Education

(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.   

Art McCoy
File copy | Ferguson-Florissant website

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Nearly three weeks after he was placed on paid administrative leave by the Ferguson-Florissant school board, Superintendent Art McCoy says he still has no definite idea why he was suspended and when he might be able to return to work.

William Kauffman (300 pixeld)
Provided | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Bill Kauffman has been interim president at Saint Louis University since Sept. 1, but his 18 years as the university’s general counsel still contribute to a lawyerly manner.

In a wide-ranging interview in the board room at DuBourg Hall, Kauffman generally paused quietly before answering questions, then responded in measured, reserved tones.

(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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Undergraduate resident tuition for the 2014-15 academic year at the four campuses of the University of Missouri system would rise 1.7 percent, the national inflation rate, under projections presented to the system’s Board of Curators on Thursday.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - As superintendent of the Riverview Gardens School District since July 1, Scott Spurgeon has an array of facts and figures, plans and practices that he says can help the district regain accreditation.

But, he told a hearing called by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Wednesday night, he also has one solid indicator that things are looking up.

Art McCoy
File copy | Ferguson-Florissant website

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Missouri school officials say they are investigating "potential irregularities in mandatory reporting including district attendance" in the Ferguson-Florissant school district.

Information from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was released following word from the district's school board that it had “serious” new information about suspended Superintendent Art McCoy that it is referring to state education officials.

arty representation of jackson on currency
_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.  

Courtesy of Beyond Housing

A recent decision by the Normandy School District will set the stage for the state and our region to address the financial aspect of the student transfer law.   Whether or not you agree with their decision, Normandy was not in any financial trouble before the transfer ruling and was in full compliance of state standards of fiscal soundness.  So how did we get here?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - The crowd that jammed the gym at McCluer North High School Wednesday night was concerned with more than the return of Art McCoy as Ferguson-Florissant superintendent. They also cheered the prospect of the departure of the board members who placed McCoy on leave last week.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Board member Terry Artis voted "hell, no" as the Normandy school board voted to approve paying tuition for students who transferred out of the district. The 5-1 vote was made in front of a packed house of more than 80.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Two high-profile education stories will be in the spotlight Wednesday night.

In Normandy, the school board will once again decide whether to pay tuition bills to local districts that have accepted students who have transferred to attend nearby accredited schools.

Courtesy of Show Me Institute

Imagine going to a school where less than a quarter of students are reading on grade level and a third of your classmates will never make it to graduation. Many students in the St. Louis area do not have to imagine because that is their sad reality. Until recently, students in these failing schools have been trapped unless they could afford private school tuition or they could move to a different school district.

(via Flickr/frankjuarez)

A state audit released Tuesday finds that local governments and school districts in Missouri have cost themselves $43 million by not allowing competition for underwriting public bonds.

State Auditor Tom Schweich (R) cites the practice of negotiated bond sales, in which an underwriter is hired in advance and sometimes acts as a financial advisor to the local government that issues the bond.

Dianitia Butler has been in the Normandy School District her entire life.

The senior at Normandy High School is quick to tell you that it’s been a rough year, and she’s especially frustrated by staff reductions brought on by expenses associated with school transfer.

Despite the challenges, she’ll also tell you that school spirit is alive and well. 

“It’s definitely students coming together as one,” Butler said, who is also the student representative for the school board.   “Seeing that we’re all in this together.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Normandy school Superintendent Ty McNichols marshaled a detailed array of facts and figures Monday night to show state school officials how the district arrived at its unaccredited status and what it is doing to win its accreditation back.

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