Education

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

Updated at 3:50 p.m. May 17 with comment from state board members

A task force looking into better ways to accredit Missouri school districts says the state should judge its schools like it judges its teachers — with a number of different measurements that don’t rely so heavily on student test scores.

In a report presented to the Missouri state board of education at its meeting in Jefferson City on Tuesday, the task force concluded that Missouri should retain accreditation of districts but change the criteria it uses to determine whether schools are accredited, provisionally accredited or unaccredited. The task force is made up of superintendents and others.

University of Missouri-Columbia

At a time when employees at two of its campuses face layoffs because of a financial crunch, curators of the University of Missouri spent $10,700 this week to meet at a Franklin County conference center rather than on university property.

The board held what it called a “development session” Wednesday at the Cedar Creek conference center in New Haven. No votes were taken at the meeting, whose agenda said it was held to discuss “board best practices.”

Tax credits | Flickr

Two days before St. Louis voters would decide the fate of a small sales tax increase to pay for school desegregation in 1999, the woman who started the effort to get  better schools for black students asked city voters to take a “leap of faith” and back the tax.

“Without a source for funding,” Minnie Liddell wrote in a letter to the Post-Dispatch with her attorney, William Douthit, “the agreement becomes an empty set of promises, unrealized goals and positive educational outcomes that might have been.”

The tax hike, two-thirds of a penny, won big. Now it’s back in the public eye, in a dispute over who should benefit from its proceeds.

clio1789 | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1Wk4Nen

Every year, thousands of students graduate from colleges and universities in the St. Louis region. So why are so many looking to take their talent elsewhere?

Local firm Stakeholder Insights conducted a study in collaboration with the St. Louis Regional Chamber to answer this question. Lisa Richter, Managing Principal of Stakeholder Insights, said that the study showed the main concerns graduates had when deciding to stay in the area were availability of jobs in their field, career growth opportunities, wages and benefits, a result that is no surprise.

Parkway North sophomore Israel Lewis puts a bracelet on Carla Gronsborg's wrist as her son Henry shows her his bracelet on Sat. May, 7, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A student organization launched after the unrest in Ferguson spent their Saturday encouraging baseball fans to be a positive force in St. Louis.

Outside Busch Stadium before the Cardinals game students with Gateway2Change started conversations with baseball fans by handing out bracelets made of seeds.

Riverview Gardens students entertain before Thursday night's state hearing, May 5, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

When he opened Thursday night’s state hearing on the status of the unaccredited Riverview Gardens schools, assistant education commissioner Chris Neale spelled out the two big decisions the district faces.

First, the state school board will decide, as early as next month, whether the district’s progress merits an upgrade to provisional accreditation.

Ferguson-Florissant schools superintendent Joseph Davis watches as Gov. Jay Nixon vetoes a measure that would have changed the state's school funding formula on May 4, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 12:27 p.m. May 5 with House veto override - The same day that Gov. Jay Nixon, D-Mo. vetoed a measure that would have changed the way school funding is calculated, the Missouri Senate voted to override that move. One day later, the House overrode the veto as well. The measure now becomes law.

According to the governor, "The cheapening of the foundation formula would break a promise that we have made to our local schools and students that they educate. This is a cynical policy that I cannot and will not support." He made his comments Wednesday at an appearance at Ferguson Middle School, in the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

La'Shieka White talks about the lawsuit involving her son, Edmund Lee, on May 4, 2016. Attorney Joshua Thompson is at left.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

A black third-grader's effort to continue at his St. Louis charter school even though his family has moved to St. Louis County has gone to federal court.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, based in California, announced Wednesday that it had filed the lawsuit seeking to reverse long-standing provisions of the area-wide school desegregation settlement that bars African-American students living in the county from transferring to city public schools, including charters.

empty classroom
KT Klng | Flickr

A panel looking at the finances of Education Plus, the training and purchasing cooperative made up of more than 60 area public school districts, found that budget figures concealed deficit spending, overstated revenue and understated expenses.

North Tech senior Charles Wyatt helps remove the red bumper off his team's robot after competing Friday, April 29, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 2:30 p.m. May 1 with information of fourth school — Four local high schools scored well enough in district and regional robotics competitions to participate in the FIRST robotics championship held in St. Louis this weekend: North Technical, University City, Ladue Horton Watkins and Westminster Christian Academy.

North Tech, a high school in Florissant that’s part of St. Louis County’s Special School District, is in its rookie year and competed with just three members.

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

Adjunct instructors at Washington University have approved their first contract with the school, gaining an increase in pay, more control over schedules and improved working conditions.

Michael O’Bryan, an English instructor who has been involved in negotiations since the adjuncts approved joining the Service Employees International Union more than a year ago, said the four-year pact was approved by “a hefty margin” in balloting on Wednesday and Thursday. University acceptance of the contract remains just a formality, a spokeswoman said.

Normandy Middle School student Joshua Washington addresses Thursday night's public hearing
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

A year ago, Normandy residents were accusing Missouri education officials of failing to support their school district and setting them up to fail.

But just as the district’s score on its state report card showed great improvement last year, so did the public’s attitude at a public hearing at Normandy High School Thursday night.

File photo

Updated 3:20 p.m. April 28 with implementation of plan: The University of Missouri-St. Louis said Thursday it was going ahead with a budget plan that would eliminate up to 85 positions on campus but minimize the effect on students.

Education Plus helps districts with bulk purchasing, training and services.
Photos from Megan Moncure and PhotoAtelier | Flickr

When Don Senti announced earlier this month that he was stepping down, effective immediately, after five years as executive director of Education Plus, he cited health issues.

But emails among Senti, his staff and board members of the school district cooperative show that concerns about the financial health of the organization had intensified in the weeks leading up to his decision to leave.

Fifteen-thousand newborns will get free books and a tote bag of swag as part of the St. Louis County Library's expanded "Born to Read" program.
Pixabay

A St. Louis County Library program that gives books to newborns to boost early childhood literacy is doubling in size this year.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Classrooms today are not teaching a skill and that is proving detrimental to churning out informed, active citizens in a democracy, said professor Joel Westheimer on St. Louis on the Air. That skill would be: critical thinking.

“One of the big problems with schools right now is the cultural obsession with standardized testing,” Westheimer said. Westheimer is specifically referring to standardized testing around math and literacy, which is pushing aside the teaching of subjects such as art and the teaching of how to be an engaged citizen in democracy.

Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools, Kelvin Adams, tells the district’s Special Administrative Board (SAB) that the district should renovate and keep open Shenandoah and Mann Elementary School.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Administrators will no longer be able to suspend students in pre-kindergarten through second grade who attend St. Louis Public Schools starting next fall.

Superintendent Kelvin Adams on Tuesday outlined several changes to the district’s student code of conduct during a Special Administrative Board meeting.

The most significant change eliminated out-of-school suspensions for the district’s youngest students.

  St. Louis Public Radio is excited to announce the following professional awards and recognition:

2016 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award Winners: 

The Edward R. Murrow Awards are presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association and recognize the top achievements in electronic journalism produced around the world by radio, television, and online news organizations. St. Louis Public Radio is part of the Region 5 - Large Market division. Region 5 includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

State board President Charlie Shields and education Commissioner Margie Vandeven listen to Tuesday's discussion
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

After more than two years of sometimes contentious debate by lawmakers and educators, new Missouri learning standards won unanimous approval Tuesday from the state board of education.

Meeting in Jefferson City, board members stressed that the new standards — which replace Common Core standards — spell out what Missouri students should know in English, math, social studies and science at various grade levels. But local districts retain the authority and the responsibility to determine how those subjects will be taught.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

When Nate Marschalk, the executive director of the local education innovation non-profit The Disruption Department, heard of the new Education Innovation Fellowship program being piloted by St. Louis’ Venture Café and St. Louis Public Schools, he was immediately against the idea.

This year, the paid fellowship will pair 15 St. Louis Public Schools teachers with startups and innovative companies in the hope of bridging the gap between education and industry.

Marschalk worried about the fellowship’s end goal.

Interim President Mike Middleton addresses the University of Missouri Board of Curators
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Last fall, amid demonstrations in Columbia that ended the tenure of the University of Missouri’s president and the chancellor at Mizzou, the system became a national focus for campus problems about racial diversity and inclusion.

Now, the system’s interim president said Friday, it is becoming a model for the best way to work through those problems.

If the University of Missouri system can find its dream candidate for president, she or he will have a track record of success in education but also be able to deal with leaders in politics and business and communicate effectively with the public.

And strong leadership experience, plus a sensitivity to diversity, would be good as well.

Washington University

Updated 6:33 p.m. April 13, with tentative agreement: Washington University and unionized part-time faculty members announced a four-year tentative agreement late Wednesday that covers wages, job security and other issues the instructors had sought.

The move turns a planned protest rally and faculty walkout scheduled for Thursday into what a union spokeswoman called a victory rally.

Field of students at a graduation
j.o.h.n. walker | Flickr

Updated at 10:08 a.m. Thursday, April 14, with date set for curator vote: Students who plan to attend Washington University this fall know that their tuition will be $48,950. Toward the other end of the scale, in-state tuition at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville has been set at $8,352.

But as students try to finalize their academic plans, those headed for any of the four campuses of the University of Missouri don’t know yet how much their bills will be, and they don't know when the decision may be made.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

UPDATE: Washington U, adjuncts reach tentative agreement on four-year contract

Washington University adjunct faculty are warning of a walkout on Thursday in order to exert pressure on negotiations between their union and the school, which is refusing to move on the issue of a pay increase. Over 200 faculty and students alike have RSVP’d to the walk out Facebook event.

University of Missouri-Columbia

Backers of a study of the economic impact of the University of Missouri hope that its dollar figures speak loudly enough to drown out criticism of the system prompted by protests last fall in Columbia.

The study, released Monday, updates a 2007 study that looked at how much the four-campus university system contributes to the economy of the state. It was paid for by Missouri 100, a group that promotes the system politically and economically, and was conducted by two economics professors at Mizzou.

Cheryl Walker leading the presidential search forum at UMSL
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Could the new president of the University of Missouri live for a couple of years in each of the four cities where a campus is located, to get a better feel for the entire system?

Probably not. But that’s one of the ideas brought up at a forum at the university’s St. Louis campus Monday designed to help a 12-member search committee narrow the qualifications and characteristics the new president should have.

New UM diversity officer Kevin McDonald
University of Missouri

Monday’s St. Louis on the Air featured two exciting segments. First, we aired the season two premiere of the St. Louis Public Radio podcast We Live Here. Want to stay up-to-date on the podcast? Check out its new website here.

Following the premiere, the University of Missouri System’s newly named, first-ever chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Kevin McDonald, joined us to discuss some of the issues that We Live Here delves into as well as his plans for the new role. You can read about McDonald’s background here.

Mike Wattle’s “Student – Veteran – Identity" arrives on campus.
Dale SInger | St. Louis Public Radio

The Student Veterans Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis is designed to help ease the transition from the military to campus and eventually to life in the greater community.

Now, the center has a new mural to help show the way.

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

With its search committee in place and a desire to stabilize its leadership, the University of Missouri begins public hearings Monday to find out what qualities its next president should have.

Forums are set this week for each of the system’s four campuses, including one from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Monday at the Millennium Student Center at UMSL.

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