Education

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When an outside consulting firm takes a hard look at ways to improve the Kansas City schools, its report may not have the answers to achieving the same goal in St. Louis, but it could certainly be asking the right questions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This time last year, the St. Louis Public Schools were pushing for an upgrade in their accreditation classification, making the argument that the latest state evaluation gave them enough points to climb out of unaccredited territory.

Chris Nicastro, who heads the department of elementary and secondary education, originally said the district had shown improvement, but not enough to win provisional accreditation.

St. Louis Beacon graphic | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Besides hearing updated figures on Normandy High School's discipline incidents, the district's school board meeting Wednesday night also featured a lengthy presentation of Normandy’s scores in last week’s release of numbers from the first year’s evaluations under the fifth cycle of the Missouri School Improvement Plan, or MSIP5.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Let’s be very specific about last week’s breaking news in education: The state will be paying nearly $400,000 to a consultant to tell us why Kansas City, one of Missouri’s three unaccredited school districts, is failing. As in the other two unaccredited districts — Riverview Gardens and Normandy — Kansas City students are predominantly African American and live in communities that are economically disadvantaged. All three districts, as well as St. Louis (again) are having a hard time getting a sufficient number of kids to pass the state’s high-stakes tests — MAP and end-of-course exams — that Missouri children take every spring.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Normandy school superintendent Ty McNichols says the district has a secret legal strategy to address the student transfer situation, but in the meantime it needs to make sure that the 3,000 students who have stayed behind receive the best education possible.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: If Missouri educators were to use the first year of a new evaluation plan to classify school districts, St. Louis Public Schools would slide back into unaccredited territory, joining Normandy and Riverview Gardens, and other local districts would be downgraded to provisionally accredited.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dear Beaconites -

Last month, I worried that the school transfer issue could evolve into a perfect storm of our region's most emotional and intractable problems. Urban-exurban resentments, timid leadership, educational inequality and race -- all potentially feed the mix.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Now that hundreds of students have started their long bus rides from Normandy and Riverview Gardens to accredited districts, can they expect to have greater academic success in their new schools?

Nothing is certain, of course, but educational research – and the long experience the St. Louis area has with the voluntary desegregation transfer plan – suggest that where students attend class can have a definite positive effect on how much they learn.

St. Louis Beacon graphic | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been working for years to get authority to step in more quickly to help unaccredited school districts.

Now that a newly signed law gives it that power, the state board of education wants to make sure that it uses it in the right way.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: JEFFERSON CITY -- With more than 2,500 students in unaccredited school districts in St. Louis County transferring elsewhere this fall, and the possibility of more transferring out of Kansas City schools, Missouri education officials have hired an outside consultant to help failing districts improve and prevent others from losing accreditation.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: An enthusiastic crowd of school officials and alumni showed up Monday morning to greet students on the first day of classes at Normandy High School, but the good mood was overshadowed somewhat by issues in the back of the minds of school officials and parents alike.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Members of the Missouri state board of education voted unanimously Tuesday to grant provisional accreditation to the St. Louis Public Schools, accepting a recommendation from Commissioner Chris Nicastro.

The Rev. Lawrence Biondi, who had announced he would be leaving the presidency of Saint Louis University after faculty and student votes of no-confidence in his leadership, will retire Sept. 1 to become president emeritus, the head of the university’s board of trustees said Friday.

Mayor Francis Slay and Fr. Lawrence Biondi share a light-hearted moment before the ribbon cutting at the new SLU law building.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The formal opening of Saint Louis University’s new law school building at 100 N. Tucker was hailed Friday morning as transformative for the school and for downtown, but the real essence of what it’s all about was captured in the invocation by the Rev. Chris Pinne, law school chaplain.

In his remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by faculty, staff, alumni and more, Pinne said the school is dedicated to the integrity of truth and justice, to helping people with any issue, “whether it be intellectual property or just how do I get out of this jam.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Josh Schindler is an attorney who has been advocating for parents who have fought to pull their children out of the unaccredited Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts. 

But the plight of homeless students has added another layer to the school transfer debate, he said.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When two buses from Riverview Gardens rolled up to Oakville High School after an hour-long trip south Thursday morning, the first person students met wasn’t the school’s principal or the Mehlville school superintendent.

Provided by Susan Uchitelle

All of us should be greatly concerned that the continuation of the Sequestration will have an extremely negative impact on the future of our schools and our school age children. It adversely impacts education in many ways
 

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Rather than divert attention and money to vouchers and charter schools, the president of the American Federation of Teachers says the district-teacher collaboration in St. Louis should become a model to help strengthen public school districts nationwide.

Citing grants for innovation and programs that help new teachers and veterans alike, Randi Weingarten told a news conference at Gateway Elementary School Tuesday that the survival of public education is at a pivotal moment.

Cast a Line / Flickr

Welcome to our guide to the Missouri school transfers situation. This document will be updated as the news changes and we gather more information.

Have more questions? Tweet us at @stlpublicradio or leave it in the comments below.

Last updated 1/07/14

What is this law?

Will the law be changed?

Which districts are involved in the St. Louis region?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Everyone knows the old adage, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” However, the Missouri Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the school transfer law has proven that it is quite possible to displease people on all sides of an issue at the same time.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: I’m not sure which is making my own skin crawl more, the unveiled racist talk of white parents afraid of what weapon-wielding and drug-transporting black kids will do to property values, or the creepy pity expressed by white parents who say they want to wrap their arms around poor black children who have to get on buses before daylight to get themselves a decent education. Ugh.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Even though classes start Monday for the Riverview Gardens School District, as of Friday morning Micah Pope hadn’t gotten in to any of the districts where she wanted to transfer. So her mother planned to keep the eighth-grader home rather than have her go back to a school she thinks is inadequate.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: For some parents in the Riverview Gardens District, the transfer law is turning out to be an illusion, promising access to better education for their children but offering no space or free transportation to accredited schools on their radar. Yet, for others like parents Orney and Corie Walker, the law is a godsend.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Threatened lawsuits against the Mehlville School District because of limits it placed on the number of transfer students it would accept are on hold, at least for now, as talks on the issue continue.

As a deadline set by the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri passed, the group – which earlier had announced the pending lawsuits – said in a statement:

Principal Sonny Arnel
Dale Singer | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As bright yellow school buses pulled into the parking lot of Francis Howell Central High School on Thursday’s first day of class, the sentiment from students, parent and the principal was the same:

Principal Sonny Arnel said of the transfer students, “You're Spartans, but you're coming from a different situation. What can we do to help you?”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: After a rough stretch of negative news – a highly critical audit, the resignation of one board member and ouster of two others by voters, defeat of a bond issue and departure of a superintendent – the Rockwood School District was more than ready to hear state Auditor Tom Schweich’s message Wednesday:

“I’ve got good news today.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Three parents in Riverview Gardens say they will file suit against the Mehlville School District Thursday afternoon unless Mehlville drops its limits on how many transfer students it will accept.

Aligyah Adams and John Mullen
Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Shante Buggs is a product of the Normandy District, and she intends to keep her two children enrolled there in spite of its loss of accreditation. But she concedes that the issue has caused a little friction in the family.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri has advised the superintendents of the Kirkwood and Mehlville schools that they have no legal basis to turn away any transfer students on the basis of class size or available space.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri Education Commissioner Chris L. Nicastro raised questions Friday about the financial survival of the Normandy School District in the wake of the decision by more than a quarter of its students to transfer to schools in accredited districts.

Pages