Education

Dwaun Warmack is installed as president of Harris-Stowe State University in April 2015.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Dwuan Warmack says his focus as president of Harris-Stowe State University is hard to forget, because it’s young men just like him.

At Friday’s formal installation in the position that he took over last July, Warmack noted that he didn’t have the best grades or the highest test scores in high school. “All the indicators said I wasn’t college material,” he told a crowd of friends, family and colleagues at the festivities, which included tributes, a bit of history and a video explaining to his young daughter why he wears a bow tie.

(via Flickr/kcds)

Ask Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton why the school is embarking on a year-long effort to determine causes and solutions to gun violence, and he has a host of statistics and academic rationales to make his case:

  • The cost to the nation of $174 billion each year.
  • More than 11,000 U.S. homicides and nearly twice that number of suicides from firearms in 2013.
  • Missouri’s ranking of fourth in the nation for killings with guns.

But Wrighton's wife, Risa Zwerling Wrighton, has a far more emotional argument, one that moves her to tears.

The columns at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

State higher education funding per full time student has dropped more than 26 percent in Missouri and increased almost 50 percent in Illinois over the past five years, according to data compiled by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

The stark contrast between the states is due in part to an almost 29 percent variance in enrollment trends; Missouri enrollment has gone up while Illinois enrollment has gone down.

But Illinois Higher Education Director James Applegate said his state has also drastically increased its higher education funding in order to pay pension shortfalls.

Children from a St. Louis classroom who participate in the Ready Readers program.
Courtesy of Ready Readers

In celebration of D.E.A.R., “Drop Everything And Read,” day on April 12, we are taking a closer look at the importance of reading and getting books into the hands of children.  

Ready Readers is a St. Louis-based nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring preschool age children from low-income communities to love books and develop literacy skills necessary to become readers when they enter kindergarten.

On Thursday, "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh talked to Lisa Greening and Julia Auch of Ready Readers.

 

(via Flickr/lowjumpingfrog)

Voters in the Webster Groves School District said a resounding no Tuesday to two proposals — a bond issue and a tax increase — that will mean layoffs of teachers and cancellation of plans to expand and improve district facilities.

While those proposals were soundly defeated, voters in Rockwood and Ferguson-Florissant put past controversies behind them and gave solid majorities to bond issues designed to improve facilities in both of those districts.

Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University philosophy professor Claude Evans remembers the day that one of his students leaned back so far in his chair that the chair broke and a foot-long piece of metal broke off and was lying on the floor.

Right away, his students made sure that Evans took custody of the broken piece until the end of class.

The Current in the 1960s and today.
courtesy The Current

The student newspaper at the University of Missouri-St. Louis has launched a crowdfunding campaign to keep the paper afloat next school year.

This time last year the student government association declined to give The Current any money from student fees, so the paper now is funded solely through advertising and donations.

James Shuls, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, and Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop, talk about summer learning opporunities for students with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on April 2, 2015.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

What are kids doing when school’s out for the summer? A new app will make finding summer camps, classes and activities easier for parents.

File photo

Normandy school officials say 637 students have signed up to transfer to other districts in the coming school year, far more than the number that officials have said could spell serious financial trouble for the district.

Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

As a girl growing up in Bel-Nor, Melanie Ziebatree recalls riding her bicycle around the neighborhood and taking in the majestic view of the Incarnate Word convent on Normandy Drive, across from the Normandie golf course.

voting booth for paper ballot
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Two St. Louis County school districts are asking voters to put recent controversies behind them and approve bond issues next month to help bring facilities up to date.

In Rockwood, where two bond issues have failed in recent years, $68.95 million in bonds would pay for improved technology and increased security along with better athletic facilities. In Ferguson-Florissant, a $31 million bond issue would fund capital improvements and repairs, safety and security measures and updated technology.

Do students who take only two or three courses at once have a better chance to succeed than those who have to pay attention to five at a time?

St. Louis Community College plans to use a pilot program this fall to try to find out.

The program will use a so-called compressed schedule, formally known as 7-one-7, where students at its south county education center will be able to take courses that last half as long as the traditional semester courses, but meet in longer sessions to amount to the same total class time.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

The high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high in America of 81 percent, and in Missouri it climbed to 85.7 percent during the 2013-14 school year. As more students earned high school diplomas, the gap between graduation rates for white and minority students also began to narrow, both nationally and in Missouri.

Even though the school transfer issue aroused passionate debate last year, the issue still isn't resolved.
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

JEFFERSON CITY -- Going along with a recent court decision, the Missouri state board of education voted Tuesday to classify the Normandy Schools Collaborative as unaccredited, but it also praised progress the troubled district has made toward greater academic achievement.

Cornell University political science professor and author Suzanne Mettler talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on March 16, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Millions of students are enrolled in college, but graduation rates are uneven. Why? Author Suzanne Mettler says political squabbling is to blame.

Mettler, a political science professor at Cornell University, has written a book that lays out the problem and its solution: “Degrees of Inequality: The Demise of Opportunity in Higher Education and How to Restore the American Dream.”

Normandy parents and community members discuss an update on Normandy Schools Saturday March, 14, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Editor's note: HB 42 in its current form has been amended to reduce tuition using a formula instead of capping it at 70 percent of the receiving district's tuition. On March 18, the Senate Education Committee approved the bill for consideration by the full Senate. 

With looming budget concerns and student transfer bills on the fast-track to becoming law, St. Louis nonprofit Beyond Housing held a call to action for Normandy schools on Saturday.

The Normandy school district board listens to public comment at Thursday night's meeting
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The last time the board that oversees the Normandy Schools Collaborative held an open forum, Charles Pearson asked the crowd whether this year was going better than last – and was met with an overwhelmingly negative response.

Even though the school transfer issue aroused passionate debate last year, the issue still isn't resolved.
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

As Normandy schools begin searching for a new superintendent, residents say they want a strong, experienced leader who can steer the district through tough times and stand up to state education officials who are often seen as an enemy, not an ally.

To add to the district’s turmoil, the principals of Normandy Middle School and Washington elementary school have submitted their resignations, leaving two more key positions to be filled at a time when many qualified educators already have jobs lined up for the coming school year.

St. Louis Public Schools

  

(Updated at 9 p.m., 3/10/15)

St. Louis Public Schools is reconsidering its discipline policy following a report from the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA that found the district suspended roughly 29 percent of African-American grade school students at least once during the 2011-12 school year.

File photo

Missouri education officials are agreeing with a St. Louis County judge that the Normandy school district should be unaccredited, but that doesn’t mean they accept the judge’s ruling.

Circuit Judge Michael Burton ruled in February that an earlier decision by the Missouri state board of education that classified Normandy as accredited was improperly arrived at and that Normandy – which had the worst scores in the state on last year’s annual evaluation – should be unaccredited.

Jeff Pittman
Provided

St. Louis Community College has named Jeff Pittman, an education official in Indiana, as the new chancellor of its four-campus system, effective July 1.

Pittman, who turns 58 this week, is currently statewide vice president of corporate college services and online education at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. He was one of four finalists for the job, including Rod Nunn, the interim president of the college’s Forest Park campus.

SEMO website

Carlos Vargas-Aburto, currently acting president of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, will become the 18th president of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau on July 1.

Vargas, who will succeed the retiring Kenneth Dobbins, was chosen following a wide-ranging search. One of the four finalists for the job was Benjamin Ola Akande, head of the business school at Webster University.

File photo

Moving on fast parallel tracks, with the assistance from Gov. Jay Nixon’s office that has absent in the past, the Missouri House and Senate have advanced legislation designed to change provisions of the state’s student transfer law.

Flickr

Missouri suspends African-American grade school students at a higher rate than any other state in the country.  This was a key finding in a national report issued last week by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA.  But troubled districts have been making some progress.

Archbishop Robert Carlson ceremonially breaks ground on the new St. Margaret of Scotland school building on Sunday, March 1, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Margaret of Scotland School didn’t set out to build the first new Catholic parish school building in St. Louis in 50 years. It just ran out of classrooms.

“We’re so crowded right now I always say don’t try and stretch because there’s not room,” St. Margaret Principal Juliann DePalma Hesed said. “Every corner of our building is used. Our cafeteria is our cafeteria but it is used eight different times (a week) for classes that don’t have a classroom.”  

According to Hesed, the school began seeing growth in the early 2000s after decades of serving 230 - 260 students.

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

St. Louis has been selected by a national education organization for aid increasing the number of adults with college degrees in the region.

Four finalists have been chosen in the search for the next chancellor of the St. Louis Community College system.

The school said Friday that the four will appear in public forums next week, so students, staff and members of the community can meet them and ask questions. The forums will be held at the school’s four campuses – Florissant Valley, Forest Park, Meramec and Wildwood – as well as at its administrative center downtown.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

The Normandy Schools Collaborative has hired a Chicago-area search firm to help find a new superintendent, but that person may not have an education background.

The district’s governing board voted Thursday night to hire ProAct Search for $25,000, with the goal of having a new superintendent in place by July 1. The district’s new leader would replace Ty McNichols, who resigned last month; Charles Pearson, who had been head of the appointed governing board, is serving as interim superintendent.

Kurt Schaefer 2014 mo senator
Official photo

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said his bill restricting university appointments is meant to prevent potential conflicts of interest the public might see as unethical. The Senate gave first-round approval Wednesday to the bill, which bars the University of Missouri System's Board of Curators from appointing the governor who named them to the board as president.

Margie Vandeven, Missouri commissioner of elementary and secondary education, visits with students in Warren County.
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Margie Vandeven has been Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education for less than two months, but she’s hardly a newcomer to the state’s schools.

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