Education

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

Updated at 4:04 p.m. with more on the tuition debate:

Students at the University of Missouri will pay just 0.8 percent more in tuition and fees at the four-campus university system for the coming school year, but the school’s leaders say they need to get more money from the state so they can charge students less.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

The new head of the appointed board in charge of Normandy schools says the board’s plan to search for a new superintendent is designed to find someone who can improve the district’s academic performance.

Andrea Terhune took over as chair of the Normandy Schools Collaborative’s Joint Executive Governing Board last month, when Superintendent Ty McNichols unexpectedly resigned and Charles Pearson stepped down as chair to become interim superintendent.

Eighth-grade communications arts teacher, Kate Berger, leads students through a classroom exercise at South City Preparatory
Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

 

(Updated Feb. 18 with details on South City Prep's new location and the closing of Construction Careers Center High School.)

A stream of eighth graders flowed into Kate Berger’s classroom at South City Preparatory Academy.  College and university banners line classroom walls and hang from ceilings.           

“Find yourself,” the language arts teacher told students.  “Go to where you need to be.”

File photo

As one north St. Louis County school district begins its search for a new superintendent – its fourth leader in a little more than two years – its neighbor is about to decide who will replace a superintendent whose departure created a storm of controversy.

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 29, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri System is doing well, president Tim Wolfe said Thursday, but some extra cash wouldn’t hurt.

“The quantity of students that we have are at all-time highs: 77,000 students. The quality of the students, as measured by their ACT score, now averages 26, which also is an all-time high,” Wolfe told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh. “The financial condition of the University of Missouri System is decent. Decent relative to our balancing the revenue and the expenses with the challenges that we have of keeping tuition low.”

Charles Pearson, seated, talks with Superintendent Ty McNichols.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

As the Normandy Schools Collaborative begins the process of finding a replacement for Superintendent Ty McNichols, its board is finalizing details of a severance package and educators are wondering who might be available to take his place.

As local schools celebrate Catholic Schools Week, the new superintendent of Catholic Education for the Archdiocese of St. Louis said the schools are successful because everyone works together.

Fred Pestello
Stephanie Zimmerman

Saint Louis University officials say the school will have more money to attract and retain African-American students and an increased budget for African-American studies under an agreement that ended a six-day sit-in on the campus in October.

Updating progress on what have become known as the Clock Tower Accords, SLU President Fred Pestello said Monday that since the 13-point agreement was reached with demonstrators who protested on campus after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, many campus groups have met to turn the pledges into reality.

Courtesy Normandy School District

(Updated at 9:32 p.m. with Pearson quotes, resignation statement from McNichols)

Normandy school superintendent Ty McNichols resigned from his post Thursday night after the state-appointed board that runs the district made plans to begin a search for someone to serve in his job.

Charles Pearson, a retired educator who had been serving as chairman of the five-member Joint Executive Governing Board, will take over as interim superintendent. He resigned from the board and was replaced as board president by Andrea Terhune.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will deliver the annual State of the State address on Wednesday night. Ahead of the speech, “St. Louis on the Air” asked its listeners to weigh in on what they want to hear from the governor.

Following are some of the responses we received. They have been edited for length and clarity.

Pam E.: I want to see Medicaid expanded, legalization of marijuana and improved infrastructure.

Normandie Golf Course in north St. Louis County has been saved, for at least 10 years, but some of the officials who had worried about its future aren’t completely at ease.

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

The University of Missouri-St. Louis says its second-semester enrollment drop won’t be as dire as first thought, but a hiring freeze for the campus remains in effect.

Teachers Kimberly Merrill, far left, and Catherine Moore, Home Works executive director Karen Kalish, and principal Cameron Coleman discuss the Home Works teacher home visit program with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 15, 2015.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Positive relationships between teachers, students and parents lead to success. That’s the idea behind Home Works’ teacher home visit program.

Teachers in the Home Works program attend two training session, then work in pairs to go to two home visits each year for each student. Twenty seven St. Louis-area schools are following the program: three early childhood centers, 17 elementary schools, six middle schools and two high schools, program founder Karen Kalish told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday.

After President Barack Obama announced a plan last week for two years of free tuition at community colleges, "St. Louis on the Air" asked its listeners to weigh in on the proposal.

President Barack Obama took to Facebook and Vine last week to announce his free community college proposal.

Tiffany Anderson appears before the state board of education in Jefferson City Tuesday.
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Updated at 11:33 a.m. with testimony at board meeting:

Riding the crest of improvement on the state’s annual evaluation, Jennings Superintendent Tiffany Anderson sees full accreditation and further gains in the future for the north St. Louis County district.

And Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon, whose district is now the only one in Missouri that is unaccredited, says his staff have laid the foundation for classroom success.   

St. Louis lawyer Marie Kenyon discusses her new role leading the Archdiocese of St. Louis' Peace and Justice Commission with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 12, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Last week, St. Louis attorney Marie Kenyon was named the director of the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ new Peace and Justice Commission.

The issues Kenyon expects to take on with that commission, including poverty, race and education, are the same issues she has dealt with as a lawyer.

President Barack Obama’s proposal to provide free community college tuition for some students who meet certain standards won praise from some educators, but skeptics wondered whether it was the best way for tax dollars to be spent on education.

Obama announced the proposal Friday during a visit to a community college in Knoxville, Tenn., a state with a plan that is similar to what the president is expected to announce in greater detail in his State of the Union address later this month.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
Washington University

Now that adjunct instructors at Washington University have voted to join a union, they have to figure out exactly what improvements they want their new status to bring.

On Monday, the National Labor Relations Board announced the election results. The proposal to join the Service Employees International Union won by a vote of 138-111. Afterward, the union’s Adjunct Action project sent out an email headed “Victory!”

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

Part-time faculty members at Washington University have voted to unionize in an effort to improve their salary, working conditions and stability of employment.

Ballots counted at the National Labor Relations Board Monday showed the proposal passed by a vote of 138-111, with 18 contested ballots that would not affect the outcome of the election. Just over 400 instructors at the university were eligible to vote, with a simple majority of those voting needed for passage.

Courtesy St. Louis Public Schools

Members of the Special Administrative Board (SAB) for St. Louis Public Schools — which has overseen the district since it lost state accreditation in 2007 — are meeting to develop a plan for returning authority over the district to the disempowered, elected board.  

The first meeting is being held this evening and will be a closed session to discuss legal and legislative issues related to transitioning authority.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
Washington University

As part-time instructors at Washington University ponder whether to join a union, two major questions have arisen about the campaign.

St. Louis Public Schools

When the Missouri General Assembly convenes next month, education will take its usual place as the center of concern for many lawmakers. Here are some of the bills that have been pre-filed for the upcoming legislative session.

Student transfers

Lowell Kruse
Department of Higher Education

Like a beginning freshman plotting out college courses so she can have a marketable degree four years down the road, the Missouri Department of Higher Education is embarking on a new planning process to make sure students leave campus with skills to help the state – and themselves -- move ahead.

But when the plan is finished, the final exam question will be this: Will its recommendations actually be used on the state’s campuses?

comedy nose | Flickr

By April 2013, the latest state data showed the number of homeless students in St. Louis Public Schools had doubled over the past three school years.

At the time, Deidre Thomas-Murray, the coordinator of students in transition, described what these numbers look like in practice.  

The Normandy Schools Collaborative has hired Diana Bourisaw, former superintendent for the St. Louis Public Schools and the Fox School district, for a six-month consulting contract to help improve the district’s lagging academic performance.

Margie Vandeven
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

(Updated at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 17, with news conference)

Margie Vandeven may be Missouri’s new commissioner for elementary and secondary education, but she’ll enter the job at the first of the year concentrating on some old problems.

One of them, she told reporters in a conference call Wednesday after her unanimous selection by the state board of education, is working for changes in Missouri’s student transfer law, to help protect the budgets of districts whose students are eligible to leave.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, spent Tuesday listening to St. Louis area students’ thoughts on race, equity and trust following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown.

It’s a day Duncan said he’ll never forget.

“The division between young people and the police is huge,” Duncan said. “The division along race in this community is huge. The division along educational opportunity being based on where you live, your zip code, is huge. The inequities are huge.”

Missouri Charter Public School Commission holds its organizational meeting on Dec. 16, 2014.  Alicia Herald (back row, right) was elected commission chair.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri's recently formed Charter Public School Commission is preparing to begin operations next year.

Mike Jones talks with education commissioner Chris Nicastro.
File photo: Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

When Chris Nicastro was chosen as Missouri’s education commissioner in 2009, her experience with school districts in north St. Louis County was cited as a big factor.

Now, as the Missouri state board of education prepares to interview five finalists to succeed Nicastro, they have a list of four white men who have been superintendents in Joplin, Branson, Springfield and Wentzville, plus a white woman who has been actively involved in north county as deputy commissioner but has never served as a superintendent.

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