Education

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: More than 100 teachers and staff members in the Normandy School District may be laid off for the second semester and Bel-Nor Elementary School may be closed as the district works to close a multimillion-dollar hole in its budget.

At the first of two meetings held Wednesday, teachers were told this morning that 103 employees were likely to be laid off. Details of the plan are scheduled to be presented to the Normandy school board at its meeting Thursday night.

The professor and students can see each other, participate in chat and see course materials at the same time.
Screenshot from promotional video

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Bill Lowry considers himself to be a “pretty low-tech guy – no iPhone, no apps, any of that stuff” – so he thought it was pretty ironic that he is teaching the first class at Washington University’s entry into the growing field of internet education.

Dubbed Semester Online, the program joins Washington U. with other schools, including Emory, Northwestern and Notre Dame, for online instruction that is less open, less massive than the so-called MOOCs – massive online open courses -- that have been popping up all over in recent years.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Lots of teachers tell students to stay away from Wikipedia. At Washington University, Joan Strassmann has her students write articles for it.

Her undergraduate course in behavioral ecology is an officially designated Wikipedia course, where students learn not only about subjects like social insects but also about how to translate their scientific knowledge into terms the Wikipedia-using public can understand.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Collaboration and cooperation are common buzzwords on campus these days, but Washington University and the University of Missouri at St. Louis engineered their own special partnership back in 1993.

That’s when they began a program in which aspiring engineers could take their basic science and math courses at UMSL, then get their upper-level engineering training at Washington U.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Saint Louis University history professor Thomas Finan continues to unlock the secrets of medieval Ireland after the discovery of yet another Gaelic settlement dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries.

The settlement, in County Roscommon, in northwestern Ireland, was uncovered as part of a research project involving students from SLU and assistance from the University of Ireland-Galway.

Leona Meeks and Bob Hansman
Bram Sable-Smith | Beacon intern | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Just north of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, on the west side of Goodfellow Avenue, a tall white sign depicting a smiling young black woman welcomes visitors to Mom’s Kitchen. Inside, the considerably older and still recognizable woman chuckled as she hugged each of the 26 Washington University undergraduate students as they entered the restaurant recently.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal knows firsthand about the ins and outs of transferring from one school district to another.

When she was a student growing up in University City, her family moved to the city of St. Louis, where she attended a private school for a year. Then, she took advantage of the area’s voluntary desegregation plan and transferred to school in Clayton.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Even with a long list of qualities to live up to, and the strife that preceded the departure of the Rev. Lawrence Biondi, the presidency of Saint Louis University is a plum assignment that will draw dozens of applicants, a key figure in the search said Monday.

In Missouri, as in most states, public schools are administered by local school boards.  The boundaries of school districts are drawn in accordance with state law. Schools are funded primarily through local property taxes. Districts with higher per capita incomes tend to have better schools.  The districts most in danger of losing their accreditation tend to be those with lower per capita incomes.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Preparing for a legislative session expected to make changes in Missouri’s student transfer law, state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal is drafting a bill designed to rebuild unaccredited districts, preserve gains made by those on the bubble and sustain those that are solidly in the accredited category.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: While Normandy Superintendent Ty McNichols works behind closed doors to make budget cuts to help his district survive, he is also spending a lot of time in the public eye making sure everyone hears good things about his schools.

(via Flickr/pasa47)

Full-time faculty at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis have voted overwhelmingly to join the Missouri National Education Association.

Leaders like assistant history professor Brian Elsesser say 79 percent of those who voted agreed to join the Missouri National Education Association. The vote was certified today.

Elsesser says having a bargaining unit will help bring consistency to salaries at the university, but he says the push to form a union was driven by two principles.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Since the Rev. Lawrence Biondi left his post as president of Saint Louis University, strained relations between the faculty and the administration have improved, leaders of the Faculty Senate say.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When Missouri school officials release a flood of data every summer, the numbers usually result in a flurry of news, good or bad, then quickly sink from view.

But where the public’s attention ends, school districts’ work is just beginning.

(Courtesy of D.J. Wilson)

Cost is factor no matter what you are buying – a six-pack of beer, a pair of jeans, a house, or for a state government, a public education for school-age children.

 Much has been said about the cost of the region’s current inter-district student transfer program. Much of what has been said about that cost has been incomplete, or ill informed.  

The one price tag that’s been floated is $35 million. Let’s break that down. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: JEFFERSON CITY -- For several hours Tuesday afternoon, members of the Missouri House and Senate heard suggestions on changing the law allowing students in unaccredited school districts to transfer.

Should the way tuition is calculated be changed? Should state education officials have more power to devise regulations for transfers? Should failing districts simply be dissolved, with their students distributed to nearby accredited schools? Should transfers be stopped, with attention paid instead to making sure unaccredited districts improve?

DESE

Missouri's public school leaders are hoping state lawmakers next year will fully fund the formula for the state's K-12 school system, though they know the likelihood is slim.  Ron Lankford is Deputy Commissioner of Finance and Administrative Services for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  He spoke recently with St. Louis Public Radio's Marshall Griffin about the request and what full funding would mean for the state's 520 school districts:

What is the funding formula and what does it include?

comedy nose | Flickr

Second Brief: For the Sake of All

The second of five briefs from a multi-disciplinary study on African-American health in St. Louis and St. Louis County was released last week. It details how health issues lead African American high schoolers in the region to drop out of school.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Despite an improved showing in this year’s performance report, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will not recommend that the Kansas City schools be upgraded from their current unaccredited status.

The decision opens the door for students living in the Kansas City district to possibly follow those in Normandy and Riverview Gardens and transfer to adjacent accredited districts under a law upheld in June by the Missouri Supreme Court.

(via Flickr/NWABR)

A multi-disciplinary study released today finds that in relation to school dropout rates, health plays a bigger role than one might think.

The study is part of ‘For The Sake of All,’ a five part series from Washington University and Saint Louis University that focuses on the health of African Americans in the St. Louis region.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The transfer of students from Normandy and Riverview Gardens to accredited school districts has forced a lot of dislocation and financial stress, but panelists at an education forum said Tuesday it has also prompted people to look at students in a new way.

And, insisted Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s commissioners for elementary and secondary education, despite what some people say, the process has not resulted in a mess.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri’s commissioner of education said Monday that until three years of data are available from the St. Louis Public Schools under the state’s new evaluation system, she doesn’t see a move toward restoring control of the school district to an elected board.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Yesterday, we profiled the new superintendent at the Normandy schools.

Now, we introduce you to the man who finds himself in the same position at another struggling school district- Riverview Gardens. 

knittymarie / Flickr

With less than three months on the job, Normandy School District Superintendent Tyrone McNichols has a clear plan to regain accreditation from the state and a strong message about the help he needs to make that plan successful.

The main academic components of McNichols' plan involve a new literacy program in partnership with the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a new focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). As part of the focus on STEM, a new science program is being implemented through a partnership with Washington University.

Courtesy Normandy School District

Now that the school transfer process is in full swing, we’re taking a look at the new superintendents who are hustling to earn back state accreditation for their school districts.

Both men have only been on the job for a few months, and facing long odds, they’re reaching out the community to help get their schools back on track.

This two part report starts on the first day of school in the parking lot of Normandy High School. 

Intel Free Press/Wikimedia Commons

Students at Kirkwood High School became the latest to join AT&T's nationwide push to stop texting and driving.

(via Flickr/evmaiden)

Missouri education officials are seeking an additional $6.8 million to help Normandy school district.

The State Board of Education approved the budget request on Tuesday. That's the first step in a process that ultimately requires the support of the governor and Legislature to become a reality.

Students started transferring out of the Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts this year under a state law that requires unaccredited districts to pay the costs for students who want to attend other public schools.

Courtesy Normandy School District

Normandy and Riverview Gardens School Districts are unaccredited. St. Louis Public Schools is only provisionally accredited. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri board of education is asking lawmakers for another $6.8 million to help the Normandy school district survive until the end of the school year.

Without the money, state education officials say, Normandy may disappear and its students be divided up among other districts. If the legislature does not come up with the supplemental money, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does not have funds to keep Normandy afloat, a spokeswoman said.

Destiny Esper
Dale Singer | St. Louis Beacon | 2012

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When classes began last month, Normandy schools lost more than 1,000 students who decided to transfer to accredited districts nearby. The district also lost a former valedictorian who had come back to her old middle school to teach.

Destiny Esper, who had studied journalism and public relations before deciding  to go into education, started her career teaching English at Normandy Middle School last year after going through the Teach for America program.

Pages