File photo

After two successes in the General Assembly and two vetoes by Gov. Jay Nixon, Missouri lawmakers will consider once more what changes can be made to the state’s student transfer law.

Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, who has been active on the issue as head of the the Senate Education Committee, has pre-filed one of three bills dealing with the transfers. St. Louis area Democrats – Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City and Sen. Scott Sifton of Affton – have filed the others.

Riverview Gardens students sing before a public hearing on the district in December 2015.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

A mandatory state hearing on the status of the Riverview Gardens school district Thursday night turned into a cheerleading session on the progress the unaccredited district has shown over the past two years.

But the question of whether it will win the upgrade it has asked for, to provisional accreditation, remains unsettled.

Students at Jamaa Learning Center. The charter school, under the sponsorship of the University of Missouri-Columbia, will close at the end of the current school year.
Jamaa Learning Center Facebook with permission

Update 11:45 a.m., Dec. 17 with parent reaction. After five years dedicated to helping “educate and empower students and families” – but losing its charter from its sponsor – Jamaa Learning Center will close its doors at the end of the current school year.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Kaiya Timmermeier is standing under a big oak tree in the parking lot of Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School. She is more than a little freaked out at the moment.

“It’s so scary,” she said in shaky voice. “OK, now what?”

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Accreditation, school transfers and issues of race and discrimination on college campuses have all been big stories in education in 2015. On Monday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” St. Louis Public Radio’s education reporter, Dale Singer, joined host Don Marsh in discussing some of the biggest developments of the year.

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

In the wake of what he called a “perfect storm,” interim President Mike Middleton said Friday that the four-campus University of Missouri system should seize the opportunity to show its leadership on issues that prompted the resignations of two top officials.

Middleton took over as head of the system last month after Tim Wolfe resigned following lengthy student protests over racial incidents and other issues. The same day, the chancellor of the university’s Columbia campus, R. Bowen Loftin, also announced he would step down into a lesser role at Mizzou.

In the early 1970s, Washington University had more African American students enrolled than ever before. They created a guide to help future black students navigate the university and St. Louis.
Courtesy Washington University Library

When Ralph Hargrow arrived at Washington University from his home in the East Coast in 1969, he was part of a growing group of black students on a campus going through the same kind of drastic change that was hitting the nation as a whole.

The previous December, a group of black students had confronted Chancellor Thomas Eliot in his office in stately Brookings Hall and presented demands that later came to be known as a “Black Manifesto.”

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

Taking into account low inflation, state law and a request from Gov. Jay Nixon, the University of Missouri is proposing no tuition increase for resident undergraduate students at its four campuses in the next school year.

The proposal was introduced at the Board of Curators meeting held Thursday on the university’s St. Louis campus. Curators will take a final vote in the spring on tuition for the 2016-17 school year.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

There isn’t much difference in the titles of the old and new federal education acts — from No Child Left Behind to Every Student Succeeds. But the bi-partisan bill  approved by the Senate on a vote of 85-12 and sent to President Barack Obama on Wednesday represents more than the end of a system whose name is usually mentioned with disdain.

A dance class at Grand Center Arts Academy
Grand Center Arts Academy website

Updated at 11:38 a.m. Dec. 18 with certification of vote: The vote by teachers at Grand Center Arts Academy to become the first faculty of a charter school in Missouri to join a union has been certified by the school's operator.

The board of Confluence Academies, which operates the school along with four other charters in St. Louis, said in a statement Friday that it certified the vote in a meeting on Thursday. It said that of 59 votes cast, 54 were in favor of the union and five were against.

Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:48 p.m. Friday, with reaction from Harris-Stowe: For the second time in recent weeks, former employees at Harris-Stowe University have won seven-figure discrimination verdicts against the school.

In the latest case, a St. Louis Circuit Court jury this week ordered the payment of  $750,000 in actual damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages to Shereen AbdelKader, an Egyptian native whose contract as an assistant professor of education was not renewed in 2010.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

This year, Springboard, an education non-profit in the St. Louis area, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The organization helps children develop critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication through the arts, science and humanities. Their services reach 55,000 children in the St. Louis region annually. About 72 percent of schools they serve have economically disadvantaged student populations.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

Three school districts that have been crowing about their latest state report card after years of struggle could find out soon whether they will be rewarded with an upgrade in their accreditation status.

For schools in Jennings and St. Louis, the change would be from provisional accreditation to full accreditation. For Riverview Gardens, which is now one of two unaccredited districts in Missouri, a move up to provisional accreditation could get the district out from under the financial burden of student transfers now in its third year.

A large crowd gathers at the clocktower on the campus of Saint Louis University.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University is getting pushback over how long it is taking to meet diversity goals agreed to by President Fred Pestello and student protesters last year. 

school buses

Every school day, bright yellow buses transport thousands of students to class – some traveling across long distances to districts far from their homes,  most others staying within a district’s boundaries, whether it is compact like Ladue or sprawling like Parkway or Rockwood.

And that doesn’t count homeless students or others whose route is so specialized that their transportation is by taxi, just one or two at a time.

Three prisoners share their stories through performance.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Recent national prison reforms have included shortening sentences for drug offenders and releasing a number of prisoners because of the changes in sentencing guidelines. Yet roughly 32,000 people are incarcerated in Missouri.

Saint Louis University President Fred Pestello addresses students at the university's Clock Tower last August after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Saint Louis University

Two of 13 initiatives from a controversial agreement between Saint Louis University and student protesters in the aftermath of Ferguson unrest aimed at improving opportunities for black students on campus have been "substantially completed" in the last year, according to a school administrator tasked with overseeing the progress.

LaVell Monger
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

As president of the Associated Black Collegians at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, LaVell Monger is well versed on issues facing minorities on campus.

But when the recent furor erupted over the president of the University of Missouri system, Monger admits the name Tim Wolfe didn’t exactly ring a bell.

Richard Ryffel, head of the appointed Normandy school board, listens to a small group discussion at the district's public hearing.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

State education officials praised the Normandy school district Thursday night for the progress it has made over the past year.

Then the superintendent asked for ways the district could move even faster toward its goal of accreditation.

A dance class at Grand Center Arts Academy
Grand Center Arts Academy website

Updated at 11:10 a.m. Nov. 11 with details of the upcoming election: 

Teachers at Grand Center Arts Academy will vote Dec. 4 on whether to become the first faculty members at a charter school to join a union.

The faculty first announced in September that they wanted to join the American Federation of Teachers,. Since then, have dealt with the board of Confluence Academies, which operates the arts academy and four other charters in St. Louis.

University of Missouri-Columbia

The University of Missouri-Columbia moved quickly Tuesday to fill of its promises in the wake of the departure of its chancellor and the university system’s president.

But the new interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity cautioned that the goals of his position can’t be reached as swiftly as his appointment was made. Chuck Henson, who has been an associate dean at the law school at Mizzou, said change is possible, but it will take time.

When Tim Wolfe was being interviewed as a candidate to be president of the University of Missouri system four years ago, curator Wayne Goode of Normandy was wary of hiring a businessman to head the four-campus system.

But after Wolfe resigned Monday in the wake of growing protests over racial incidents at the university’s flagship campus in Columbia, Goode said he not only was won over by Wolfe’s management of the system, he worries about being able to recruit suitable candidates to replace him.

As a counselor helping students find the right college, first in Clayton and then at Metro High School in St. Louis, Chat Leonard has an unusual perspective on the bumps that can litter the road to higher education.

Both schools, she said, have bright, energetic, motivated students who have been preparing to go to college “since they were in utero.” But at Metro, a magnet school where almost 40 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, aiming to get into the best school possible may have a fuzzier focus than at a place like Clayton, where many more of the families are affluent.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

There is this term that gets thrown around in education circles that we felt needs some exploring.

School to prison pipeline.

It sounds like schools are some kind of factory for future inmates, which is not what most people think of as the mission of our education system. Rather, school is the place that prepares children for work, for life, for being good citizens. And for a lot of students, that is exactly what happens.

Alton school board finance committee director Chris Norman said though negotiations went long, a teachers strike would have still been weeks away.
Courtesy Alton Community School District #11 Facebook

A teachers strike in the Alton School District has likely been averted, and a new two-year contract for teachers is one step closer to being approved.

At a special meeting Friday morning, the school board's finance committee tentatively approved a counter proposal from the Alton Education Association, which is representing district teachers.

St. Louis Community College at Meramec
STLCC website

Updated at 7:43 p.m., Nov. 1, with results of vote: ​Part-time instructors at St. Louis Community College have voted overwhelmingly to join a union.

Jonathan Huskey, a spokesman for the Service Employees International Union, reported Sunday night that two days of balloting over the weekend resulted in approval of the union proposition by a vote of 188-15. He said 574 adjunct instructors were eligible to vote in the election.

Nine Network of Public Media

Updated 12:15 p.m., Nov. 5 with audio from the town hall—More than 100 educators, parents and students came together Wednesday, Oct. 28, to talk about the longstanding racial disparities in school suspensions in Missouri.

The state has grappled with the issue for several years, earning headlines in recent years for having the nation’s highest suspension rates.

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

JEFFERSON CITY — The superintendents of schools in Riverview Gardens and Normandy earned praise Tuesday from members of the state board of education for their solid progress on the latest Missouri school report cards 

Now, board members say, the districts need to get more money to help the momentum continue.

Educator Brian Schultz of Independence testified about social studies standards before the state board of education.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

JEFFERSON CITY – Proposed school standards for Missouri are designed to make students more active learners, rather than just memorizing rote facts, writers of the standards told members of the state board of education Monday.

Angie Muse, Hazelwood school district
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

After lawmakers decreed that Missouri drop the Common Core school standards and instead come up with a more local version, task forces worked for more than a year to come up with a new blueprint for what the state’s students should know.

But to Angie Muse, an instructional coach in the Hazelwood school district, the revised standards don’t change much, at least for the English courses she has been involved with for 20 years.