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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.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon
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.
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.

Kameel Stanley / St. Louis Public Radio

Immigration advocates say some colleges and universities in Missouri are discriminating against undocumented students by charging them higher tuition. 

Students and organizers rallied Monday outside St. Louis Community College’s downtown office, demanding officials reverse course. 


Organizer David Nehrt-Flores, of Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates, said technically the schools don’t have to raise tuition, but are doing so because they are worried about state funding.


Gov. Jay Nixon says legislators blew their chance to have a say on bonding for a stadium in St. Louis.
File photo by Bill Greenblatt I UPI

Flanked by the heads of two-year and four-year colleges and universities, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced Monday in Jefferson City that the heads of Missouri's higher education institutions have agreed to freeze tuition for the 2016-2017 school year. He then said he was proposing a $55.7 million increase in higher education performance funds for the 2017 fiscal year.

This is the fourth time since 2009 that the governor paired a tuition freeze with a boost in higher education funding.

Washington University

Updated 6:59 p.m., Sept. 21, with McCaskill comment: New research about sexual assault on college campuses shows Washington University in somewhat better shape than its peer institutions, but officials at the school admit they still have a lot more work to do to prevent problems for students.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

From student suspensions to dirty cafeteria tables, concerns and complaints by parents and others in the Normandy school district were the topic of conversation at the district’s first community forum of the new school year Wednesday night.

Several dozen people gathered at Normandy High School for a 45-minute session where eight people spoke. The forums are designed to replace the opportunity for the public to make comments at meetings of the district’s appointed school board.

University of Missouri-Columbia

Updated 1:22 p.m., Sept. 16 with audio from "St. Louis on the Air" - R. Bowen Loftin found that a lot of things were the same when he moved from the top job at Texas A&M to become chancellor of the University of Missouri-Columbia last year, but he did have to make one big change.

Instead of greeting his Aggie crowd with a hearty “Howdy!” he learned to get a big response at Mizzou with three simple letters: “M-I-Z”.

St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Saint Louis University’s School of Education is launching a new teacher training program this week that’s specifically designed for urban education.

The Urban Education Learning Collaborative is small, for now. Just six students will work intensely in the Jennings School District for the next two years.  But Saint Louis University Education Professor, Alex Cuenca, said the hope is to expand to 40 students who will spend all four years working in the same urban school. 

St. Louis educator Julie Smith joined "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh to talk about her new book on media literacy.
Alex Heuer

Earlier this week President Barack Obama announced his decision to change the name of North America’s tallest peak from Mt. McKinley to Denali, the native Alaskan name.

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

Teachers at the Grand Center Arts Academy charter school have begun the unionization process that could end with their being represented by the American Federation of Teachers.


Lost learning time often means lost potential.

That’s the message from a new national report from nonprofits Attendance Works and Healthy Schools Campaign. 

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Pastor Willis Johnson of Wellspring Church led fourth graders at Koch Elementary in an affirmation.  

“I am somebody!” Johnson exclaimed.

“I am somebody!” students replied.  

Johnson was there to hand out teddy bears donated by Build-A-Bear and books from the American Federation of Teachers. The effort was organized by his church’s Center for Social Empowerment and Justice, which was launched to support local business and schools in the Ferguson area.

File photo

Normandy school officials hope disappointing test scores from last year don’t dampen the enthusiasm they’re seeing for improvement in the school year just begun.

Presenting the district’s latest MAP scores – the first report since it became the Normandy Schools Collaborative, run by a state-appointed board – Superintendent Charles Pearson acknowledged to board members Thursday night that “these are not high scores to say the least.”

Field of students at a graduation
j.o.h.n. walker | Flickr

A four-year pilot initiative in Quincy hopes to develop a pipeline of skilled workers to fill technical jobs at local businesses.

Harris-Stowe State University president Dwaun Warmack joined "St. Louis on the Air" as part of its series on regional institutions of higher education.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Dwaun Warmack became president of Harris-Stowe State University in July 2014. Calling himself a “change agent,” Warmack told “St. Louis on the Air” last November that his first focus was on assessment: understanding the university he meant to guide.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

The debate over school choice touches on complex questions of individual merit, public responsibility, and the oft-cited ‘right’ to a good education. It also touches close to home.

teacher in classroom
U.S. Department of Education

To get an idea about how difficult it can be to interpret test score data when it comes to charter schools, consider Lafayette Preparatory Academy, just west of downtown.