Education

From event poster

Emily Colmo knows a whole lot more about sunflowers today than she did three months ago. Back then, she began her sunflower journey in distressed parts of St. Louis, where vacant land has been planted with these tall and vivid flowers. Colmo came to discover the importance of increasing our levels of environmental sustainability and our responsibility for distressed and decaying areas of all sorts. Now, she's ready to show all of us what she's learned through a documentary.

A dance class at Grand Center Arts Academy
Grand Center Arts Academy website

Updated at 11:38 a.m. Dec. 18 with certification of vote: The vote by teachers at Grand Center Arts Academy to become the first faculty of a charter school in Missouri to join a union has been certified by the school's operator.

The board of Confluence Academies, which operates the school along with four other charters in St. Louis, said in a statement Friday that it certified the vote in a meeting on Thursday. It said that of 59 votes cast, 54 were in favor of the union and five were against.

Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:48 p.m. Friday, with reaction from Harris-Stowe: For the second time in recent weeks, former employees at Harris-Stowe University have won seven-figure discrimination verdicts against the school.

In the latest case, a St. Louis Circuit Court jury this week ordered the payment of  $750,000 in actual damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages to Shereen AbdelKader, an Egyptian native whose contract as an assistant professor of education was not renewed in 2010.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

This year, Springboard, an education non-profit in the St. Louis area, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The organization helps children develop critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication through the arts, science and humanities. Their services reach 55,000 children in the St. Louis region annually. About 72 percent of schools they serve have economically disadvantaged student populations.

Jennings Schools
Dale SInger | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:50 p.m.: JEFFERSON CITY – The Jennings School District’s steady improvement in recent years was rewarded Tuesday when the state board of education granted it full accreditation. But requests for upgrades by the St. Louis Public Schools and Riverview Gardens were put on hold.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

Three school districts that have been crowing about their latest state report card after years of struggle could find out soon whether they will be rewarded with an upgrade in their accreditation status.

For schools in Jennings and St. Louis, the change would be from provisional accreditation to full accreditation. For Riverview Gardens, which is now one of two unaccredited districts in Missouri, a move up to provisional accreditation could get the district out from under the financial burden of student transfers now in its third year.

Remko van Dokkum | Flickr

The Affton School District has joined a growing movement to reboot the way textbooks are used in classrooms. The south St. Louis County district is one of 10 school systems across the country that are taking part in the U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen campaign to develop best practices around using free, open-source digital textbooks.   

A large crowd gathers at the clocktower on the campus of Saint Louis University.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University is getting pushback over how long it is taking to meet diversity goals agreed to by President Fred Pestello and student protesters last year. 

school buses
Flickr

Every school day, bright yellow buses transport thousands of students to class – some traveling across long distances to districts far from their homes,  most others staying within a district’s boundaries, whether it is compact like Ladue or sprawling like Parkway or Rockwood.

And that doesn’t count homeless students or others whose route is so specialized that their transportation is by taxi, just one or two at a time.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The importance of early childhood care and education is at the forefront of regional leaders’ minds once more as the St. Louis Early Childhood Council presents a program on such matters for the St. Louis region. So where does Missouri stand in providing the most early childhood options possible?

LaVell Monger
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

As president of the Associated Black Collegians at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, LaVell Monger is well versed on issues facing minorities on campus.

But when the recent furor erupted over the president of the University of Missouri system, Monger admits the name Tim Wolfe didn’t exactly ring a bell.

Richard Ryffel, head of the appointed Normandy school board, listens to a small group discussion at the district's public hearing.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

State education officials praised the Normandy school district Thursday night for the progress it has made over the past year.

Then the superintendent asked for ways the district could move even faster toward its goal of accreditation.

Michael Middleton
Courtesy University of Missouri Columbia

Updated at 2:10 p.m. Nov. 12 with official announcement, news conference: Mike Middleton, a deputy chancellor emeritus at Mizzou with a long history on the campus as a student, professor and administrator, was named Thursday as interim president of the University of Missouri system.

Photos provided

For many former students of the University of Missouri-Columbia, events of recent weeks bring back memories. Some are good, but many are not. For those alums, racial bias has always been part of the sub-text of their Mizzou experience.

And while some alumni welcome announcements this week that Tim Wolfe, president of the University System, is leaving, and R. Bowen Loftin, chancellor of the Columbia campus, is changing jobs, others question whether those actions alone will be enough to solve long-standing problems.

A dance class at Grand Center Arts Academy
Grand Center Arts Academy website

Updated at 11:10 a.m. Nov. 11 with details of the upcoming election: 

Teachers at Grand Center Arts Academy will vote Dec. 4 on whether to become the first faculty members at a charter school to join a union.

The faculty first announced in September that they wanted to join the American Federation of Teachers,. Since then, have dealt with the board of Confluence Academies, which operates the arts academy and four other charters in St. Louis.

University of Missouri-Columbia

The University of Missouri-Columbia moved quickly Tuesday to fill of its promises in the wake of the departure of its chancellor and the university system’s president.

But the new interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity cautioned that the goals of his position can’t be reached as swiftly as his appointment was made. Chuck Henson, who has been an associate dean at the law school at Mizzou, said change is possible, but it will take time.

When Tim Wolfe was being interviewed as a candidate to be president of the University of Missouri system four years ago, curator Wayne Goode of Normandy was wary of hiring a businessman to head the four-campus system.

But after Wolfe resigned Monday in the wake of growing protests over racial incidents at the university’s flagship campus in Columbia, Goode said he not only was won over by Wolfe’s management of the system, he worries about being able to recruit suitable candidates to replace him.

A large crowd gathers at the clocktower on the campus of Saint Louis University.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-area student activists said University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe’s resignation has re-energized the student protest movement that sprang up around Ferguson a year ago.

Mizzou students’ demands for a more diverse and inclusive campus are similar to those made by St. Louis student activists.

Saint Louis University junior Jonathan Pulphus said Wolfe’s resignation proves that students' actions can change systems.

Tim Wolfe delivers a statement on Nov. 9 announcing that he will resign.
UM System YouTube Screen Capture

Updated at 5 p.m. with news of Loftin's resignation - University of Missouri System president Tim Wolfe abruptly announced his resignation Monday morning amid strong criticism of his leadership in handling issues of race. 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.

As a counselor helping students find the right college, first in Clayton and then at Metro High School in St. Louis, Chat Leonard has an unusual perspective on the bumps that can litter the road to higher education.

Both schools, she said, have bright, energetic, motivated students who have been preparing to go to college “since they were in utero.” But at Metro, a magnet school where almost 40 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, aiming to get into the best school possible may have a fuzzier focus than at a place like Clayton, where many more of the families are affluent.

UM System President Responds to Protests

Nov 8, 2015
University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 29, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

KBIA, Columbia, Mo. - There was a rush of local and national media attention Sunday after the students of color on the Mizzou Tigers Football team’s Saturday announcement that they would not take part in any “football related activities” until University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe either resigned or was removed from office due to his “negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences.”

About 30 University of Missouri football players have said they will not play another game until university system President Tim Wolfe steps down.

The football players said that they were standing in solidarity with the Concerned Student 1950 movement, which has for months now called on the university to seriously address systemic racism on campus.

The team tweeted a picture of the student athletes linking arms. "We are no longer taking it," the tweet said. "It's time to fight."

Alton school board finance committee director Chris Norman said though negotiations went long, a teachers strike would have still been weeks away.
Courtesy Alton Community School District #11 Facebook

A teachers strike in the Alton School District has likely been averted, and a new two-year contract for teachers is one step closer to being approved.

At a special meeting Friday morning, the school board's finance committee tentatively approved a counter proposal from the Alton Education Association, which is representing district teachers.

The University of Missouri Department of English sent a letter to the UM Board of Curators and UM System President Tim Wolfe Wednesday morning informing them of the department's unanimous vote of no confidence in MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Smartphones, tablets, computers at home, computers at school, computers at the library, augmented reality, video games…the list of new platforms that children have available to engage with goes on for miles. Although the platforms for media consumption may be shiny and new, that doesn’t exactly change the way parents should approach media exposure for their children.

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

Updated at 3:17 p.m. Nov. 2, with reaction: Just four months after announcing the creation of a new School of Public Policy and Administration, the University of Missouri-St. Louis has abruptly decided to dissolve the school because of budget problems.

Word came early Monday from Provost Glen Cope in a campus-wide email, hours before a candidate for permanent dean of the school was to be interviewed.

St. Louis Community College at Meramec
STLCC website

Updated at 7:43 p.m., Nov. 1, with results of vote: ​Part-time instructors at St. Louis Community College have voted overwhelmingly to join a union.

Jonathan Huskey, a spokesman for the Service Employees International Union, reported Sunday night that two days of balloting over the weekend resulted in approval of the union proposition by a vote of 188-15. He said 574 adjunct instructors were eligible to vote in the election.

East St. Louis teachers walk out of their union hall after voting to approve a tentative contract agreement and end a month-long teacher strike Friday Oct. 30, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 20 to clarify the city's current budget deficit. Updated at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 with vote results: Class will be back in session on Monday for the 6,000 students enrolled in East St. Louis public schools.

A teacher strike that began Oct. 1 is over after the school board and teacher union voted Friday to approve a new contract for the district's 400 teachers and professional staff.

Nine Network of Public Media

Updated 12:15 p.m., Nov. 5 with audio from the town hall—More than 100 educators, parents and students came together Wednesday, Oct. 28, to talk about the longstanding racial disparities in school suspensions in Missouri.

The state has grappled with the issue for several years, earning headlines in recent years for having the nation’s highest suspension rates.


Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon (center) talks with state board member John Martin (left) and deputy education commissioner Ron Lankford at the state school board meeting in October 2015.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

JEFFERSON CITY — The superintendents of schools in Riverview Gardens and Normandy earned praise Tuesday from members of the state board of education for their solid progress on the latest Missouri school report cards 

Now, board members say, the districts need to get more money to help the momentum continue.

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