Education

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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.

Normandy website

As opposed to the negative vote and heated discussion back in October, Thursday night's bills won approval without any comment, though one member voted no.

The issue was the same, but the atmosphere – and the vote – were quite different Thursday night at the Normandy school board.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public radio

  The crowd was a lot smaller at Wednesday night’s second hearing called by Missouri state school officials into the future of the Normandy school district, but its passion remained strong.

And its message was a simple one: Their school district deserves more time to turn itself around, so the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) should come up with a plan that stops students transfers and helps Normandy survive.

Missouri Senate

A proposal to circumvent thousands of potential student transfers in the Kansas City area may be considered by the Missouri General Assembly next year.

Governor's website

Gov. Jay Nixon wants public universities in Missouri to keep their tuition the same for the 2014-15 school year in exchange for an increase of $36.7 million in his budget request for higher education.

comedy_nose / Flickr

Updated 5:06 p.m. with statement from Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education 

The Missouri Supreme Court has again upheld a law requiring unaccredited school districts to pay for students who chose to attend elsewhere.

DESE website

Despite a growing chorus for Chris Nicastro to leave her post as Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, the head of the state’s school board gave her a vote of confidence Monday and defended the selection of a consultant currently looking into the Kansas City schools.

Nicastro has come under fire in recent weeks, first for her consultation with an education advocacy group on its initiative petition that included changes in teacher tenure, then from a Kansas City Star story on Sunday.

knittymarie / Flickr

Teachers in Mount Olive Ill. are going on strike Monday morning.   

The dispute between teachers and the board of education in the small town about 50 miles north east of St. Louis hinges on salary, retirement benefits and health insurance.

“We’ve bargained through the terms of an expired contract through last August and this is the point it’s come to,” said Marcus Albrecht, regional director for the Illinois Education Association.

A key sticking point is teacher pay in their last four years of employment.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis startup wants to provide schools with a curriculum, training and support to help teachers show students how to write computer code so they can land a good job even if they don't go to college.

To get an idea of why training students to write computer code should be a higher priority for schools, consider these numbers:

Cast a Line / Flickr

After traveling the state to get feedback from educators and community members, the Missouri House Interim Committee on Education has released its final report.

Among the recommendations is a tuition limit for what an unaccredited district pays when a student transfers to an accredited district in the same or adjoining county.

(Go here for an FAQ on student transfers)

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

The Superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District, Art McCoy, spoke publicly today for the first time about being placed on administrative leave by the school board on Nov. 6.

Last week the Missouri Department of Education said it had found “significant alterations” to 2012 student attendance data that was submitted in August, and that it will work with district staff to make the necessary corrections. The state factors attendance numbers into how much funding a district will receive.   

(File images)

During the University of Missouri Board of Curators' two-day meeting at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the board unanimously approved the merger of the non-profit news organizations St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon, which is expected to be completed next month.

Leadership at both organizations has been planning the merger for more than a year.

St. Louis Public Radio’s license is held by the University of Missouri Curators, and the merger required the board’s approval.

_J_D_R_ / Flickr

In Missouri, the average student loan debt for people between 25 and 34-years-old has increased by about 120 percent over the past eight years. In Illinois, that number has jumped more than 140 percent, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Nationally, student loan debt has topped the $1 trillion mark, surpassing credit card debt and auto loans.  

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