Education

teacher in classroom
U.S. Department of Education

Missouri needs to strike a balance between making sure that all teachers are prepared to enter the classroom and that minorities and women are treated fairly by tests that certify them to teach.

That balance was a main topic of discussion Tuesday at a joint meeting in Columbia between the state Board of Education, which represents interests of K-12 school districts, and the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, which governs public colleges and universities in the state.

The Gender Unicorn graphic
Trans Student Educational Resources

As someone who has been disabled almost all her life, Amber Cheek knows how a seemingly kind word or helpful gesture from well-intentioned people can be subtly demeaning.

As the director of accessibility at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Cheek also knows that education and understanding can go a long way toward knowing the right words to say and bridging what she sees is often an information and generation gap.

Maryville University president Mark Lombardi joined host Don Marsh in studio.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Mark Lombardi, president of Maryville University, is eager to talk about change.

The first recent shift is this: enrollment at Maryville this fall tallies at 6,500 students, double the enrollment of eight years ago. “When the economy tanked in ’08 and ’09 and a lot of universities sort of circled the wagons…we sort of went out and started a massive recruitment effort outside,” he said, expanding the student body and increasing diversity with students from Texas, Colorado, and California.

(via Flickr/albertogp123)

As August approaches and the back-to-school mindset takes hold, schools and parents typically wonder how students did last year and what adjustments may be needed when classes resume.

For Missouri schools, some of those answers are delayed this year. Even when they are available, their meaning won’t be clear, and that uncertainty is likely to persist for many years to come.

Jeff Pittman, new chancellor of St. Louis Community College
STLCC

After more than 30 years with the statewide community college system in Indiana, Jeff Pittman is in his first month as chancellor of St. Louis Community College.

Pittman says he is happy to be back in a job that brings him into closer contact with students and campuses.

Beth Stroble
Alex Heuer

In September 2014, Webster University began celebrating its centennial year of providing higher education in the St. Louis region and across the world.

Beth Stroble, president of Webster University, said the institution is continuing to expand its reach. In January 2016, classes will begin at the Arcade Building in downtown St. Louis as part of the Gateway Campus. Currently, the downtown campus accommodates 500 students, with 500 more expected to enroll by next year.

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

Students who have lived in Missouri for nearly all of their lives and graduated from Missouri schools are no longer considered Missourians when it comes to the tuition they must pay at public colleges and universities.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

Wardrobe freedom could be ending for students at Normandy High School.

Under a proposal being presented to the district’s appointed board Thursday night, a dress code that has applied only to students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade would once again extend to high school students.

Webster University

If you need any more reason to be concerned about security of the global online system that runs everything from the financial world to the airlines to the federal government, consider these headlines from last week:

“Apocalypse Now?: NYSE, WSJ outages spook Twitter" 

“The Glitching Hour”

“Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s Time to Panic" 

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

The words to the Normandy High School fight song take on a different meaning in a new film by Terry Artis.

A 1982 graduate of the school and a former member of the school board of the unaccredited north St. Louis County district, Artis wrote, produced and directed “The Dismantling of the Normandy School District.”

A classroom inside of Eliiot Elementary. The sub-ceiling is down, paint is stripped off the walls, all the copper is out of the building and the alarm system’s been ripped out.
Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Virginia Savage can remember being a nervous fourth grader walking into Marshall Elementary for the first time in the Ville neighborhood in north St. Louis.    

“It was a great school to me,” Savage said. “And when it shut down, I was hurt.”

Left vacant for six years, the building now has vines crawling into the broken windows that fill Marshall's once stately facade. Savage lives nearby and sees something much worse than a crumbling building.     

“Drug dealers, drug users, eyesore. That’s what I see,” Savage said.

About 40 people rallied to save the former Incarnate Word convent on Sunday, April 19, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Bowing to protests from its north St. Louis County neighbors, the University of Missouri-St. Louis has backed away from plans to demolish the former Incarnate Word Academy convent on its campus.

Instead, UMSL said in a statement Monday, it plans to consider other options for the property over the next three to six months, although a spokesman added that the campus does not plan to spend any money on whatever project results from its study.

Saint Louis University President Fred Pestello addresses students at the university's Clock Tower last August after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Saint Louis University

When Fred Pestello began his tenure as Saint Louis University’s first lay president last July 1, anyone involved with the school may have said his biggest task would be reuniting the campus after a tumultuous time under the Rev. Lawrence Biondi.

File photo

Updated at 4:10 p.m. with Nixon news conference:

Gov. Jay Nixon said Friday he is vetoing this year’s attempt at a school transfer bill because it doesn’t solve the problems of unaccredited Missouri school districts and it creates new difficulties for public education.

Gov. Jay Nixon's criticism of the legislature was relatively low key. 5.15.15
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Updated at 9:30 am on Friday, June 6.   

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon plans to veto this year’s version of a school transfer bill, legislative sources said Thursday.

Gov. Jay Nixon announces a plan to help Normandy and Riverview Gardens schools. Behind him, at Bel-Nor school, are from left Normandy Superintendent Charles Pearson, Webster Groves Superintendent Sarah Riss and Missouri education Commissioner Margie Vande
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says school districts that have received transfer students from Normandy and Riverview Gardens will begin an unprecedented effort to help those schools in a variety of ways, from lowering the tuition they charge for transfers to providing training, tutors and other assistance.

Peter Herschend
DESE website

JEFFERSON CITY -- When Peter Herschend joined the Missouri state Board of Education in 1991, schools in the state were rated in three ways – A, AA or AAA.

But the rankings weren’t based on detailed accounts of how well students were doing in the classroom. Instead, Herschend noted in a recent interview, the factors that went into the classification ranged from salary structure to secretarial personnel to how many fire escapes the buildings had.

University City School District Superintendent Joylynn Pruitt (center), seen here at a district work session, will retire at the end of the 2015-2016 school year after nine years in the post.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

University City School District Superintendent Dr. Joylynn Pruitt will retire at the end of next school year, according to an announcement released Tuesday.

Pruitt has spent eight years so far at the head of the U. City schools, and said by the end of her ninth year, it will be time for someone else to take the district to the “next level.”

Tom George, Chancellor of UMSL
Alex Heuer

Despite a 10 percent decline in state funding since 2010, the University of Missouri-St. Louis continues to excel in offering top-tier educational opportunities for its students, UMSL Chancellor Tom George says.

He told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh that the university is undergoing a slew of capital constructions including:

Andrea Terhune
Normandy website

JEFFERSON CITY – One year after the Missouri state Board of Education dissolved the old Normandy School District and put an appointed board in place to run the new Normandy, state board members say a credibility gap still exists between Normandy residents and state education officials.

And that gap could grow, with the announcement Tuesday that the president of the appointed Joint Executive Governing Board, Andrea Terhune, is resigning for personal reasons. She is leaving the board as of July 6, education Commissioner Margie Vandeven told state board members.

Andrea Terhune
Normandy website

(Updated 2:51 p.m.)

JEFFERSON CITY — Andrea Terhune, president of the joint executive governing board for the Normandy schools, has resigned for personal reasons from the board effective July 6, announced Missouri's commissioner of education.  Margie Vandeven made the announcement during a discussion at a meeting of the state board of education about the progress the Normandy Schools Collaborative has made in the past year.

Alex Heuer

According to studies, minorities are the most underrepresented when it comes to careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, a STEM college preparatory school set to open in the fall of 2015, hopes to change the course of that statistic by preparing minority students for STEM careers while providing a single gender school setting.

Mary Stillman, the schools’ founder and executive director and a graduate of an all-girls school, decided to open the school after hearing about the success rate of an all-girls public school in New York.

Rhonda Broussard
St. Louis American

(From the St. Louis American, updated 4:30 p.m. Monday)

Shocking many parents and students, the St. Louis Language Immersion School Board of Directors announced Saturday that they have replaced school president Rhonda Broussard, who founded the charter school in 2009.

“This transition has been under consideration for some time,” wrote School Board President David Luckes in a letter to the school community. “The board and SLLIS’s extended community are grateful for the work Rhonda Broussard has done over the years to build SLLIS from the ground up.”

File photo

Updated at 8:30 p.m., June 11: Encouraged by a projected balance of at least 7 percent of the total budget at the end of this school year, Normandy school officials say they will have enough money to operate for the entire school year that begins in August.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

The rationale for a new collaboration between public school districts in the St. Louis area and Missouri’s association of charter schools can be summed up in five words:

Charter schools are public schools.

Principal GeNita Williams presents certificates to eighth graders at Normandy Middle School
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The promotion ceremony for 205 eighth graders at Normandy Middle School featured the usual words of encouragement and advice, plus memories of the past three years and more than a few hoots and hollers from family supporters.

But first, they got an apology.

Mike Jones, vice president of the Missouri state board of education, told the students that he realized the efforts by education officials in Jefferson City to help Normandy haven’t always succeeded. The district remains unaccredited and is finishing up its first year being run by a state-appointed board.

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

An NPR report shows Missouri's high school graduation rate increased five percentage points  between 2011 and 2013, good enough to rank 10th in the country. But that number may not tell the whole story.

The Truth About America's Graduation Rate looks at factors affecting the graduation rate around the country, and why the national rate of 81 percent — an all time high — may not be as good as it seems.

St. Louis Public Schools students thank Jack Taylor and family.
St. Louis Public Schools Foundation

A philanthropic family that prefers to remain low-key is making a high-profile statement to help underserved communities and St. Louis-area youth.

The family of Enterprise Holdings Founder Jack Taylor is donating $22 million to several charitable and educational organizations throughout the region.

Normandy Middle School
Normandy website

In their continuing struggle to raise test scores and regain accreditation, leaders of the Normandy school district have stressed a positive message: high expectations, strict standards, no excuses.

But students at the often-troubled Normandy Middle School have learned a different lesson.

Normandy Superintendent Charles Pearson agreed to a list of principles to reduce suspensions on Saturday, May 23, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

High school students with Metropolitan Congregations United are calling for a reduction in out-of-school suspensions in area schools. They presented data and recommendations for change Saturday to a group of about 40 educators and community members.

The group, called Students 4 Change, highlighted  a recent UCLA report, which found that Missouri suspends more African-American grade school students than any other state in the country.  Three St. Louis area schools in particular were singled out in the report: Normandy, Riverview Gardens and St. Louis Public Schools.

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