Education

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Many of the factors typically cited for dropout problem in American schools – money, overcrowding, poverty, testing – came up during a live television town hall Monday night, but the one that seemed to resonate most was more personal than institutional.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: After reading the president’s “Plan to Make College More Affordable” I couldn’t help but recall the scene in the “Wizard of Oz” in which the Wizard awards the stalwart travelers symbols of their true characteristics. The Cowardly Lion receives a medal, for he truly was brave. The Tin Man a heart, for he truly was compassionate. And the Scarecrow gets a diploma because even though he actually was quite intelligent, he just didn’t have the college degree to prove it.

St. Louis Beacon graphic | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Anyone who wants to play what Normandy’s school superintendent calls the “MSIP game” better make sure to know the rules.

Since his district’s annual performance review score was revealed last month to be 11.1 percent – lowest in the state – Ty McNichols and other Normandy administrators have been poring over the numbers, trying to determine the best way to rise out of unaccredited territory by achieving a score of at least 50 percent.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A federal judge has ruled that mandatory drug testing for students at Linn State Technical College is unconstitutional unless they are enrolled in certain programs where drug use could pose a safety hazard.

The 62-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey is the latest in a two-year legal battle between the college, which instituted the mandatory drug testing for all students, and students who say their constitutional rights have been violated.

Isaak Dore addresses Clayton students.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: With the Syrian situation changing almost by the hour, students at Clayton High School had the chance Thursday morning to get valuable perspective on global relations from a man who has helped shape international law and human rights.

Not surprisingly, the issues are more complex than they may seem at first.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When schools are putting so much emphasis on numbers – MAP scores, accreditation points and the like – finding a place in the curriculum for something as tough to measure as character education might seem difficult.

But with a pioneering local program known as Characterplus about to celebrate its 25th anniversary, its supporters say that a solid background in character education is a great way to help boost academic achievement.

Kelvin Adams 2012
courtesy St. Louis Public Schools

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The St. Louis Public Schools are headed for financial problems, do not adequately address the difficulties of students who fall behind, need to monitor test results more closely to detect possible cheating and should seek bids more often for goods and services, according to a state audit released Wednesday.

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.

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