Education

Tiffany Anderson appears before the state board of education in Jefferson City Tuesday.
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Updated at 11:33 a.m. with testimony at board meeting:

Riding the crest of improvement on the state’s annual evaluation, Jennings Superintendent Tiffany Anderson sees full accreditation and further gains in the future for the north St. Louis County district.

And Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon, whose district is now the only one in Missouri that is unaccredited, says his staff have laid the foundation for classroom success.   

President Barack Obama’s proposal to provide free community college tuition for some students who meet certain standards won praise from some educators, but skeptics wondered whether it was the best way for tax dollars to be spent on education.

Obama announced the proposal Friday during a visit to a community college in Knoxville, Tenn., a state with a plan that is similar to what the president is expected to announce in greater detail in his State of the Union address later this month.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
Washington University

Now that adjunct instructors at Washington University have voted to join a union, they have to figure out exactly what improvements they want their new status to bring.

On Monday, the National Labor Relations Board announced the election results. The proposal to join the Service Employees International Union won by a vote of 138-111. Afterward, the union’s Adjunct Action project sent out an email headed “Victory!”

Washington University's Brookings Hall
(via Flickr/Washington University/with permission)

Part-time faculty members at Washington University have voted to unionize in an effort to improve their salary, working conditions and stability of employment.

Ballots counted at the National Labor Relations Board Monday showed the proposal passed by a vote of 138-111, with 18 contested ballots that would not affect the outcome of the election. Just over 400 instructors at the university were eligible to vote, with a simple majority of those voting needed for passage.

Courtesy St. Louis Public Schools

Members of the Special Administrative Board (SAB) for St. Louis Public Schools — which has overseen the district since it lost state accreditation in 2007 — are meeting to develop a plan for returning authority over the district to the disempowered, elected board.  

The first meeting is being held this evening and will be a closed session to discuss legal and legislative issues related to transitioning authority.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
Washington University

As part-time instructors at Washington University ponder whether to join a union, two major questions have arisen about the campaign.

A new program at St. Louis County Library will give as many as 8,000 babies born in 2015 books to encourage early childhood literacy.
June Hymas, via Flickr

A new program aimed at promoting early childhood literacy is giving free books to newborns, starting in January.

Through its "Born to Read" program, St. Louis County Library plans to give the new parents of as many as 8,000 babies born at four participating hospitals in 2015 a gift bag, including: a board book, a bath toy, a milestone marker describing where children should be developmentally, instructions on how to get a library card,  and a calendar of literacy activities. 

Lowell Kruse
Department of Higher Education

Like a beginning freshman plotting out college courses so she can have a marketable degree four years down the road, the Missouri Department of Higher Education is embarking on a new planning process to make sure students leave campus with skills to help the state – and themselves -- move ahead.

But when the plan is finished, the final exam question will be this: Will its recommendations actually be used on the state’s campuses?

School Segregation, The Continuing Tragedy Of Ferguson

Dec 22, 2014
Whitney Curtis | For ProPublica

Michael Brown beat the odds by graduating from high school before his death — odds that remain stacked against black students in St. Louis and the rest of the country.

On August 1, five black students in satiny green and red robes and mortar boards waited inside an elementary school classroom, listening for their names to be called as graduates of Normandy High School. The ceremony was held months after the school’s main graduation for students who had been short of credits or had opted not to participate earlier.

comedy nose | Flickr

By April 2013, the latest state data showed the number of homeless students in St. Louis Public Schools had doubled over the past three school years.

At the time, Deidre Thomas-Murray, the coordinator of students in transition, described what these numbers look like in practice.  

The Normandy Schools Collaborative has hired Diana Bourisaw, former superintendent for the St. Louis Public Schools and the Fox School district, for a six-month consulting contract to help improve the district’s lagging academic performance.

Margie Vandeven
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

(Updated at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 17, with news conference)

Margie Vandeven may be Missouri’s new commissioner for elementary and secondary education, but she’ll enter the job at the first of the year concentrating on some old problems.

One of them, she told reporters in a conference call Wednesday after her unanimous selection by the state board of education, is working for changes in Missouri’s student transfer law, to help protect the budgets of districts whose students are eligible to leave.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, spent Tuesday listening to St. Louis area students’ thoughts on race, equity and trust following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown.

It’s a day Duncan said he’ll never forget.

“The division between young people and the police is huge,” Duncan said. “The division along race in this community is huge. The division along educational opportunity being based on where you live, your zip code, is huge. The inequities are huge.”

Missouri Charter Public School Commission holds its organizational meeting on Dec. 16, 2014.  Alicia Herald (back row, right) was elected commission chair.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri's recently formed Charter Public School Commission is preparing to begin operations next year.

Mike Jones talks with education commissioner Chris Nicastro.
File photo: Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

When Chris Nicastro was chosen as Missouri’s education commissioner in 2009, her experience with school districts in north St. Louis County was cited as a big factor.

Now, as the Missouri state board of education prepares to interview five finalists to succeed Nicastro, they have a list of four white men who have been superintendents in Joplin, Branson, Springfield and Wentzville, plus a white woman who has been actively involved in north county as deputy commissioner but has never served as a superintendent.

As a deadline approaches for approval of the sale of Normandie Golf Course to the University of Missouri-St. Louis, those who are worried about the land disappearing as a place for duffers to enjoy hope the university will keep a pledge to save the course.

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

While the University of Missouri-St. Louis is experiencing a hiring freeze because of a projected lack of enrollment for the spring semester, it isn’t just sitting back and accepting the situation.

Chancellor Tom George said Thursday that about 600 students who were expected to enroll for next semester still had not signed up. The school is actively trying to figure out if they are just procrastinating or whether outside factors, such as the unsettled atmosphere in north St. Louis County following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, is prompting them to stay away.

File photo

Because of a projected drop in enrollment next semester after unrest in nearby Ferguson, the University of Missouri-St. Louis said Wednesday that it is instituting a hiring freeze, effective immediately.

In a message sent campus wide, Chancellor Tom George described “widespread anxiety about the region in general and north county in particular” that has had a consequence on area universities.

“Misplaced though it may be,” George added, “it is a perception affecting the community and UMSL.”

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Relatively speaking, not that many students take the Advanced Placement course in computer science.

Out of a little more than 2.3 million students for all subjects, fewer than 40,000 students took an exam for the course last year. While there was a slight uptick in the percentage of minority and female students, the data continue to show a jaw-dropping lack of racial and gender diversity.

Nationally, only 4 percent of all students who took the test were African American and just 20 percent were female.

St. Louis Public Schools

(Updated with interviews from all candidates.)

The Missouri state board of education has narrowed to five the field of candidates seeking to become the state’s next commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

After reviewing 12 applications in closed session Friday, the board announced Monday that it would interview:

Pages