Missouri’s commissioner of education has been buffeted by two controversies that have led to calls for her resignation but also expressions of support from her bosses on the state board of education.
To explain the controversy swirling around Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s embattled commissioner of elementary and secondary education, state school board member Mike Jones invokes the words of a legendary Texan, Jim Hightower:
The only things you find in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadillos.
The crowd was a lot smaller at Wednesday night’s second hearing called by Missouri state school officials into the future of the Normandy school district, but its passion remained strong.
And its message was a simple one: Their school district deserves more time to turn itself around, so the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) should come up with a plan that stops students transfers and helps Normandy survive.
Despite a growing chorus for Chris Nicastro to leave her post as Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, the head of the state’s school board gave her a vote of confidence Monday and defended the selection of a consultant currently looking into the Kansas City schools.
Nicastro has come under fire in recent weeks, first for her consultation with an education advocacy group on its initiative petition that included changes in teacher tenure, then from a Kansas City Star story on Sunday.
The St. Louis startup wants to provide schools with a curriculum, training and support to help teachers show students how to write computer code so they can land a good job even if they don't go to college.
To get an idea of why training students to write computer code should be a higher priority for schools, consider these numbers:
Less than three years after graduating college in 1989, Jim Ziolkowski quit his corporate finance job at GE and started buildOn, an organization dedicated to building schools in impoverished nations and after school programs in America's inner city schools.
When families gather for the holidays, it can be an opportunity to tell stories and pass on memories. For the St. Louis-based Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration, that provides a possible treasure trove for young people to build writing skills and forge strong family bonds.
Every year, The Grannie Annie publishes a volume of family stories written by students in the fourth to the eighth grade.
In Missouri, the average student loan debt for people between 25 and 34-years-old has increased by about 120 percent over the past eight years. In Illinois, that number has jumped more than 140 percent, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Nationally, student loan debt has topped the $1 trillion mark, surpassing credit card debt and auto loans.