Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

Chelsea Clinton speaks to students and parents at Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School in Creve Coeur Friday, April 7, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Long before Chelsea Clinton lived in the White House, she wrote then-President Ronald Reagan a letter, imploring him to not visit a Nazi cemetery on an upcoming visit to Germany.

The daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday shared the letter, which was adorned with a rainbow sticker, with students at Mirowitz Jewish Community School in Creve Coeur.

Flickr | alkruse24

Hours after measures to increase the sales tax for schools failed in both Madison and St. Clair counties, two school districts from each county sued the state.

Bethalto, Cahokia, Grant and Wood River-Hartford schools joined more than a dozen other southern Illinois districts in the suit. They want the state to provide enough funding so districts can meet the state's new learning standards.

East St. Louis students spend about a month without school last fall due to a teacher strike. In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo students spend their free day outside the school district office.
File photo | Wiley Price | St. Louis American

The East St. Louis School District is one of 10 Illinois schools that will help design a learning plan based not on how much time students spend listening to their teacher, but rather how many skills they’ve mastered.

It’s a new approach to education called competency-based learning, meant to transition away from credit hours that traditionally have tracked a student’s progress.

Mizzou's Columns
File Photo| Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Officials in University of Missouri System are considering layoffs as it makes adjustments in the face of a major loss in state funding and shrinking enrollment, system President Mun Choi said Monday.

In Choi’s open letter, which starts the process of making deep budget cuts to the state’s largest provider of higher education, he said the four campuses will need to trim 8 percent to 12 percent out of their budgets. The cuts will target specific programs and not be across-the-board, he said.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

School districts across the St. Louis area are asking voters Tuesday to consider various funding measures.

Two Metro East counties are hoping to join more than 40 others in Illinois that have started using sales tax increases to bolster school funding in the face of less state support due to a nearly two-year budget crisis.

And in St. Louis County, there are a half-dozen funding measures. Kirkwood would raise property taxes, while the rest are bonding measures, all of which need to pass with about 57 percent of the vote. The largest bonding measure, in the Rockwood district, seeks to spend $95.5 million on a new elementary school in Eureka and expand other buildings.

The St. Louis Public Schools elected board discusses business during its June meeting as state board of education member Vic Lenz looks on.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Public Schools’ elected board hasn’t had direct control of the district for a decade. Regaining that control from the state may hinge on the April 4 election, when voters will choose from among seven candidates for three open seats.

Board member Bill Monroe is seeking a second term. But the president of the SLPS board and some state-level education officials see his continued presence as a possible disruption in getting back local control.

Malindi Henning answers questions during a science class at Miriam School in Webster Groves. (March 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Miriam School is a small, private school in Webster Groves that serves children who've struggled to learn in typical classrooms. Thirteen percent of its students are adopted.

At first glance, that may seem surprising, as nationally, fewer than 2 percent of school-aged children are adopted. But studies suggest that adopted and foster children suffer from learning disabilities at twice the rate as children raised by both birth parents. For adoptive parents, that may mean a greater challenge in finding the right school or learning environment for their child.

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

A long, slow decline in both state funding and enrollment has public colleges in Illinois cutting staff and increasing tuition. In the face of a financial shortfall, it would seem campuses would seek out every dollar available.

But Western Illinois University and Southern Illinois University are trying a different tactic. They’re eliminating higher out-of-state tuition rates so any undergrad from any state will pay what used to be the lower in-state tuition.

University of Missouri President Mun Choi, shown here in November 2016, detailed cuts across the UM System campuses.
File photo | Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri System’s incentive program for its top executives is being terminated just a few days after a state audit found the program lacked transparency.

New UM System President Mun Choi acknowledged the current program’s lack of transparency was a part of his decision to end it, but he also said paying “the market rate” for administrators is key to the university’s overall success.

Quadrangle at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
(Flickr Creative Commons User Adam Procter)

Updated at 6:10 p.m. with Greitens' statement — Missouri’s auditor criticized the University of Missouri System on Monday for giving excessive bonuses and other incentives to several current and former top administrators at a time when the system grapples with funding cuts and mulls raising tuition.

The Milburn campus of O'Fallon Township High School, where the district's ninth-graders attend class.
O'Fallon Township High School via Facebook

Updated March 3, 2017 with results of an emergency meeting — A Metro East high school has reversed the severity of its planned teacher cuts for next school year.

At an emergency meeting Thursday, the O’Fallon Township High School board of education unanimously approved a new budget deficit reduction plan. The new plan eliminates four classroom teaching positions instead of six full-time and one part-time teacher.  Guidance counseling and library services are no longer impacted by the cuts.

Julie Dubray, co-author of the children's book Goodnight St. Louis, reads to students at Koch Elementary Schools on March 2, 2017.
Ryan Delaney / St. Louis Public Radio

Second-graders at a predominantly low-income north St. Louis County school district went home with new books Thursday as part of a national reading day.

Two St. Louis children’s authors spent part of the afternoon at Koch Elementary School in the Riverview Gardens district, which is struggling with reading proficiency. Just 17 percent of third-graders at Koch Elementary School were considered to be at state standards for reading in 2015, though the district has improved enough regain provisional accreditation.

(via Flickr/Tracy O)

Some trustees for the St. Louis Public School Retirement System have been traveling extensively on the system’s dime and answered questions at Monday's board meeting about the benefits of such trips.

The seeming infighting among members of the board, which controls the pension fund for about 10,000 current and retired employees, stems from two trustees racking up the bulk of the nearly $117,000 in travel expenses from 2012 to 2016.

River Roads Lutheran School

Updated 5 p.m. Feb. 28 with decision on school's future – The 78 students of River Roads Lutheran School on St. Louis’ north side will not need to find a new school to attend mid-year.

The school community raised $136,000 — enough to stay open until at least June, principal Yvonne Boyd announced Tuesday.

Flickr | orangeacid

Illinois State Superintendent Tony Smith is touting the state’s 2016 Advanced Placement test results.

Illinois ranks 4th in the nation for increasing the percent of students who take and pass AP exams according to a report from the College Board, which administers the tests.

Andy Sminds / Flickr

Updated 9:40 a.m. — This story and the accompanying photo have been correct to reflect the charter sponsors of the Confluence Academy network.

Missouri’s State Board of Education has limited power when it comes to charter schools, mostly making sure they meet the state’s requirements, such as staying open a certain number of days. Academic performance is out of its hands.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Increasingly, college life is less about walking across the quad or stopping at the dining hall before sitting in a big lecture hall, and more about flipping open a laptop at home.

Take Royal Witcher, a St. Louis native and Army veteran who lives in Belmont, Mississippi. He completed most of his bachelor’s degree through the University of Phoenix, a fully online institution, but often felt like just a number.

When it was time for his MBA, the 45-year-old did his research — lots of it — and decided on Maryville University, which has a campus in suburban St. Louis. But he didn’t return to Missouri, instead taking advantage of an online degree.

St. Louis area high school juniors Connor Ouchi (left) and Shawnee Boswell work on an exercise about making tough decisions during Youth Leadership St. Louis' Diversity Day on Sat., Feb. 18, 2017.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Clusters of St. Louis area teens dotted the atrium of the Nestle Purina headquarters on Saturday as the 70-odd students intently debated several mature issues that challenge many adults.

Racial diversity. Transgender identity. Religious tolerance. New Americans and immigrants. Despite taking on different topics, the groups had one thing in common: intense, but civil discussions.

Mizzou's Columns
File Photo| Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens wants a former Mizzou football player and two others with ties to the state’s flagship university campus to help oversee the University of Missouri System.

The new curators-in-waiting are Darryl Chatman, Jeff Layman and Jamie Farmer. They all studied at the Columbia campus, and need to be confirmed by the state Senate.

Greitens announced the three appointments to the Board of Curators on Wednesday. The spots were open after he withdrew former Gov. Jay Nixon’s interim appointments.

Mizzou's Columns
File Photo| Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 11 with correction about how state universities can raise tuition -- The University of Missouri System is strongly considering tuition increases for its four campuses due to declining enrollment and declining state funding.

It’s still early in the budgeting process, but this week’s Board of Curators meeting was the first chance for the governing body to discuss Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposal for another large cut in state funding — 9 percent — in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

Tax credits | Flickr

The Missouri Senate could soon approve legislation that would give tax credits to people who donate money to fund private school scholarships.

Under Senate Bill 32, anyone could make donations to nonprofit groups that would use the funds to set up education savings accounts.

Then, parents could use those accounts to pay tuition at the school of their choice, including religious schools.

Daniel Doerr, University of Missouri-St. Louis' assistant director for international studies, advises students about the impacts of President Donald Trump's travel ban at a forum Tuesday, Jan. 31.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated, Jan. 31 7:10 p.m. with advice from University of Missouri-St. Louis officials: 

Local colleges are advising all international students to avoid leaving the country amid President Donald Trump's executive order barring entry to travelers from seven countries.

Saint Louis University's newest version of the Billiken mascot, unveiled Wed., Jan. 25, 2017.
Saint Louis University

That old adage about not succeeding the first time and trying again certainly applies to Saint Louis University's mascot.

On Wednesday night, the university unveiled its new Billiken mascot, which is a re-do of a re-do.

The school first revamped its mythical symbol last September, but it was quickly met with disgust and jeers. 

Eighth-graders watch President Donald Trump's inaugural address during class at North Kirkwood Middle School.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Eighth-grade students at North Kirkwood Middle School began an extended social studies class today, Inauguration Day, with a bit of political therapy. Teachers had them write down everything negative about the 2016 presidential campaign and election. There was no sharing, though peeks over shoulders gleaned key words like emails and racism.

Then the tearing began.

Chancey Granger, Karen Kalish and Karen Evans discussed the importance of teacher home visits on "St. Louis on the Air."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis native and self-identified “serial social entrepreneur” Karen Kalish founded HOMEWORKS! The Teacher Home Visit Program in 2007. Kalish was familiar with programs like Parents as Teachers that used home visits to support parents of infants and toddlers, and she wanted to create something similar for kids who had already entered the education system.

That’s when she decided to start a teacher home visit program.

“There’s two visits a year,” Kalish explained. “The first visit [is about] relationship and trust building, and the second is about academics.”

File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:01 p.m. Jan. 05 with response from the court — Ferguson-Florissant's April school board elections will operate under its old at-large system. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the NAACP's request to switch to the cumulative voting method a federal judge ordered earlier in the voting rights case. 

St. Louis Public Radio's Donna Korando and Dale Singer have led storied journalism careers in St. Louis. On Friday, they retire.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Politics editor Donna Korando and education reporter Dale Singer have made their marks on the St. Louis Public Radio newsroom, but they’ve also led storied journalistic careers in St. Louis at outlets including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Beacon.

As of Friday, both Korando and Singer will leave St. Louis Public Radio for their next adventures: retirement.

Kristin Sobolik, new provost at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, in photo provided by the campus Jan. 4, 2017
Provided | University of Missouri-St. Louis

Kristin Sobolik, currently the dean of the college of liberal arts at Wright State University, will become provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis on June 1.

 

Chancellor Tom George announced her selection on Wednesday, praising her work in increasing diversity at Wright State in Dayton, Ohio. Those areas have been a big focus at the University of Missouri system in recent months.

 

Provided | Alliance Defending Freedom

When Annette Kiehne looked for ways to make the playground safer at Trinity Lutheran Church preschool in Columbia, Missouri, she had no idea the plan would become a federal case – all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As director of the school, she just wanted to replace the playground’s pea gravel surface with shredded tires, which would be a more comfortable cushion for the inevitable tumbles from monkey bars and such. And the church playground qualified for a state program that was giving away just such a surface.

But after Trinity was judged fourth best of the 14 applicants who qualified to get the shredded rubber, state officials changed their minds. Because the preschool is run by a church, they decided, Missouri law bars it from taking part in a program funded with state money.

MCU's Dietra Wise Baker talks during a workshop on the problems in the juvenile justice system in Missouri on May 14, 2016.
File Photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louisans working to reform school discipline and the juvenile justice system say they are pushing for clear district policies in response to Missouri’s revised criminal code.

That’s after Ferguson-Florissant and Hazelwood issued warnings in December that Missouri’s newly revised criminal code could mean students would be charged with felonies for fighting.

Pages