Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

Students at the Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls on May 12, 2017, a St. Louis charter school that opened in 2015.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers are making another attempt at expanding independent charter schools outside of the state’s two major cities, this time with a more narrow focus.

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on Monday voted 7-6 to advance a charter school expansion bill. The legislation allows charter schools to go head-to-head with struggling schools but not entire districts.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens is proposing a $6.5 million increase to Missouri’s student financial aid programs, a modest boost amid his desire to cut $68 million in direct funds to the state’s public colleges and universities.

The state’s Department of Higher Education gave 64,500 students attending in-state schools about $128.5 million last year in the form of three grants: Access Missouri, a financial need-based grant; Bright Flight, a merit-based scholarship; and the A+ Scholarship, providing free community college to students completing 50 hours of community service in high school.

Charles Robinson, right, a deputy juvenile officer in the St. Louis Family Court's truancy unit, leaves Roosevelt  High School with a student in his caseload who got into a fight and was suspended.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Charles Robinson’s morning is already upended.

With a rap on the wooden door of his small office, he learns the mother of a child in his caseload overdosed on drugs the night before.

He had planned to do home visits with a middle school social worker. With a few deep breaths, Robinson collects himself. Then moments later, a phone call interrupts again.

St. Louis city students ride a Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation, VICC, school bus on May 11, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Jeanie Ames is running for the Parkway school board on a manifesto of good taxpayer stewardship and continued academic excellence where “all learners ... feel safe, appreciated, and challenged.”

But several parents say Ames’ social media postings portray someone with racist viewpoints.

She is among five candidates who filed last week to run for the Parkway Board of Education. Kevin Seltzer, Jonathan Taylor, Matthew Schindler and Amy Bonnett are also running. Ames' candidacy is igniting an unusually high level of interest for a school board race still months away.

Students at Adams Elementary in St. Louis Sept 2016
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

State authority of the St. Louis Public School district has accomplished its job and it’s time for a return to local control, according to the district’s appointed board. But it’s not clear when that could happen.

In a unanimous vote Thursday evening, the three-person Special Administrative Board approved a motion to return authority of the district to the St. Louis Board of Education, which is elected but powerless, after a decade of state control.

Addie Bond, a St. Louis parent, Special Administrative Board member Richard Gaines and legal counsel Jonathan Dalton listen to a presentation during a governance task force meeting Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

A task force on the future governance of St. Louis’ public schools says control of the district should eventually return to local, democratic oversight, but members struggled to agree on much else.

In a meeting that began at noon and lasted well into Wednesday evening, a committee assigned with determining St. Louis Public Schools’ future recommended the restoration of an elected school board, but with the caveat that in seven years voters would get to choose whether to keep that elected board.

Tabari Coleman (left) and Stephen Zwolak (right) talk about their organizations' efforts to help children understand and respect other people’s identities and differences.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

How can children learn to respect other people’s identities and differences in the world?

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about how parents, grandparents, other relatives and caregivers can help young children understand and appreciate differences in other human beings, families and communities.

Joining the discussion were Tabari Coleman, project director of the Anti-Defamation League’s A World of Difference Institute, and Stephen Zwolak, CEO of LUME Institute and executive director of  the University City Children’s Center.

Quinn Dombrowski | Flickr

Missouri is set to increase the amount it spends on public preschool, but education officials say even if the funds are put in the next budget, the small increase will have only a marginal impact.

By hitting a benchmark for education funding during last year’s budget process, state lawmakers set off a provision that requires more funding for pre-K in the following fiscal year.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Goodwill, the nonprofit organization best known for its thrift stores, will operate a network of adult high schools across Missouri, with its first scheduled to open in St. Louis in October.

MERS Goodwill, the Missouri and southern Illinois branch of the job training agency, announced Tuesday it won a contract with Missouri education officials to open four schools.

File | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The search has begun for Missouri’s next education commissioner, even though there currently aren’t enough board members to vote on hiring Margie Vandeven’s successor.

Ten people applied for the job by Monday’s deadline. But Board of Education President Charlie Shields said they can’t even review their applications until there are at least five voting members on the State Board.

Normandy marching band performs during the VP Parade in Forest Park Saturday, July 4, 2015.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Last Tuesday was supposed to be a monumental day for Normandy’s public school district. It was kicking off 2018 with a distinction it had not enjoyed in almost five years: It was no longer unaccredited in the eyes of the state school board.

Instead, school was canceled because of below-zero morning temperatures. Leadership at Normandy Schools Collaborative, as the district has been known since a reconfiguration in 2014, still took a few minutes to acknowledge the milestone.

St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Ryan Delaney  disscussed the top local education stories of 2017.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the top local education stories of 2017 with St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Ryan Delaney.

Boxes of classroom furniture sit ready to be unpacked in the gymnasium of Stone Creek Elementary, which was finished weeks before the Wentzville school year started in August. The district wants to build two more schools to keep up with growth.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Wentzville School District just opened two new school buildings in August. But now officials are plotting out two more.

The St. Charles County school district’s board of education approved putting a bonding measure on the April 2018 ballot on Thursday. It will allow the district to borrow enough money for two more new schools and additions for four others.

Maplewood Richmond Heights teacher Otto Schultejans received a painting from a challenging student with the Beatles' lyric "nothing's going to change my world." It became "her way of saying ‘yeah, you actually did change my world.’”
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

It can be a parade of baked goods into classrooms the week before winter break. Gift cards tend to stack up on teachers’ desks. But sometimes, a gift overwhelms a teacher — and it’s kept for decades.

In the final days before winter break, teachers and students will wrap up the fall semester and dash home to celebrate the holidays. Before that, many students will present to their favorite teachers gifts, large and small; hand-made and store-bought; expensive and not-so-much.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Lauren Coale sends students in her math classes home with videos on how to do complicated algebra or geometry problems.

Instead of lecturing her students, Coale’s class time at Lindbergh High School is free for student interaction, instead of instruction on the overhead projector.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

With the task of going through a state Senate confirmation process approaching, Gov. Eric Greitens’ picks to the Missouri State Board of Education successfully sped up the process of finding an education commissioner over the objections of the board’s president.

The governor’s five nominees outflanked three other board members during a teleconference Thursday to open and close the application process for a new education commissioner before an early January meeting. The board fired Commissioner Margie Vandeven Dec. 1 over objections of lawmakers from both sides as well as leaders and supporters of traditional school districts.

St. Louis Community College student lie on the floor and chant during a Nov. 30, 2017 Board of Trustees meeting in an effort to delay a vote on teacher layoffs and budget cuts. Five of those students are now facing disciplinary action from the school.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

At least five students at St. Louis Community College received a letter summoning them to a meeting with their dean of students to talk about disciplinary action over a protest at a Board of Trustees meeting last week.

Those five, along with other students and professors, caused an hour-long delay for a vote over cutting the college’s faculty and staff. Ultimately, the trustees approved the cuts during a confusing and raucous meeting on Nov. 30.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s top public school leaders are getting larger salary bumps than the teachers they’re overseeing, according to an audit from state auditor Nicole Galloway.

The audit released Monday found a large gap in the pay range of superintendents which is not always based on district size. Overall, superintendent pay is up 31 percent from 12 years ago, according to the auditor. During that same time, teacher salaries increased 22 percent.

Margie Vandeven gets a hug from a supporter after the State Board of Education voted 5-3 to remove her as Education Commissioner.
Marshall Griffin I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens got his wish to install a new education chief Friday after enough of his appointees to the state's board of education voted to remove commissioner Margie Vandeven.

The Missouri State Board of Education voted 5-3 to oust Vandeven, according to board member Mike Jones, from St. Louis. It was the second vote on Vandeven’s status in the past couple of weeks.

File | St. Louis Public Radio

Normandy’s school district has surpassed a “milestone” in its long turnaround process.

The Missouri State Board of Education voted unanimously Friday to raise the district’s classification up to “provisionally accredited,” a change from the failing status at which it’s languished the past five years. The reclassification will bring an end to a program that’s caused the district to lose scores of students and millions of dollars to other schools.

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