Missouri’s commissioner of education has been buffeted by two controversies that have led to calls for her resignation but also expressions of support from her bosses on the state board of education.
To explain the controversy swirling around Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s embattled commissioner of elementary and secondary education, state school board member Mike Jones invokes the words of a legendary Texan, Jim Hightower:
The only things you find in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadillos.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released its Annual Performance Report for Missouri school districts last week. It is the first year in which schools were assessed under new standards. The results disappointed many local leaders and leave plenty of room for improvement for a number of St. Louis area schools, including St. Louis Public Schools.
The Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling on Breitenfeld v. School District of Clayton on June 11 reversed a lower court decision and found that state statute 167.131does not violate the Hancock Amendment. The statute provides that an unaccredited school district must pay tuition for students to attend school in another accredited district in the same or an adjoining county.
Chris Guinther is wrapping up her final month as President of the Missouri chapter of the National Education Association. She’s led the teachers’ union since 2007, and will return to the classroom full-time at Francis Howell schools in St. Charles. St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin sat down with Guinther recently, where she talked about the challenges she says are facing Missouri’s public schools:
Some good news that reflects positively on Missouri’s public schools
The average ACT score for Missouri high school students is 21.6, a half a point higher than the national average of 21.1. Despite having the same average score as last year, Missouri’s ranking among the 50 states edged up slightly from 27th to 26th. The highest possible score is 36 and the lowest is one.
The US Department of Education is waiving all No Child Left Behind requirements for Missouri schools.
The federal law requires students to meet proficiency standards in reading and math by 2014. Missouri applied for a waiver after roughly 18 percent of districts in the state failed to meet yearly academic goals.