Education

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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.

Educator Brian Schultz of Independence testified about social studies standards before the state board of education.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

JEFFERSON CITY – Proposed school standards for Missouri are designed to make students more active learners, rather than just memorizing rote facts, writers of the standards told members of the state board of education Monday.

Angie Muse, Hazelwood school district
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

After lawmakers decreed that Missouri drop the Common Core school standards and instead come up with a more local version, task forces worked for more than a year to come up with a new blueprint for what the state’s students should know.

But to Angie Muse, an instructional coach in the Hazelwood school district, the revised standards don’t change much, at least for the English courses she has been involved with for 20 years.

Kimberly Ney | Riverview Gardens School District

For three of the St. Louis area's low-performing school districts, this year's Annual Performance Review showed marked improvement. But the success has not been even across the board.

While St. Louis Public Schools' score takes it out of the provisionally accredited zone and Riverview Gardens' improvements could be the first step toward regaining its accredited status, Normandy School District is still below the margin. The key to these districts' successes isn't universal.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

Struggling school districts in the St. Louis area got some welcome good news with this year’s annual report card from the state.

Riverview Gardens, Jennings and St. Louis Public Schools all posted scores that would put them into the fully accredited range, with more than 70 percent of the 140 points possible on the Annual Performance Report (APR).

Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Miriam School, Miriam Learning Center and Miriam Switching Post all exist to serve a singular purpose: helping to educate children with complex learning disabilities. On Thursday, a student, parent and the head of school joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh in discussing raising a child with a learning disability.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/16947572566/in/photolist-rPAJT1-aj8f9w-9kqYcW-91oWcA-bjwcHR-6WZont-8XesxG-7CGFTw-bpYAaN-9ruCp8-7v9UMe-9cTTjT-99chM8-boBk3y-dsfCka-7WhFzb-9fGQN3-9tQQmC-8xR2GR-9v6F5E-a8KhrE-84EkLU-aD5BnN-8S9UNm-6rzpPX-8NG1mx-6UpmQH-9
Quinn Dombrowski, Flickr, Creative Commons

Nationwide, there are more expulsions in preschool than any other grade level.

In Missouri, one out of every 10 preschool-age children is expelled. Deeper into that statistic, African American boys are three times more likely to be expelled than other children in preschool.

William Campbell brought his granddaughter Serenity McKenney, left, and son Xavier Miller to church Oct. 18, 2015. Both children are out of school while their teachers are on strike in East St. Louis.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

School is canceled for a 12th day in East St. Louis Monday, as a teacher strike that began on Oct. 1 appears no closer to a resolution.

This leaves more than 6,000 students at loose ends. At New Life Community Church in East St. Louis Sunday, parents and students affected by the strike said they’re ready for school to be back in session.

Dr. Ed Hogan of the St. Louis Archdiocese said he believes there is a "false" contradiction between faith-based and scientific beliefs, a theme similarly depicted in this Tiffany stained glass window located at Yale University.
Ragesoss | Wikimedia Commons

A professor at a St. Louis-area Catholic seminary is one of 15 people across the country to win a $10,000 grant to develop science courses for future priests.

A crowd of teachers and supporters picket outside East St. Louis School District 189's administrative offices Thurs. Oct. 1, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 15, 3:04 p.m. -- Another negotiating session that lasted just one hour Thursday failed to reach an agreement to end the teachers strike in East St. Louis. 

The teachers union and the district have met several times with a federal mediator to try to end the walkout that has canceled classes since Oct. 1 for more than 6,000 students.

File photo

It’s not just a change of names and grades that has made the Normandy 7th and 8th grade center a calmer place this year.

What used to be Normandy Middle School now has just two grades, with sixth graders returning to the district’s elementary schools. At a community forum held at the school Wednesday night, the consensus was that a school that had been in the news last year for a host of disciplinary problems has calmed down a lot.

Jameela Tidwell (left) and Molicia Hammond dissect a from Tues. Oct. 6, 2015 in the Upward Bound program at SIUE's East St. Louis Center. Both are sophomores at East St. Louis Senior High.
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville | provided

Thursday marked the sixth school day with no class for the more than 6,000 students in East St. Louis School District 189 as teachers continue to strike. Contract negotiations between the district and the teachers' union appear to have hit a stand-still.

Since the strike began, six community centers with after-school programming have extended their hours and opened their enrollment to all students in the district.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

Groups that have been meeting for the past year to come up with new standards for Missouri schools have turned their homework in to state education officials.

Where those standards go from here is the next big test.

With class canceled due to a teacher strike, East St. Louis students spend school hours outside district offices Thurs. Oct. 1, 2015.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated Thursday, Oct. 1,  2015

School is canceled Thursday for 6,000 students in East St. Louis as teachers walk the picket line. About 400 union teachers and staff members went on strike at 7 a.m.

East St. Louis School District 189 spokeswoman Kelli Hawkins said Wednesday the superintendent is hopeful teachers will meet Thursday and reconsider the district’s contract offer. The district’s 400 union teachers rejected it Tuesday before voting to go on strike.

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