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Education

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Imagine watching prime time TV and suddenly seeing Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon appearing in a 30-second ad – and it isn’t even an election year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Rev. Lawrence Biondi announced Saturday night at a gala celebrating his 25 years as president of Saint Louis University that he will leave his office and has asked the university's board to start searching for his successor.

The announcement comes at the end of a strife-filled year during which faculty members and students voted no confidence in his leadership.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri’s top education officials are doing their best to dispel what they say are common misconceptions about common core school standards.

In emails, conference calls, online videos and meetings in each of the state’s eight congressional districts, personnel from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education fanned out to explain what the standards are, what they aren’t and how they are designed to help Missouri students score higher on standardized tests.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Winifred Crock devotes herself to music in every aspect of her life, and with every rehearsal or private lesson, enriches the lives of her students. The Parkway Central High School Orchestra Director will be named the St. Louis Symphony’s 2013 Educator of the Year later this week and, as a strong supporter of the symphony, is thrilled.

Commentary: If Biondi is so bad, why didn't faculty object earlier?

May 3, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Now that the weather is nice again, students and faculty will be found outside protesting President Biondi as they did in the fall.

Protesting Fr. Biondi seems to be a new tradition at SLU. It certainly has not always been the case during his 25 year tenure.

This raises the reasonable question, why the strong objections to Fr. Biondi’s leadership now? He hasn’t changed, has he?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: At the start of Thursday’s regional education summit to determine the best way to help more St. Louis area residents earn college degrees, Danny Ludeman stepped to the microphone, took off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves.

That pretty much summarized the message of speakers for the next five hours: Everybody involved – from education, business, government, civic groups and others – needs to get down to work quickly if they want to meet a goal of having the area move into the top 10 nationwide in college degrees by the year 2025. It is now ranked 14th.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: What do a fourth grader at Jackson Park Elementary School and legendary African-American baseball player Jackie Robinson have in common? Determination. Courage. Confidence. They both overcame barriers that many could not. They both felt different and did something about it.

Fourth grader Xavier Morgan-Gillard told his story in “What Jackie Robinson and I Have in Common” and entered the essay in the Major League Baseball and Scholastic Inc. 2013 Breaking Barriers in Sports, In Life contest, which drew 18,700 submissions. He, along with three other students, won first place.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Rev. Lawrence Biondi, president of Saint Louis University, did not attend the school’s Faculty Senate meeting as originally scheduled on Tuesday, but his presence was definitely felt.

Much of the meeting was spent discussing the draft of a senate report that found Biondi’s leadership was subpar, a reason for what a task force found to be SLU’s decline in many areas. His style was characterized as management by intimidation.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: George Wasson, who resigned as president of the Meramec campus of St. Louis Community College in the wake of an alleged assault on a student that was not publicized, will be paid more than $25,700 for unspecified duties until his contract expires at the end of next month.

In a statement released by the college, Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey, who oversees all four campuses of the school, said she had accepted Wasson’s resignation, effective immediately. But, she said, Wasson was “asked to remain available for unfinished actions commenced by him, and in exchange he was placed on paid administrative leave until his contract expires June 30, 2013.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Have you heard the one about the small town that had a hard time supporting one lawyer but had no trouble supporting two?

That joke drew a big laugh from Mike Wolff, the new dean of the Saint Louis University law school. At the end of a strife-filled year that hasn’t provided much even to smile about, Wolff is pushing to put the past behind him and the school and plot a future that includes a new building, a new push to integrate the school and the community and new ways to prepare future lawyers for careers that will require a range of professional skills beyond simply waging pitched battles in court.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Rev. Lawrence Biondi, president of Saint Louis University, and Thomas Brouster, head of the university's board of trustees, will not meet with the Faculty Senate as planned on Tuesday, senate president Mark Knuepfer said Saturday.

In a strongly worded statement, Knuepfer said the secretary of the SLU board had told him that the pair would not be attending the final senate meeting of the year, as agreed upon in a statement released after the board meeting in December.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:David Letterman isn’t the only one paying attention to Top 10 lists.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been working for a while on its Top 10 by 20 initiative, a push to bring the state into the leaders in educational achievement by the year 2020.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Faculty, staff and students got together at Saint Louis University to focus on the school’s future, but their discussions inevitably concentrated on the recent past.

Wednesday’s meeting was billed as an effort to draw up a people’s strategic plan for SLU as it nears its 200th birthday in 2018. The call to arms talked about an effort to devise a “not-so-secret” blueprint, compared with what organizers said had been put together behind closed doors by university officials, then kept under wraps.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A bill that would bring big changes to how Missouri teachers are evaluated – and how those evaluations could affect their jobs – lost big in the Missouri House last week, but those who favored the changes aren’t giving up yet.

The legislation – House bill 631 – had sailed through committee to the House floor, but when it came up for a vote last Wednesday, opposition from teachers unions, some school districts and others resulted in a lopsided defeat, 102-55.

Saint Louis University board of trustees who has been a focus of faculty discontent during the stalemate over the Rev. Lawrence Biondi, will step down from his chairmanship at the end of the school year.

Brouster told the Beacon he was leaving because his business and his family required more of his attention than he could give if he remained in the board chairmanship, which he assumed last September – the beginning of a year of tumult at the university.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Saint Louis University needs new leadership, say nearly three-fourths of the faculty members who responded to a survey taken by the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

In a news release Thursday morning, the faculty group said its survey validated earlier “no confidence” votes on the leadership of SLU President Lawrence Biondi taken by faculty and student government groups.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Instead of insisting that only the legislature, not the department of education, can adopt new national standards for Missouri schools, state Sen. John Lamping has changed course.

The new version of a bill filed by the Republican from Ladue gives the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education responsibility for conducting hearings around Missouri on what the common core state standards are, how they would change what Missouri students learn and how much they might cost to put into effect.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Saint Louis University is threatening a faculty group with a copyright infringement lawsuit if it proceeds with its own supplemental survey on the climate on campus.

The survey, which is designed to focus more sharply on the strained relationship between professors and the Rev. Lawrence Biondi, president of the university, was set to go out last week. But it is on hold because of the threatened legal action.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Questioning whether a student who is taking a course like drafting is really a danger to others, a federal judge has blocked most mandatory drug testing at Linn State Technical College.

The school instituted the testing in the fall of 2011, saying that its students are training for fields in which they will operate heavy machinery and will be in positions where impairment by drugs could pose significant threats to public safety.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Depending on who you talk to, a new tuition policy at Saint Louis University law school will either save summer students money or cause them to pay up to 60 percent more.

In recent years, summer students, who generally are those working part time toward a law degree, have paid a flat fee of $4,500 for courses, regardless of how many hours they sign up for. The new policy, which students were notified of last week, gets rid of the flat fee and instead charges $1,200 for each credit hour.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Depending on who you talk to, a new tuition policy at Saint Louis University law school will either save summer students money or cause them to pay up to 60 percent more.

In recent years, summer students, who generally are those working part time toward a law degree, have paid a flat fee of $4,500 for courses, regardless of how many hours they sign up for. The new policy, which students were notified of last week, gets rid of the flat fee and instead charges $1,200 for each credit hour.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon Beset by dwindling enrollment, cuts in government funding and free competition, the Nursery Foundation will shut down its long-time pre-school program in the Central West End on Thursday.

Founded in 1946 as one of the first integrated nursery schools in the St. Louis area, it had seen dwindling enrollment in recent years, from a peak of close to 100 two years ago down to just more than half of that in recent weeks.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Peter Downs served on the St. Louis school board for just a short time, in 2006-07, but what he saw gave him a pretty good picture of what he thinks is wrong with public education in general and the city schools in particular.

He’s put his thoughts down in a new book, “Schoolhouse Shams," that discusses situations familiar to anyone who has followed the fortunes of the city schools in recent years. But he also has views that may be surprising.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The East St. Louis schools, in chronic financial straits, need $9 million to finish out the year and meet their payroll.

Despite the state’s tight financial situation, the Illinois legislature approved the money, leaving the final say up to the state board of education.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Illinois state Board of Education Wednesday tabled a move to provide $9 million in emergency state funds to the East St. Louis school district.

The money, which has already been approved by the state legislature, was originally part of the consent agenda for the board's meeting in Belleville. But it was pulled from that larger group of items so the board could discuss it separately in closed session.

Then, unexpectedly, the board decided to table the issue without a vote.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Swayed not so much by passion as by a plan and a pledge to increase enrollment, St. Louis school Superintendent Kelvin Adams has spared Cleveland NJROTC from threatened closure.

Backtracking on a recommendation made last month – and after a similar threatened closure of the school a few years ago – Adams said that Cleveland will work to establish partnerships with several middle schools, including one charter, to boost the number of students who sign up.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Illinois state Board of Education Wednesday tabled a move to provide $9 million in emergency state funds to the East St. Louis school district.

The money, which has already been approved by the state legislature, was originally part of the consent agenda for the board's meeting in Belleville. But it was pulled from that larger group of items so the board could discuss it separately in closed session.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: If students get grades in school, should the schools get grades as well?

That’s the theory behind legislation that has been passed by the Missouri House but has received a mixed reception from education groups in the state.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When my wife and I found out we were having a baby, we began looking for pediatricians. We wanted the best doctor; and because we had choices, we were able to find a pediatrician we loved. In almost every area of our lives, we have choices, but many families do not have options regarding where their children are educated.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: State Sen. John Lamping says he isn’t necessarily against the content of education standards that he is trying to block Missouri from adopting as other states proceed with them. He’s more concerned with the way the state decided to join the crowd.

And the freshman Republican from Ladue doesn’t even think his bill to prohibit the state from the putting the new standards into place will pass the General Assembly.

But he’s glad it has stirred conversation that he says is long overdue.

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