Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

North Side community school classroom
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

The We Live Here team is still on hiatus, creating new episodes for our second season. Meanwhile, we revisit one of our favorites from season one

A single school can tell us a lot about the health of the community in which it exists. It can also tell us a lot about how systemic problems with transportation, food, housing and crime adversely impact impoverished communities and the health of the people who live there.   

Jennings Superintendent Tiffany Anderson takes her turn as a crossing guard.
Jennings School District

Updated 7:10 p.m. Friday with Anderson being hired in Topeka, her comments: Tiffany Anderson, whose leadership in the Jennings school district since 2012 resulted in its earning full accreditation, will become the new superintendent of schools in Topeka, Kan., starting July 1.

The head of the school board in Topeka, Patrick Woods, made the announcement late Friday. Anderson had been one of two finalists for the job.

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

The chancellor of the University of Missouri-St. Louis says a $15 million hole in the campus’ budget, prompted by reductions in state support and student enrollment, will probably lead to layoffs later this year.

Washington University

Donors to Washington University are giving more than anticipated – and students will be paying more in the fall as well.

The university said Thursday that it is ahead of its timetable for its $2.2 billion fund-raising campaign slated to end on Dec. 31, 2018, so it is raising its goal to $2.5 billion. As of the end of last month, the university said, alumni, parents and others had contributed $2.12 billion to the campaign, which is titled “Leading Together.”

Deer visit the SIU-Edwardsville campus.
Pete Burzynski | Flickr | 2007

The interim chancellor of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville insists that his campus is financially strong and will not close because of the state’s budget stalemate.

But Stephen Hansen wrote to his colleagues at SIUE that he expects the political rhetoric between Gov. Bruce Rauner and lawmakers to escalate as the spending standoff moves toward a critical point.

Ferguson-Florissant parent Redditt Hudson, attorney Dale Ho, and past school candidate Willis Johnson at a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the Ferguson-Florissant schools on December 18.
Diane Balogh | ACLU of Missouri

Does the method of electing the Ferguson-Florissant school board discriminate against African-Americans? Or would proposed changes give them less power than they have now, not more?

After listening to arguments on both sides, it will be up to a federal judge to decide whether board members should be elected from districts, not at large as they are now.

Dwaun Warmack is installed as president of Harris-Stowe State University in April 2015.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

After compiling a solid record of achieving goals needed to get extra money from the state of Missouri, Harris-Stowe State University met only one out of five of the necessary criteria in its most recent evaluation.

Data from the state Department of Higher Education shows that in its first year under President Dwaun Warmack, Harris-Stowe met only the performance target of having a higher percentage of first-time full-time freshmen students successfully complete 24 credit hours.

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

Updated at 12:35 p.m. Thursday with details of search - A committee of more than a dozen people from all four campuses of the University of Missouri will lead the search for a new president of the system.

The board of curators, meeting by teleconference on Wednesday, decided that a search firm would also be hired to find a successor to Tim Wolfe, who resigned his position in November after prolonged protests on the Columbia campus. In the meantime, Mike Middleton will continue serving as acting president.

school buses
Flickr

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri state board of education unanimously approved on Tuesday a framework for an accelerated review of the accreditation status of the Riverview Gardens School District.

But a key question that hangs over the whole process remains unsettled: What happens to students who have transferred from the district under state law if its status is upgraded?

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.
File photo |Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:55 p.m. Monday with Adams not getting L.A. job: St. Louis schools will get another hearing by the state school board Tuesday on their request for an upgrade to full accreditation, while board members will also discuss a framework that could lift Riverview Gardens up to provisional accreditation.

Kelvin Adams 2012
courtesy St. Louis Public Schools

Kelvin Adams, who has been superintendent of the St. Louis Public Schools since 2008, has surfaced as a candidate for the top school job in Los Angeles.

Quoting unnamed sources, the Los Angeles Times said Wednesday that a five-hour meeting to choose a new superintendent Tuesday ended with no consensus. But, it added, “sources have said that the shortlist has included LA Chief Deputy Superintendent Michelle King and St. Louis Superintendent Kelvin Adams.”

Darion Taylor, 15, helps paint a cafeteria mural at Confluence Academy's South City campus. Volunteers gathered to paint base coats for artist Cbabi Bayoc's design, which promotes healthy food.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc is known for painting fathers. But in a new project, he’s painting food.

Vegetables and fruits star in his mural going up in the kindergarten-through-second-grade lunchroom at Confluence Academy-South City, 4235 South Compton Ave.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In August, 9-year-old Jamyla Bolden was fatally shot in north St. Louis County while doing homework in her mother’s bedroom. She was a student at Koch Elementary, part of the Riverview Gardens School District, where school administrators have been working to bring hope to the students coping with the loss of their classmate.

Stephanie Zimmerman

Even as hundreds of students living in the Normandy school district continue transferring to nearby accredited schools, challenges to a court ruling in the longstanding case continue.

The next court date will be Feb. 9 in the Missouri Court of Appeals. At issue is whether the state board of education acted properly in classifying Normandy as accredited when the district became the Normandy Schools Collaborative at the start of the 2014-15 school year.

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
File: 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
Flickr

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.

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