Education

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
(via Google Maps screen capture)

The new Normandy Schools Collaborative has completed one quarter of its first academic year, but if the experience of one teacher is any indication, conditions in the beleaguered district have not gotten any better under the control of a state-appointed board.

Peter Herschend
DESE website

Updated 1:25 p.m. Wednesday with letter from MNEA president:

Amid indications that the Missouri state board of education may choose a new commissioner next week, school officials throughout the state have urged it to open up the process and consider a wider range of candidates.

The state board already has discussed in closed session the process to replace Chris Nicastro, who has announced her retirement as of the end of December. And the board has several more hours of closed session talks set for its meeting Monday and Tuesday in Jefferson City.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

This story is the third part of A Teachable Moment, a three-part series that profiles how issues raised by events in Ferguson are being discussed in classrooms across the St. Louis region. 

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch has said that a grand jury could decide next month if Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will face charges for fatally shooting Michael Brown. From elected officials to teachers to parents, many have expressed considerable concern about what the reaction to the grand jury's decision will be.

Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

For the typical college freshman, heading for campus means a welcome chance to leave behind all those pesky rules that had to be followed at home and to enter a new environment of freedom and choice.

For the military veteran trying to re-enter civilian society and signing up for college classes, that lack of structure may be far less attractive and more than a little intimidating.

Ryan Barrett, who is studying for his doctorate at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, went through that tough transition when he left the Air Force after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Given the angry images and actions out of Ferguson and south St. Louis in recent weeks, you might not think that being too nice would be a problem in dealing with diversity.

Yet in recent discussions about Washington University’s new Center for Diversity and Inclusion – why it is needed, what it hopes to accomplish – the four-letter word that came up repeatedly was “nice.”

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

This story is the second part of A Teachable Moment, a three-part series that profiles how issues raised by events in Ferguson are being discussed in classrooms across the St. Louis region. 

From pulpits to protests, a wide cross section of St. Louis’ religious leaders has been deeply involved with demonstrations following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9. And for some teachers at religious schools in St. Louis, talking with students about the protests in Ferguson and Brown’s death is about more than education -- it’s a matter of faith.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

A program designed to push poor and minority students toward high school graduation and college and career readiness will expand in the St. Louis Public Schools.

Fueled by a $300,000 grant from AT&T, the Advancement Via Individual Determination  (AVID) program will go from serving around 300 students to 3,400 students at Cleveland Jr. Naval Academy, Gateway STEM High School, Roosevelt High School, Soldan International Studies High School, Sumner High School and Vashon High School. 

Vincent Flewellen leads a lesson on Ferguson during his eighth-grade multicultural studies course at Ladue Middle School.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

This story is the first part of A Teachable Moment, a three-part series that profiles how issues raised by events in Ferguson are being discussed in schools and classrooms across the St. Louis region.

Students were enjoying the last few weeks of summer vacation when mass demonstrations erupted in Ferguson following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown on Aug 9.

University of Missouri-St. Louis chancellor Tom George
University of Missouri-St. Louis

The University of Missouri–St. Louis is just a few miles from the Ferguson street where Michael Brown was shot and killed Aug. 9. Chancellor Thomas George said that wherever he goes, people ask about Ferguson.

Rebecca Smith/St. Louis Public Radio

As far as sexual assaults on a college campus are concerned, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill says no news is definitely not good news.

McCaskill, D-Mo., came to Harris-Stowe State University Monday as part of her continuing efforts to strengthen colleges’ responses to sexual assault – responses that she says too often are half-hearted or, at their worst, harmful to the victim.

When writer and educator Inda Schaenen wanted to find out what really goes on in Missouri’s schools, she decided to ask those who are closest to the action – students, and more specifically fourth-grade students.

So she traveled throughout the state, talking with fourth-graders in public, private and parochial schools, in rural, urban and suburban areas. She asked about their courses, about their friends, about why they think they have to go to school in the first place. And she asked what she said was the best trigger of them all: “What’s it like here?”

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Members of eight work groups tasked with crafting new education standards to replace Common Core in Missouri appear to be still divided over the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's involvement in the process.

Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

When Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson was a kid, he and some of his buddies got into some mischief.

They were throwing snowballs at passing cars and then ran off to hide. Then, the police officer who patrolled Johnson’s neighborhood caught them.

“So, we put the snowballs behind our backs,” Johnson recalled.    

“Were you guys the ones throwing snowballs?” Johnson said the officer asked.

“We all said ‘no,’ even though we had the snowballs behind our backs,” Johnson said. 

Michelle Peltier/Saint Louis University

Fred Pestello may be the first lay president of Saint Louis University, but he is hardly ignoring the school’s mission grounded in Jesuit philosophy.

At his inauguration Friday morning, Pestello told faculty, staff, students, alumni and representatives of other universities that the traditions of a Jesuit education mean that SLU must “ask the most compelling questions of our time. Our mission statement itself is a reflection of this extraordinary vocation. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and the service of humanity….

Rebecca Smith/St. Louis Public Radio

A tutoring program that now serves 150 students in north St. Louis could expand to help 350 more students in the city and north St. Louis County with the help of $500,000 in federal funds awarded by the state of Missouri.

comedy nose | Flickr

Almost 20,000 students in St. Louis and Kansas City attended a charter school last school year. That’s nearly twice as many compared to the 2003-04 school year.  And the breadth of charter school options  could grow as the Missouri Charter Public School Commission begins to take shape.

Vashon High School freshman Rochelle Mason joined other students in a walk-out over substitute teachers and quality resources.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

About 100 students from St. Louis' Vashon High School walked out of classes Friday morning to demand more full-time teachers and better textbooks.

The students also were upset about certain school policies and the hiring of a new principal.

Vashon has been under scrutiny after it earned only 28 percent of available points on the most recent report card from the state.

Substitute teachers 

Flickr/mrsdkrebs

Americans don’t fare that well when it comes to understanding how their government works. 

For example, 35 percent of Americans couldn’t name a single branch of the U.S. government and 20 percent thought a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress for reconsideration.

That's according to a survey released last week by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

For the last five years, Chris Nicastro has served as commissioner of Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She announced her retirement earlier this month and will step down at the end of the year.

Her tenure was marked by controversial decisions regarding school districts in north St. Louis County, including the Normandy School District, now known as the Normandy Schools Collaborative.  

St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Dale Singer spoke with Nicastro earlier this week and we aired a portion of that conversation on “St. Louis on the Air.” 

(via Flickr/evmaiden)

Depending on whose opinion you get, this week’s initial meetings to draw up new school standards for Missouri students were a “Common Core cheerleading session” or a strong-arm attempt that was “hijacked by political extremists” on the right.

Either way, the eight committees impaneled under a law passed earlier this year appear to have a long way to go to meet a deadline of having the new standards ready for approval a year from now.

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