Education

Cast a Line / Flickr

Many state officials have been receptive to a fresh proposal to overhaul the state’s school accreditation system, but the plan would take years to implement and won’t help the districts facing bankruptcy over student transfer and tuition costs.

Marshall Cohen, right, with a recent graduate
Provided by Mr. Cohen

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - For Marshall Cohen, the word dumbbell has two distinct meanings.

The exercise equipment played a big part in the success of Lift for Life gym, the weight-lifting mecca for inner-city kids that Cohen started 25 years ago to help provide hope for lives that often had little but despair. The gym spawned a charter school, Lift for Life Academy, one of the first in St. Louis.

Michel Martin
Doby Photography / NPR

When Michel Martin, host of NPR’s Tell Me More, brings her show to St. Louis Public Radio’s home of UMSL at Grand Center on November 8, 2013, it should come as no surprise that education will be a topic.

breahn / Flickr

Companies from across the St. Louis region are launching a new program on Monday that’s aimed at steering women toward careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, related fields.

The mentoring and job shadowing project is a partnership between the private all-girls Catholic high school Cor Jesu Academy and companies that include Ameren, Watlow and Barry-Wehmille Companies, Inc.

President of Cor Jesu Academy, Sister Barbara Thomas, said they’ve worked with each company so that a woman engineer is onsite to guide students.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - As lawmakers, educators and others prepare for what shapes up to be a lively discussion about changes in Missouri classrooms, St. Louis area superintendents say they would like to see more money directed to struggling schools so that students could learn where they live rather than having to travel elsewhere.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: After collecting opinions from a variety of campus groups, Saint Louis University has begun seeking a president who will be expected to “maintain SLU’s Jesuit core values and existing strengths, while building boldly and creatively on the university’s potential for future growth.”

Two members of the Normandy school board were absent for last week’s vote rejecting bills from districts that have accepted transferring students. But their presence may not have made any difference in the outcome.

What often is a routine part of a school board meeting attracted a lot more attention Thursday night when a motion to pay $1.3 million in bills submitted by receiving school districts for tuition and transportation in September came up for a vote.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri’s budget priorities have long-term consequences and they are not good.

The recent snafu over the fiscal budget, the debt ceiling and the continued funding of Obamacare provides a teachable moment. Spending choices, whether at the federal or state level, have economic consequences.

(Courtesy Lisa Thompson/Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

This fall more than 2,500 students climbed on board buses and into taxis leaving the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens Districts for accredited districts in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties.

The migration began after a ruling this June by the Missouri Supreme Court, which upheld a controversial state law.

It just so happens that the two unaccredited districts are predominantly African-American, and the districts chosen to receive them are largely white.

As St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports that’s drawn some comparisons to an earlier time.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Despite a vote by the Normandy school board rejecting payment for tuition and transportation costs for students transferring elsewhere, Missouri education commissioner Chris Nicastro emphasized two points on Friday:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Leading the search for the new president of Saint Louis University, Jim Smith is focusing on lots of facets of the school’s operations – finances, academics, the climate on campus and the importance of its Jesuit mission.

But he isn’t too concerned about SLU’s drop in rankings by U.S. News & World Report – down to 101st in the most recent listing.

After all, Smith told the Beacon in an interview this week, “My company does those ratings.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: After agreeing to save money by laying off 103 teachers and staff members and offering early retirement incentives to 98 more, the Normandy school board took an unexpected stand Thursday night by voting against paying $1.3 million in tuition and transportation bills for transferring students for the month of September.

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.

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?

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