Peter Herschend

St. Louis Public Schools

(Updated with interviews from all candidates.)

The Missouri state board of education has narrowed to five the field of candidates seeking to become the state’s next commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

After reviewing 12 applications in closed session Friday, the board announced Monday that it would interview:

Peter Herschend
DESE website

The Missouri state board of education has a field of 14 candidates from which to choose the state’s new commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

After the board’s open meeting in Branson Thursday, where it approved added responsibility for the appointed school board that is running the Normandy Schools Collaborative, board president Peter Herschend said in a telephone interview that the applications of the 14 people who want to succeed retiring Commissioner Chris Nicastro would be reviewed in a closed session on Friday.

File photo

After complaints from teachers and others about how the initial year of the Normandy Schools Collaborative has gone so far, the state board of education wants to give more authority to the local appointed board.

Peter Herschend
DESE website

JEFFERSON CITY -- The Missouri state board of education voted Tuesday to put the search for a new commissioner on a slower track, then had a lengthy discussion about one of the big issues the next commissioner will face – turning around Normandy schools.

Rather than the accelerated process that board president Peter Herschend had favored, in which a successor to Chris Nicastro would have been chosen this week, the board bowed to objections from a variety of education groups that said such a fast track would have left them out of the process.

Dale

JEFFERSON CITY -- Compared with the clamor and criticism that has accompanied the debate over Common Core State Standards in recent months and years, Monday’s hearing into the topic by the state board of education was positively tame.

Peter Herschend
DESE website

Updated 1:25 p.m. Wednesday with letter from MNEA president:

Amid indications that the Missouri state board of education may choose a new commissioner next week, school officials throughout the state have urged it to open up the process and consider a wider range of candidates.

The state board already has discussed in closed session the process to replace Chris Nicastro, who has announced her retirement as of the end of December. And the board has several more hours of closed session talks set for its meeting Monday and Tuesday in Jefferson City.

DESE website

Despite a growing chorus for Chris Nicastro to leave her post as Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, the head of the state’s school board gave her a vote of confidence Monday and defended the selection of a consultant currently looking into the Kansas City schools.

Nicastro has come under fire in recent weeks, first for her consultation with an education advocacy group on its initiative petition that included changes in teacher tenure, then from a Kansas City Star story on Sunday.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:57 p.m. with comments from DESE's Margie Vandeven; Peter Herschend, State Board of Education President; and Chris Nicastro, Mo. Education Commissioner.

St. Louis schools are no longer unaccredited, following a unanimous vote today by the State Board of Education. The struggling district, which has been under state control for five years, will now have provisional, but not full, accreditation.

knittymarie / Flickr

St. Louis public schools will find out tomorrow if they’ll regain at least provisional accreditation from the State Board of Education.

St. Louis schools lost their accreditation five years ago and were soon after placed under state control, but they have improved over the past two years.  In 2010 they only met 3 out of 14 performance standards, with six being the minimum require for provisional accreditation.  Last year they met the minimum six, and this year they’ve met seven performance standards.  State Board Member Peter Herschend (R) says, though, there’s no guarantee the vote will go St. Louis’s way.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
(via Google Maps screen capture)

The Missouri Board of Education has voted unanimously to strip the accreditation from another St. Louis-area school district.

Normandy schools had been under provisional accreditation for the past year, but had been “on thin ice,” in the words of State Board Member Peter Herschend (R, Branson).  He says the district has again failed to meet the minimum nine out of 14 performance standards required for accreditation.

“If you look at the academic results in all of the core content areas, save one, they are at the bottom end of attainment," Herschend said.  "Do I think that’s significant?  You’re damn right I think that’s significant!”

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