Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

One year ago this week the University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia was in turmoil.

University of Missouri System president Tim Wolfe abruptly announced his resignation Nov. 9 as his leadership and handling of issues of race were strongly criticized. Several hours later, R. Bowen Loftin said he would be leaving his post as chancellor of the system's Columbia campus to coordinate university research.

Hank Foley was then moved from research  work for the system and the Columbia campus to become interim chancellor at Mizzou..

Mun Y. Choi, who comes to Missouri from the University of Connecticut, comes nearly a year after his predecessor, Tim Wolfe stepped down after demands from students who led protests on the Columbia campus.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated Nov. 3 with salary details – Incoming University of Missouri System President Mun Choi will make more money than his two predecessors.

The university system released details of Choi's contract Thursday, which show he'll earn a base salary of $530,000 a year.  The contract period runs from March 1, 2017, through June 30, 2022.

SLU's new version of its Billiken mascot as of September 2016
Bill Barrett | provided by SLU

Stung by the negative reception given its recent revamping of the Billiken mascot, Saint Louis University wants public input for a do-over.

SLU President Fred Pestello resorted to his favorite communication channel, Twitter, on Tuesday in a politically themed presentation titled "Decision 2016." It directs anyone interested in helping to shape Billiken 3.0 to an online poll to give views on the color, eyes, hairdo and other features on the upcoming revision.

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

While state education officials try to work around obstacles that have blocked efforts to move control of the St. Louis Public Schools back to an elected board, talks on the issue have been suspended until January at the earliest.

And with school board elections set for April, the balloting could take on additional significance.

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
File: Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 31 at 3:05 p.m. with background — Nearly one year after former President Tim Wolfe stepped down amid racial unrest in Columbia, the University of Missouri system plans to introduce his successor on Wednesday.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the new president will be Mun Y. Choi, the provost at the University of Connecticut.

Unlike the university’s last two presidents, Wolfe and Gary Forsee, Choi comes to the University of Missouri from an academic background.

He joined the mechanical engineering department at Connecticut in 2008, after serving on the faculty at the University of Illinois from 1994 to 2000 and at Drexel University starting in 2000. He received his B.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1987 and M.A. and Ph.D. in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University.

A person filling in a standardized test bubble sheet with a pencil.
Flickr | Alberto G.

The Illinois State Board of Education has released its 2016 report cards analyzing how well the state’s public schools are educating its students.

Results from the second year using the standardized test known as PARCC continue to paint a dismal picture: more than 60 percent of students failed to meet state benchmarks in math and English.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Consider a student who may be weary of strict academic lectures and wants to see where all of this classroom learning is going to fit into the real world.

Then consider a business owner who wants to find new ideas and new energy but isn’t sure where to look.

A new cooperative program between Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and Madison County hopes to match the expertise of academia with the needs of business and the community to make all sides stronger and more successful.

A person filling in a standardized test bubble sheet with a pencil.
Flickr | Alberto G.

Three more Missouri school districts scored in the provisional accreditation range and one additional charter school scored in the unaccredited range in this year’s preliminary data compared with last year, the state school board was told Tuesday.

As with last year, just one district scored in the unaccredited range, with less than 50 percent of the points possible. But because the annual performance reports (APR) for individual districts will not be available until Nov. 7, no districts were identified by name.

food waste photo from Mizzou video
University of Missouri-Columbia

You have leftover French fries on one plate and leftover beef ravioli on another.

Sure, it’s not the most balanced meal, but that’s not your concern. What you want  to figure out is this: Which will have the bigger impact on the environment when you toss it into the trash? And how can that impact be reduced?

Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 21 with email from principal on investigation into the incident Earlier this week, Kirkwood High School families and community members received an email from head principal Michael Havener, explaining the conclusion of an investigation into an apparent use of blackface on campus earlier that month. The letter challenges the students who called out the incident.

College of St. Louis community college meramec, umsl and washington university
St. Louis Public Radio file photos

As faculty members at the University of Missouri-St. Louis continue talking about forming a union, part-time teachers at Washington University are working under the first semester of their union contract.

And though some Washington U. adjuncts have questions about how much benefit the union will actually provide, organizers say the contract is working well, though they acknowledge that a period of adjustment is normal when conditions change.

Voting booths
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

The Ferguson-Florissant School District wants a federal judge to approve an election system he ruled unconstitutional in August because it diluted the power of black voters.

Despite that ruling, Ferguson-Florissant attorney Cindy Ormsby said there’s still a possibility that the judge will decide the original at-large system is best.

students try out a voting machine in Jennings
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Just because they’re too young to vote doesn’t mean that students at Jennings Junior High lack strong opinions about the presidential candidates.

At an assembly held at the district’s high school Tuesday, the students got to take part in a town-hall style mock debate, then cast ballots at a real electronic voting machine — if their credentials weren’t turned away.

Parent educator MacKenzie Grayson gets acquainted with a mother and her daughter who live in the Normandy School District. (Oct. 16, 2016)
Provided | Parents as Teachers

Parents as Teachers is launching its national conference in St. Louis Monday with a forum on how to serve families who’ve experienced trauma.

Parent educators who work in communities where families are more likely to be traumatized by violence or stressed by living paycheck to paycheck are spending the day sharing best practices they’ve learned in the field.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discussed the occurrence earlier this month of a white Kirkwood High School student who appeared in school with a black substance on his face.

derekGavey | Flickr

Missouri school districts need to tighten controls over student data and other information to help ensure they do not fall into the wrong hands for the wrong purpose, a state audit said Thursday.

Using information she gleaned earlier this year from audits on five districts, including Orchard Farm in St. Charles County, state Auditor Nicole Galloway said schools need to pay more attention to cybersecurity in several areas including who has access to the information and what needs to be done when a breach is discovered.

A high school sign.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

When a black student tells a white principal in a predominantly white school that another student’s behavior is racist, how should the principal respond?

That question came into focus at Kirkwood High School last week, when a white student left a chemistry class with charcoal covering his face.

Principal Michael Havener said the student meant to mimic a beard. But because the student had smeared his entire face, it looked more blackface to Kirkwood freshman Kiden Smith and her friends.

(via Flickr/Adam Procter)

After lengthy fly-in sessions in St. Louis and Kansas City to meet prospective candidates and narrow the list, the head of the University of Missouri Board of Curators will say only that the search for a new system president “is going well.”

Pam Henrickson refrained from giving any more specific information after the curators met at the university’s Kansas City campus on Friday.

FAFSA October graphic
Ashland CTC | Flickr

For the first time, high school seniors can apply for federal student aid at the same time they apply for college.

Instead of opening the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in January as usual, the U.S. Department of Education started accepting FAFSA Oct. 1 using last year’s tax returns.

Local organizations working to boost the number of first generation and low-income St. Louisans enrolled in college say the new timeline could be a game changer.

Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

As Washington University gets ready to host the second presidential debate on Sunday night, 18 of the school's freshmen are not only learning about how the face-offs affect who will win the White House. They’re also excited to cast their first presidential ballots.

In class, history Professor Peter Kastor and his students engage in lively debates themselves, about how the candidate sessions shape the election. And, Kastor said, they have many questions for him.

The new Billiken mascot introduced in September 2016.
Bill Barrett/provided by SLU

The new Saint Louis University mascot is turning out to be a lot like New Coke.

After the revamped Billiken was introduced last month to a barrage of criticism, with adjectives like “petrifying,” “terrifying” and “the laughing stock of the nation,” SLU President Fred Pestello took to Twitter Tuesday to hint broadly that the new Billiken is in for big changes.

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

This a preview of an upcoming episode of St. Louis Public Radio’s We Live Here, a podcast that explores race, class, power and poverty in the St. Louis region and beyond. Listen to the full version here

Black students in Missouri and the rest of the country are far more likely to receive out of school suspensions. And this school year St. Louis Public Schools became one of the few districts in the nation to ban out-of-school suspensions for its youngest students. 

Officials say the move has pushed them to rethink student discipline. 

Ferguson resident Shirlissa Pruitt asks about keeping more resources in her part of the school district  at a town hall meeting on Thursday. Sept. 22, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Sept. 29 with the plaintiff’s choice — The American Civil Liberties Union and the Missouri NAACP are asking the judge in their ongoing voting rights case to consider changing Ferguson-Florissant School Board elections to a cumulative voting system.

Cumulative voting allows a voter to cast multiple votes for the same candidate. For instance, if three slots on the school board are open but a voter only likes one candidate, he or she can cast up to three votes for the same candidate.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon said he is optimistic the district will return to provisional accreditation, following a recommendation from the state department of elementary and secondary education board on Nov. 23, 2016.
Kimberly Ney | Riverview Gardens School District

Updated at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 30 with information on charters and standout districts — Superintendents of Missouri’s only two unaccredited school districts say the latest standardized test scores show their students are improving.

But state school officials caution that because the tests taken in the spring were from a different source from those taken the year before, year-to-year comparisons aren’t really valid, so there is no good way to truly gauge how much progress students have made.

Still, the superintendents in Normandy and Riverview Gardens are pleased.

University of Missouri students protest a series of racist incidents on the Columbia campus in this photo from Nov. 9, 2015.
Bram Sable-Smith | KBIA

The University of Missouri is investigating a report by two black female students who said other students yelled racial slurs at them on its Columbia campus.

Darnetta Clinkscale, left, joins Rick Sullivan and Richard Gaines (right) on the SAB board for her first meeting Sept. 26, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

​Updated 9 p.m. Sept. 26 with comment from Clinkscale  Darnetta Clinkscale, a former member of the elected board for the St. Louis Public Schools, is now a member of the three-member appointed board that has run the district since 2007.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay on Monday named Clinkscale to the post on the Special Administrative Board. She replaces Melanie Adams,  who resigned because she has accepted a job in St. Paul, Minn. 

Courtesy of the University of Missouri-St. Louis

The effort to unionize faculty at the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus has generated a lively online discussion on both sides of the issue.

After success in its drives to organize part-time faculty members at Washington University, Saint Louis University, St. Louis Community College and St. Charles Community College, the Service Employees International Union is taking the move one step further and trying to enlist all members of the UMSL faculty.

SLU's new version of its Billiken mascot as of September 2016
Bill Barrett | provided by SLU

Saint Louis University wanted its new Billiken mascot to be a little edgier, but based on reaction after it was introduced earlier this week, the school may have fallen over the edge.

Comments on Facebook, numbering more than 600 by Thursday morning, were overwhelmingly negative, starting with a mild “This is not ok” and going swiftly downhill from there. Signatures on an online petition calling on SLU President Fred Pestello to bring back the older, cuddlier version rose quickly past 1,500.

An "out of order" sign hangs from the pipes of a water fountain at Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

University City School District spokeswoman Pat Washington said Wednesday that after testing every drinking source in every district building, two water fountains at University City High School and one sink each at Brittany Woods Middle School, Flynn Park Elementary Barbara C. Jordan Elementary and the McNair Administration Center have been shut off because they tested higher for lead than the Environmental Protection Agency’s benchmark of 15 parts per billion.

A person filling in a standardized test bubble sheet with a pencil.
Flickr | Alberto G.

Students from low-income students in Missouri and Illinois will be getting money from Washington to help pay for taking Advanced Placement tests.

Under a program announced Tuesday by the federal Department of Education,  a total of $28.4 million will go to 41 states and the District of Columbia to help defray the costs of taking tests that can lead to students getting college credit for high school courses.

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