Education

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

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.

Images from the "Hearts for Ferguson" project
Great Circle

After Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson last summer, and unrest delayed the opening of classes in the Ferguson-Florissant schools, the district wanted to make sure students had help handling their emotions, so their learning wasn't affected.

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Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri’s education commissioner said she is optimistic that Normandy schools will have enough money to remain open for the coming school year, but the final recommendation will come from the district’s appointed governing board.

teacher in classroom
U.S. Department of Education

Lloyd Little spent more than three decades in public education in outstate Missouri, so he knows how difficult the job of a substitute teacher can be.

But in retirement, that hasn’t stopped him from taking temporary gigs in classrooms in the Parkway school district.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

After conducting a nationwide search, the Normandy school district announced Thursday night that it was naming interim superintendent Charles Pearson to the position permanently, effective immediately.

“We were confident in Dr. Pearson’s abilities when we hired him as the interim superintendent in January," said Robert Ryffel, who led the search for the Joint Executive Governing Board. "And a national search confirmed our belief that he is the best candidate to continue to lead the Normandy Schools Collaborative during this critical time.” 

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Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio

To improve student achievement, the interim superintendent of the Normandy school district wants to move sixth graders to the elementary school, concentrate on “career exploration” at the smaller middle school and possibly reopen a closed school as a kindergarten center.

Remko van Dokkum | Flickr

Proponents of a fix to Missouri's student transfer process scored a victory last week when they passed a bill that addresses the problem. Among the options parents would have to educate their children are expanded opportunities to enroll their children in full-time virtual schools. But the new potential new choices are raising questions about who will make sure that virtual schools are up to snuff.

State law already requires that virtual schools — which do not have brick and mortar buildings and offer classwork online —  have to meet a list of qualifications that includes having Missouri-certified teachers and offering courses that align with state curriculum standards. But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles, said the legislation doesn’t make clear whose job it is to ensure virtual schools are following the rules.      

In many ways, Missouri youth match the national averages in terms of lost opportunities to get ahead, a new study shows.
Judy Baxter, via Flickr

The Webster Groves school district is working to cut $1.6 million from its budget for the coming year and abandoning plans for free full-day kindergarten and other programs, but Superintendent Sarah Riss insists that education for its students will be as good as ever.

Adjunct instructors at Webster University have lost their bid to join a union. However, both the adjuncts and university officials who campaigned against the union say they will keep discussing the issues that prompted the effort.

Incoming Westminster College President Benjamin Akande accepts a school T-shirt from Molly Dwyer, president of the school's student government association, as retiring president George Forsythe looks on.
Westminster College

Benjamin Akande, dean of the business school at Webster University for the past 15 years, will become the 21st  president of Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., on July 1.

At his introduction to the campus community in Fulton on Friday morning, Akande pledged to lead the 164-year-old school “from success to significance” on a broad scale.

Asia Slaughter (L) and Judith Cochran (R) joined "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Judith Cochran joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to discuss “Conscious Choice,” a program sponsored by the University of Missouri- St. Louis.

The program focuses on encouraging teen girls in at-risk environments to delay motherhood and graduate from high school. Participating teens that complete the program are recognized and rewarded with various gifts, including scholarships to UMSL.

Flickr

Updated 9:20 a.m., Thurs., May 7 with comments from Education Plus -- Even though it doesn’t make changes in student transfers that could save Normandy from bankruptcy, several education groups urged Gov. Jay Nixon Wednesday to sign the school bill approved by the Missouri legislature because it expands options for students in failing schools.

From left, SheRon Chaney helps her daughters Anandra and BrenNae with homework at their dining room table.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

This week lawmakers put a bill on Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk that’s supposed to fix the state’s student transfer law that doesn't include a hard cap on how much receiving districts can charge.

A lack of a tuition cap has rekindled concerns that the cost of student transfers will bankrupt the Normandy school district. And for the Chaney family, who St. Louis Public Radio profiled back in May of last year, it’s just the latest twist in what’s been a roller coaster ride.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

As problems with student learning persist in the Normandy school district, and lawmakers in Jefferson City appear to oppose a cap on tuition paid for student transfers, the vice president of the Missouri state board of education said the end of the district could be close.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

From Jefferson City to Normandy, educators are ready to tackle a math problem that is far from theoretical.

If you multiply the number of students who want to transfer out of Normandy in the coming school year by the average tuition that the district will have to pay, will the costs be so big that the district cannot survive?

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

No one has ever mistaken Rolla, Mo., for Cambridge, Mass. But new college rankings place the schools in both towns on just about the same level.

The report from a unit of the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., is an attempt to determine how well colleges prepare students for high-paying careers.

Remko van Dokkum | Flickr

Whether it's maintaining privacy online, or knowing how connected students are at home, even well-funded school districts can have a hard time keeping up with the speed of digital change. With that in mind, superintendents and administrators from more than 35 districts across the Midwest will gather for The Future Ready Regional Summit in St. Louis Tuesday to share ideas on how to weave technology into classroom instruction.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

Missouri state school officials called a public hearing Thursday night to hear opinions on how the Normandy school district could improve.

Instead, for more than an hour they heard 18 speakers criticize how the state has failed to support the district since appointing a board to run it last year and predict that the schools are doomed to close.

Washington University, Webster University, St. Charles Community College
St. Charles Community College, Flicker | Phil Roeder and Parick Giblin

Newly unionized adjunct instructors at Washington University prepared for their first negotiating session with the university this week, while adjuncts at Webster University get ready to decide whether they should organize as well.

And the organizing movement could soon spread to St. Charles Community College.

Computer keyboard
frankieleon | Flickr

As Missouri schools head into the heart of standardized test season, with new exams given in new ways, state education officials are checking closely to see if districts will make the grade.

For students in grades 3-8, this year’s Missouri Assessment Program, the MAP tests, in English and math are different in two ways. First, pencil-and-paper answer sheets have given way to computerized exams. Second, the tests are based on the Common Core standards, which will be in force while work groups devise new Missouri-based standards to replace them.

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

Advocates of preserving the former Incarnate Word convent continue to call on the University of Missouri-St. Louis to reverse its decision to demolish the building.

Built in 1922 to house the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, the university acquired the convent 20 years ago. It's located in the Village of Ben-Nor, south of the UMSL campus, across the street from the Normandie Golf Course.

About 40 people gathered on the steps of the convent Sunday to protest its upcoming demolition.

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.

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