot on the SAB.

Her successor on the board will be named by Mayor Francis Slay; his spokeswoman, Maggie Crane, said the search process is underway and will be completed as soon as possible.

Ferguson-Florissant parent Redditt Hudson, attorney Dale Ho, and past school candidate Willis Johnson at a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the Ferguson-Florissant schools on December 18.
Diane Balogh | ACLU of Missouri

Updated Aug. 22 with Sippel's ruling. — A federal judge has ruled that at-large elections for seats on the board for the Ferguson-Florissant School District violate the rights of African-American voters in the district.

Flickr

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, says a new government study shows changes are needed in the way federal agencies track and report cases of sexual assault.

The report by the Government Accountability Office, released last week, found that four separate federal agencies – the departments of Education, Defense, Justice and Health and Human Services – keep track of data on sexual violence.

Those departments have at least 10 programs to collect the information, and they use 23 different terms to describe sexual violence, the GAO found.

When you think back on learning to write cursive, do you remember it fondly? Or do you recall smudged letters that didn’t look at all like the flawless classroom model, and how you never could get to stay within those pesky dotted lines?

Or maybe you never even learned it at all.

Fans of cursive think the time-honored means of expression does more than just result in pretty writing. And they want to help make sure children don’t miss out on its benefits.

Biology teacher LaJuana Stidmon examins at microscope she received as a gift at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy in St. Louis earlier this month on Aug. 11, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Comparatively low pay. Long hours. High — and often changing — expectations. A sometimes reluctant audience. Two months of vacation isn’t a big enough perk to lure anyone into the teaching profession for long. So what inspires St. Louis teachers to return each year?

With most St. Louis area schools now back in session, St. Louis Public Radio asked local teachers what keeps them coming back, what are their biggest challenges and what advice they have for parents.

Brittany Packnett discussed education, Teach for America, racial equity, Black Lives Matter and more on "St. Louis on the Air" on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this summer, Brittany Packnett announced she would be leaving her role as the Executive Director of Teach for America-St. Louis and would become TFA’s new vice president of National Community Alliances. That role starts October 1.

Before she starts the new position, Packnett joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to look back on her work with TFA in St. Louis, her participation on the Ferguson Commission and President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21th Century Policing and her social activism. 

The downtown headquarters building for the St. Louis Public Schools
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 8:50 p.m. Aug. 16, with results of an attempted meeting - A meeting to discuss moving the St. Louis Public Schools back under the control of an elected board was adjourned just five minutes after it started Tuesday evening because one member of the elected board who was not supposed to be there refused to leave.

The dispute could scuttle any effort to have the elected board replace the appointed Special Administrative Board that has run the district since 2007.

Laura Polak and her niece Ruby take part in Lap Time at St. Louis County Library's Grant's View branch.
Provided | St. Louis County Library

Whether mom reads “Goodnight Moon” before bedtime every night for a month, or grandpa helps the kids check out seven new books each week, St. Louis County Library wants to make sure babies and toddlers are getting exposed to lots of different words.

To encourage parents to start reading to children early and often, the library launched a program Monday called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.

Janaya Heard, 9, and Armani Williams, 15, pose for a portrait inside their lemonade stand Aug. 13, 2016. Janaya likes the regular lemonade; Armani suggested trying the watermelon lemonade.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Five girls from the JeffVanderLou neighborhood of north St. Louis are headed back to school this year with a jump-start on thinking critically.

They’ve spent the past few weeks developing a business plan for a lemonade stand and selling the drink outside St. Louis Metro Market’s JeffVanderLou stop.

LeDiva Pierce with her daughters Alfreida (left) and Unique. Pierce is one of two charter school parents seeking to intervene as plaintiffs in St. Louis Public School's dispute with the state over funding.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Aug. 10 with appeal — Two St. Louis charter school parents are renewing their effort to have a say in a lawsuit that could change the way public schools are funded in the city.

LeDiva Pierce and Ken Ross Jr. filed an appeal Wednesday to join a suit against the state of Missouri by St. Louis Public Schools.

Karen Apricot | Flickr

Retired teachers in Missouri are learning a hard but simple math lesson: Longer life spans plus smaller investment returns equal no cost-of-living raise in their pensions for next year.

In dollars-and-cents terms, that means that the board of the state’s Public School Retirement System has voted that if inflation falls below 2 percent for 2016, which appears all but certain, school retirees will get no raise in their pensions.

Professors Stefan Bradley (L) and Kimberly Norwood (M) joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh in studio today. Marcia Chatelain (R), is pictured here in a file photo from 2015, and joined the show by phone.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The police shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, which happened two years ago today, sparked a plethora of conversations about race, policing, protest, and social justice in the United States. One of the places these conversations have taken place is in institutions of higher education.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

An audit of the Missouri Department of Higher Education takes issue with a now-defunct loan program it still oversees.

The Advantage Missouri program paid out a total of $8 million in student loans from 1998 to 2005. The audit finds that $5.2 million of those $8 million have still not been repaid.

A person filling in a standardized test bubble sheet with a pencil.
Flickr | Alberto G.

Schools seem to start classes earlier each year, but the results of student tests — and the annual district report cards that depend on them — will be later once again.

The reason: As Missouri learning standards keep changing, education officials have to take more time to figure out what the test scores mean.

UMSL grad students Aaron Willis, right, and Mario Charles help students in the ULEAD program.
August Jennewein | UMSL

In the face of tragic news about violent crime and clashes with police, students may feel they won’t get a fair shake from those who are in charge.

A new course put together by graduate students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis known as ULEAD was designed to help explain what is going on and how to handle it.  

ULEAD stands for Urban Legal Education and Academic Development. In plainer language, it wants students in middle school and high school to have a “working knowledge of the legal and civic nuances” of the communities where they live.

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

Two weeks before the new school year, St. Louis Public School teachers Ninfa Matiase, LaJuana Stidmon and Jeremy Resmann cut red agar into squares before dropping them into vinegar. It’s an experiment to test how quickly the cubes absorb the vinegar — one of several lesson plans the teachers have learned over the past two weeks during training provided by the National Math and Science Initiative.

Stidmon, a science teacher at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy, says the training has given her a framework to focus her AP biology class.

The director of Missouri’s Center for Education Safety wants the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to require all schools to have plans for responding to active shooters and other emergencies.   

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

After successful organizing campaigns with part-time faculty at Washington University, Saint Louis University and St. Louis Community College, a union is now turning its attention to the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

And a top UMSL official wants to make sure that teachers on campus know what is at stake.

Jacob and Jahede Parker picked out almost identical gray camo coats at the Back-to-School Store. Jacob's had a bright yellow lining, while Jahede's lining was white.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Eight-year-old Jahede Parker has brand new red sneakers and a gray camo coat to start his new school year at Patrick Henry Downtown Academy in St. Louis.

His twin brother Jacob picked out an almost identical coat Sunday, when the two joined more than a thousand other local elementary kids shopping at the free back-to-school fair sponsored by the St. Louis chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women.

Danielle Washington of the Wyman Center walks Ozzie Furlow through financial aid literacy training at St. Louis Graduates' High School to College Center. Furlow plans to enroll as a freshman at Arkansas Baptist in August 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

When Ozzie Furlow graduated from Hazelwood East High School in June, he planned to attend Missouri Western State University in the fall.

But there was a problem.

“They wanted me to be part time, and I have nobody to stay (with) down there,” Furlow said.

University of Missouri-Columbia

If a candidate for the presidency of the University of Missouri asks interviewers about their priorities for the system and the themes that are part of the school’s vision, what should the answers be?

That was the topic of a meeting of the university’s Board of Curators in Kansas City on Friday. For anyone who has been following the up-and-down fortunes of the university in recent months, the list they came up with will look familiar:

Family, friends and colleagues gathered outside Dunbar Elementary School to remember Jacara Sproaps.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Yellow and green balloons floated above a crowd gathered outside Dunbar Elementary School Wednesday as family, friends and colleagues clutched candles, held hands and remembered Jacara Sproaps.

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