(via Flickr/Alex Grant (alextakesphotos))

The state Board of Education has denied a school district transfer for a southwest Missouri family in a case that some officials claimed could have encouraged parents statewide to try to switch districts.

State Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro had said a kindergarten pupil should be shifted from the Blue Eye to the Shell Knob district because of a transportation hardship. Nicastro said Table Rock Lake posed a natural barrier resulting in a long bus ride that was a hardship.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

Legislators have given their equivalent of an "A" to an education measure heralded as landmark. After heavy negotiations, it's on its way to the governor's desk.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

A respectful crowd of 85 parents and district activists filled seats at Vashon High School Monday night seeking some clarity on the 2011-2012 budget for the St. Louis Public Schools.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation allowing the use of $189 million in federal education money to fill shortfalls in state funding.

Nixon signed the measure Monday at a high school in Linn, about a half-hour east of Jefferson City.

The federal money won't yield a net increase in the funding of local school districts. But it will help avoid a reduction in basic state aid to schools during this and future academic years.

(via Flickr/comedy_nose)

Three new charter schools will open to St. Louis City residents in August.

Jamaa Learning Center will serve kindergarten through eighth grade, Preclarus Mastery Academy will enroll grades 5-to-12 and South City Prep for grades 5-to-12 will offer a year-round academic calendar.

Mayor Francis Slay announced the new charter schools this morning and said education is the number one issue in the City of St. Louis.

Some Missouri lawmakers say the state should do away with its tenure system for teachers and make students' academic performance a big part of their evaluations.

A House panel heard testimony Wednesday on legislation that would require 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation to be based on students' scores on state tests. Teachers would not be guaranteed salary increases based on their classroom experience. The changes would take effect in July 2012.

Students pushed to the limit.  Burned out teachers.  Worried parents.  These are the characters in Race to Nowhere, a documentary screening at community events around the country, including three screenings in St. Louis over the next few weeks.  Filmmaker Vikci Abeles has called the film “a call to mobilize families, educators, and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens. ”

comedy nose | Flickr

It's been an above-average winter for snowfall in St. Louis, and that's wreaking havoc with the schedules for area school districts.

By state law, Missouri students have to be in class for at least 174 days and 1,044 hours. Most districts build a few extra classroom days into the schedule in order to be able to call school in case of bad weather.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Republican and Democratic House members gathered today to unveil several proposals they say will improve K-12 education in Missouri.

The idea getting the most attention is school choice - allowing students from failing school districts to transfer to better-performing schools statewide.

Governor Jay Nixon spent a few minutes with reporters in Jefferson  City today, answering questions about education and other topics.

Chuck Berry
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | file photo
  • A funeral is scheduled for Thursday for a soldier from Ste. Genevieve who died in Afghanistan. 25 year-old Sgt. Michael J. Beckerman was assigned to the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. The army says he died Dec. 31 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wound suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvsed explosive device. Beckerman arrived at Fort Campbell in January 2010. He joined the Army in September 2004.

A special Missouri Senate committee is recommending that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education be merged with the Department of Higher Education.

The proposal was one of several announced today that Senate leaders say will improve education in Missouri. Republican David Pearce of Warrensburg says combining the two will have benefits beyond cost savings.

As the committee assigned to help figure out what's next for St. Louis Public Schools winds up its work, one of the main questions it is asking is: How should the city school board be chosen, by election or by appointment?

But based on the discussion the five members had on Monday afternoon, as important as how is the question of who.

Students aren't the only ones who get report cards -- school districts do, too. And the latest numbers for some troubled school districts in the St. Louis area aren't encouraging.

The two Missouri districts in the area that have only provisional accreditation, Jennings and Normandy, still are far short from making the grade, preliminary numbers released Monday show. And the two districts that have been taken over by the state -- St. Louis and Riverview Gardens -- aren't improving either.

After Cleveland Hammonds took charge of the St. Louis Public Schools on July 1, 1996, he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was coming into the job as the 23rd superintendent of the largest public school system in Missouri with eyes wide open.

"I know there are great challenges -- I'm not that naive," he said.

Paideia Academy, which had planned to open its school year the day after Labor Day despite having lost its charter to operate, won't be opening after all.

Fred Robinson, president of the school's board, said Thursday that an effort to secure financing for the school had not worked out, so it would not be accepting students, at least for now. He said the decision was made earlier this week.

"The deal we were working on didn't work," Robinson said, declining to give further details. "The deal we were working on fell through."

Former state Sen. Betty Sims, R-Ladue, has been named by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, to the state's Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

Sims held the 24th District state Senate post from 1995-2003, when she had to step down because of term limits. She was succeeded by Democrat Joan Bray, who also is leaving after this year because of term limits. (The 24th District has the region's only competitive state Senate this fall, between Democrat Barbara Fraser and Republican John Lamping.)

St. Louis Public Schools have paid out as much as a teacher's salary for a full year to teachers who have yet to have their own class this fall, the district acknowledged Tuesday.

Because of unusual movement of teachers, as schools were forced to reconstitute their staffs as part of a turnaround effort, as many as 26 teachers were not assigned to classes that matched their certification, according to Sharonica Hardin, the school system's chief human resource officer.

The elected board of the St. Louis Public Schools wants to resume control of the district no later than July 1 of next year, ending what would be four years of state control of the city schools. It also is looking for new sources of funding and a cap on new charter schools until the district's enrollment stabilizes.

What's the best relationship between teachers and students? Love? Admiration? Respect?

What would you do if your class were deeply involved in a creative project, like a movie or a newspaper or a play, and the principal came along and said you had to get back to basics because standardized test time was coming up?

One of the main reasons for heading to California for a vacation was so my partner (and Beacon bookkeeper) Martin Kaplan could participate in a reunion of performing arts alums from Palos Verdes High School, from which he graduated in 1978. Marty described the rehearsals that occupied him last Friday and Saturday as "surreal." It felt, he said, as if he'd been catapulted backward in time, to the 1970s, when he was a student at PV High School, and during rehearsals it seemed very little had changed.

The sign above the door at Paideia Academy in north St. Louis proclaims NOW ENROLLING, with another banner saying: Classes Begin Aug. 20th.

But four days before its school year was supposed to begin, Paideia Academy -- the north St. Louis charter school that lost its charter, its sponsor and its lawsuit to remain open -- isn’t saying whether it will be teaching students this fall or when those classes might really begin.

Executive compensation is a hot-button topic. Numerous reports document that chief executives of major corporations earn salaries that far exceed those of their workers. And, amid the financial crisis and recession, we have seen that compensation and performance are not always linked.

Jesse Drapekin smiles in front of his final Power Point presentation.
Jo Seltzer | Beacon file photo

Lots of young people are into social networking these days. But another kind of networking has been going on for two decades in laboratories across the St. Louis area.

Each summer dozens of students participate in STARS (Students and Teachers as Research Scientists), a program sponsored by the University of Missouri-St. Louis. This year, more than 60 students spent their summer doing original research in top labs of academia and industry.

"These kids are the scientists and engineers of tomorrow," said Michael Anch of the Saint Louis University department of psychology.

Richard Gaines
Drew Canning | 2010 | St. Louis Beacon

Responding to the message that a $155 million bond issue for the St. Louis Public Schools would require no tax increase,  city voters gave the proposal an overwhelming victory Tuesday.

With 100 percent of the city’s precincts reporting, Proposition S, won with 76 per cent of the vote, and school officials declared victory. It needed a four-sevenths majority for passage, or 57.1 percent..

St. Louis middle and high school students will learn modern day lessons via an age-old tale this school year. A tale told not by an idiot, and one signifying much more than sound and fury.

The Missouri Supreme Court recently ruled that students in unaccredited school districts have the right to transfer to, and must be accepted by, an accredited school at the cost of the unaccredited district. The law upheld by the court also allows the transfer to be to a school "in another district of the same or an adjoining county." This ruling should serve as a wake-up call that serious statewide education reforms must be passed in the 2011 legislative session.

In the weeks since the Feb. 7 assault on the Kirkwood City Hall, a sizeable group of citizens has gathered regularly to discuss issues of race and to search for understanding and healing.  In contrast to the larger community, no groups have formed at Kirkwood High School to specifically address these issues, although the Black Achievement and Cultural Club, the Social Justice Committee and students enrolled in the alternative education program, Atlas, have discussed them.

In the weeks since the Feb. 7 assault on the Kirkwood City Hall, a sizeable group of citizens has gathered regularly to discuss issues of race and to search for understanding and healing.  In contrast to the larger community, no groups have formed at Kirkwood High School to specifically address these issues, although the Black Achievement and Cultural Club, the Social Justice Committee and students enrolled in the alternative education program, Atlas, have discussed them.

Charter schools

Apr 2, 2008

Following weeks of English and math drills, tens of thousands of public school students are sweating through another season of Missouri Assessment Program testing. The scores are supposed to help the public figure out, among other things, whether charter schools are as good an investment as traditional public schools. The spirited and at times mean-spirited debate growing out of this question is as constant and as predictable as Meramec River flooding following heavy spring rains.