Education

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon (center) talks with state board member John Martin (left) and deputy education commissioner Ron Lankford at the state school board meeting in October 2015.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the Missouri state school board praised progress made by Riverview Gardens in recent years Tuesday but postponed any vote that could upgrade its status from unaccredited.

Because the board put off until at least this fall any consideration of making the district provisionally accredited, students living in Riverview Gardens will remain eligible to transfer to nearby accredited schools in the coming school year.

school buses
Flickr

The end isn’t near for the area’s long-running school desegregation program, but it’s coming.

Area school superintendents in charge of the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corp. , which has run the program since a 1999 settlement established new rules the St. Louis-St. Louis County student transfers, are weighing one final five-year extension to the plan, taking it through the 2023-24 school year. They met Thursday to discuss the plan, with a final vote expected later this year.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon discusses the district's progress at a state hearing May 5, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Riverview Gardens has made solid gains over the past two years, but Missouri education officials will not recommend that the state board upgrade the district from unaccredited to provisionally accredited for the coming school year.

A better level of accreditation would mean that students who live in the district could no longer transfer to schools in other districts, as they have since the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the state’s transfer law in 2013.

St. Louis Public Schools

In 2007, the St. Louis Public Schools were placed under the control of a three-member appointed board. Its assignment was to fix problems in finance, governance and academic achievement.

The district has made progress in all three areas. A deficit became a surplus, infighting among board members has turned into civility, if not always unanimity, and student test scores have made steady gains. On its most recent state report card, the district, which was once unaccredited, scored solidly in the range for full accreditation.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon said he is optimistic the district will return to provisional accreditation, following a recommendation from the state department of elementary and secondary education board on Nov. 23, 2016.
Kimberly Ney | Riverview Gardens School District

Summer school starts Monday for two of the three school districts in the region working to regain full accreditation from the state: provisionally accredited St. Louis Public Schools and unaccredited Riverview Gardens.

Normandy is finishing up its extended school year and starts summer school June 13.

Michael Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) was started in 1944 by William Trent, Frederick D. Patterson and Mary McLeod Bethune. It was created to help raise funds for scholarships for 37 private historically black colleges and universities.

Now, funding has expanded for scholarships to non-HBCUs. The group predominantly provides scholarships to African American students, but also extends funding to other minorities as well.

St. Louis Public Schools

Updated at 12:50 p.m. June 1 with response from St. Louis Public Schools: Two parents who say their children have thrived in charter schools after struggling in St. Louis Public Schools want to have their voices heard in a lawsuit that could force charters in the city to lose tens of millions of dollars.

The parents filed a motion in federal court Tuesday asking to intervene in the lawsuit filed in April by the city public schools against the way proceeds from a 1999 city sales tax for education has been distributed by the state.

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

A former Missouri state representative is suing the University of Missouri and Joshua Hawley, a Republican candidate for attorney general, over delays by the university in responding to a wide-ranging request for emails and other documents.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway and audit manager Chris Vetter discuss findings from Fox school district May 25, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11:00 a.m. May 26 with fuller response from Critchlow: Under former Superintendent Dianne Critchlow, the Fox school district in Jefferson County misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars on salaries and credit card purchases, and the district’s school board did nothing to stop the practice, a state audit found.

Auditor Nicole Galloway, who released the audit at a news conference in St. Louis on Wednesday, said her office rated the district as poor, the lowest possible. Because of that determination, she said, the auditor’s office will follow up on recommendations in the audit in the coming months.

Michael Lato, right, Harold Taylor and John Scates rehearse for a scene.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For six performances next month in Grand Center, military veterans – and one military spouse – will present the Telling Project, a stage play designed to help the public understand what it’s like to be in the armed forces, then return to civilian life.

It uses the actual words from area veterans recruited through the University of Missouri-St. Louis. But no one should attend the production thinking it will be a straight, factual rendition of life in uniform.

This isn’t the Truth Project. This is the Telling Project.

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

Part-time instructors at Saint Louis University have joined their colleagues at three other local campuses and voted to join the Service Employees International Union.

In results of mail-in balloting announced Monday, the unionization proposal won by a vote of 76 percent, 89-28.

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

The University of Missouri “violated fundamental principles of academic due process” and endangered academic freedom when it fired Mizzou Communications Professor Melissa Click following her actions during protests in Columbia last fall, a new report on the situation said.

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

Tuition at the University of Missouri’s four campuses will remain flat this fall for in-state undergraduate students.

St. Louis Public Schools

After a lively discussion, the Missouri state school board agreed Tuesday to convene a meeting that could lead to the St. Louis Public Schools returning to the control of an elected school board.

Since 2007, the city schools have been under the authority of a three-member appointed Special Administrative Board. Since the schools scored solidly in the full accreditation range on their most recent state report card, talk has increased about when the switch back to the elected board could occur.

A person filling in a standardized test bubble sheet with a pencil.
Flickr | Alberto G.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. May 17 with comment from state board members

A task force looking into better ways to accredit Missouri school districts says the state should judge its schools like it judges its teachers — with a number of different measurements that don’t rely so heavily on student test scores.

In a report presented to the Missouri state board of education at its meeting in Jefferson City on Tuesday, the task force concluded that Missouri should retain accreditation of districts but change the criteria it uses to determine whether schools are accredited, provisionally accredited or unaccredited. The task force is made up of superintendents and others.

University of Missouri-Columbia

At a time when employees at two of its campuses face layoffs because of a financial crunch, curators of the University of Missouri spent $10,700 this week to meet at a Franklin County conference center rather than on university property.

The board held what it called a “development session” Wednesday at the Cedar Creek conference center in New Haven. No votes were taken at the meeting, whose agenda said it was held to discuss “board best practices.”

Tax credits | Flickr

Two days before St. Louis voters would decide the fate of a small sales tax increase to pay for school desegregation in 1999, the woman who started the effort to get  better schools for black students asked city voters to take a “leap of faith” and back the tax.

“Without a source for funding,” Minnie Liddell wrote in a letter to the Post-Dispatch with her attorney, William Douthit, “the agreement becomes an empty set of promises, unrealized goals and positive educational outcomes that might have been.”

The tax hike, two-thirds of a penny, won big. Now it’s back in the public eye, in a dispute over who should benefit from its proceeds.

Riverview Gardens students entertain before Thursday night's state hearing, May 5, 2016
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

When he opened Thursday night’s state hearing on the status of the unaccredited Riverview Gardens schools, assistant education commissioner Chris Neale spelled out the two big decisions the district faces.

First, the state school board will decide, as early as next month, whether the district’s progress merits an upgrade to provisional accreditation.

La'Shieka White talks about the lawsuit involving her son, Edmund Lee, on May 4, 2016. Attorney Joshua Thompson is at left.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

A black third-grader's effort to continue at his St. Louis charter school even though his family has moved to St. Louis County has gone to federal court.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, based in California, announced Wednesday that it had filed the lawsuit seeking to reverse long-standing provisions of the area-wide school desegregation settlement that bars African-American students living in the county from transferring to city public schools, including charters.

North Tech senior Charles Wyatt helps remove the red bumper off his team's robot after competing Friday, April 29, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 2:30 p.m. May 1 with information of fourth school — Four local high schools scored well enough in district and regional robotics competitions to participate in the FIRST robotics championship held in St. Louis this weekend: North Technical, University City, Ladue Horton Watkins and Westminster Christian Academy.

North Tech, a high school in Florissant that’s part of St. Louis County’s Special School District, is in its rookie year and competed with just three members.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
(via Flickr/Washington University/with permission)

Adjunct instructors at Washington University have approved their first contract with the school, gaining an increase in pay, more control over schedules and improved working conditions.

Michael O’Bryan, an English instructor who has been involved in negotiations since the adjuncts approved joining the Service Employees International Union more than a year ago, said the four-year pact was approved by “a hefty margin” in balloting on Wednesday and Thursday. University acceptance of the contract remains just a formality, a spokeswoman said.

File photo

Updated 3:20 p.m. April 28 with implementation of plan: The University of Missouri-St. Louis said Thursday it was going ahead with a budget plan that would eliminate up to 85 positions on campus but minimize the effect on students.

Education Plus helps districts with bulk purchasing, training and services.
Photos from Megan Moncure and PhotoAtelier | Flickr

When Don Senti announced earlier this month that he was stepping down, effective immediately, after five years as executive director of Education Plus, he cited health issues.

But emails among Senti, his staff and board members of the school district cooperative show that concerns about the financial health of the organization had intensified in the weeks leading up to his decision to leave.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Classrooms today are not teaching a skill and that is proving detrimental to churning out informed, active citizens in a democracy, said professor Joel Westheimer on St. Louis on the Air. That skill would be: critical thinking.

“One of the big problems with schools right now is the cultural obsession with standardized testing,” Westheimer said. Westheimer is specifically referring to standardized testing around math and literacy, which is pushing aside the teaching of subjects such as art and the teaching of how to be an engaged citizen in democracy.

State board President Charlie Shields and education Commissioner Margie Vandeven listen to Tuesday's discussion
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

After more than two years of sometimes contentious debate by lawmakers and educators, new Missouri learning standards won unanimous approval Tuesday from the state board of education.

Meeting in Jefferson City, board members stressed that the new standards — which replace Common Core standards — spell out what Missouri students should know in English, math, social studies and science at various grade levels. But local districts retain the authority and the responsibility to determine how those subjects will be taught.

LA Johnson / NPR

This story is part of the NPR reporting project “School Money,” a nationwide collaboration between NPR’s Ed Team and 20 member-station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.

Interim President Mike Middleton addresses the University of Missouri Board of Curators
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Last fall, amid demonstrations in Columbia that ended the tenure of the University of Missouri’s president and the chancellor at Mizzou, the system became a national focus for campus problems about racial diversity and inclusion.

Now, the system’s interim president said Friday, it is becoming a model for the best way to work through those problems.

Washington University

Updated 6:33 p.m. April 13, with tentative agreement: Washington University and unionized part-time faculty members announced a four-year tentative agreement late Wednesday that covers wages, job security and other issues the instructors had sought.

The move turns a planned protest rally and faculty walkout scheduled for Thursday into what a union spokeswoman called a victory rally.

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

Updated at 10:08 a.m. Thursday, April 14, with date set for curator vote: Students who plan to attend Washington University this fall know that their tuition will be $48,950. Toward the other end of the scale, in-state tuition at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville has been set at $8,352.

But as students try to finalize their academic plans, those headed for any of the four campuses of the University of Missouri don’t know yet how much their bills will be, and they don't know when the decision may be made.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

UPDATE: Washington U, adjuncts reach tentative agreement on four-year contract

Washington University adjunct faculty are warning of a walkout on Thursday in order to exert pressure on negotiations between their union and the school, which is refusing to move on the issue of a pay increase. Over 200 faculty and students alike have RSVP’d to the walk out Facebook event.

Pages