Riverview Gardens School District

Missouri suspends African-American grade school students at a higher rate than any other state in the country.  This was a key finding in a national report issued last week by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA.  But troubled districts have been making some progress.

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.   

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

This story is the third part of A Teachable Moment, a three-part series that profiles how issues raised by events in Ferguson are being discussed in classrooms across the St. Louis region. 

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch has said that a grand jury could decide next month if Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will face charges for fatally shooting Michael Brown. From elected officials to teachers to parents, many have expressed considerable concern about what the reaction to the grand jury's decision will be.

Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

When Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson was a kid, he and some of his buddies got into some mischief.

They were throwing snowballs at passing cars and then ran off to hide. Then, the police officer who patrolled Johnson’s neighborhood caught them.

“So, we put the snowballs behind our backs,” Johnson recalled.    

“Were you guys the ones throwing snowballs?” Johnson said the officer asked.

“We all said ‘no,’ even though we had the snowballs behind our backs,” Johnson said. 

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

State education officials were in north St. Louis County Monday evening, getting an update on steps the Riverview Gardens School District is taking toward ramping up classroom success.

The unaccredited district had a 16.8 percentage point improvement on its state report card for last year, but that was 4.6 percentage points shy of the provisionally accredited range.

To earn a step up in its accreditation status, Superintendent Scott Spurgeon laid out a series of goals for the district in areas that ranged from college and career readiness to reading assessments.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Bernice King began her second visit to Riverview Gardens High School by telling students about her own anger. Her father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was gunned down in his prime. Her uncle, Alfred Daniel Williams King, died amid suspicious circumstances.

King told them about that anger boiling over. She told them about striking a friend in the head with a bottle after an argument. Anxiety filled King while waiting for her friend to wake up after being knocked unconscious.

King told students anger can consume them.

Even though the school transfer issue aroused passionate debate last year, the issue still isn't resolved.
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio

Take a look at a statewide map showing how districts performance has changed between the past two school years, as well as five takeaways from the report cards.

While St. Louis Public Schools and Riverview Gardens have made solid gains in their push toward accreditation, Normandy finds itself in a deeper hole, earning just 7.1 percent of the possible points in Missouri’s latest list of school report cards released Friday.

Don't use this one Brittany Packnett
Teach for America

Let’s say you’ve been a teacher in the Normandy school district for a while and are wondering what’s going to happen to your job when the new state-run Normandy Schools Collaborative takes over on July 1.

If you’re still interested in teaching in the district, here is what Superintendent Ty McNichols had to say in a letter sent out to staff member last week:

UMSL website

Lynn Beckwith remembers very well what happened on May 20, 2010, and how it set into motion a scramble to get the Riverview Gardens schools ready for the coming year.

That was the day Beckwith was named to head the three-member special administrative board that is running the unaccredited north St. Louis County school district.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Five identical bills that would each revamp Missouri's student transfer law were examined Wednesday by a State Senate committee.

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