Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

As Missouri school districts await state test scores they should have received months ago, some administrators said they're getting frustrated with the delay.

“I don’t have the data right now for math and reading to even make a determination as to whether the things we invested in last year are making a difference,” Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell said.

Ferguson-Florissant Board of Education President Courtney Graves wipes tears Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, while discussing options for closing schools in the district.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

All three high schools in the Ferguson-Florissant School District will remain open but a number of other buildings will close.

The Ferguson-Florissant Board of Education approved one of three proposed redistricting plans Wednesday night, opting for one that preserves its high schools but shutters other buildings, including the historic Vogt school.

Students walk down a hallway of Lift for Life Academy, which includes an old bank vault door Life Academy. The charter school opened in the former Manufacturer's Bank and Trust Company building in Kosciusko in 2000.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

When St. Elizabeth Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school closed in 2013, some of the alumnae and former staff wanted to keep the educational tradition alive with a charter school.

But that building wasn't available and no matter how hard they looked they just couldn't find the right space, said Jane Keuss, who wanted to co-found the planned Tessera Hall Academy.

University of Missouri-St. Louis Provost Kristin Sobolik and Chancellor Tom George joined host Don Marsh. | 10/3/18
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is embarking on a five-year strategic plan.

“It reflects where we want to be and what we want to focus on,” explained Kristin Sobolik, the university’s provost and executive vice chancellor, who joined UMSL in May 2017.

The five areas of focus are: student success, research and creative works, community engagement and economic development, inclusive excellence, and planning, operations and stewardship.

St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Ryan Delaney joined Friday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh went behind the headlines to talk with St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Ryan Delaney about charter schools in the St. Louis area.

The conversation is a follow up to last week’s segment on how charter schools in the area became successful. And while some thrive, others struggle.

Richard Gaines, center, of the Special Administrative Board, speaks during  a joint meeting with the St. Louis Elected School Board Tuesday, March 13, 2018.
File | Wiley Price | St. Louis American

St. Louis Public Schools’ budgeting process is too insular for parents and teachers to understand and contribute to, a group of north St. Louis residents claim.

That group, under the banner Better Budgets, Better Schools, will launch a letter writing and advocacy campaign this weekend to call for more transparency in how SLPS spends its money.

Lift for Life Academy's Brooke Johnson reacts after scoring a point in a high school girls' volleyball game Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. It was Lift for Life's first home sporting event in its 18-year history.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

After nearly two decades of practices in borrowed space and games far away, Lift for Life Academy held its first home sporting event Wednesday.

“This is a huge deal for us. We’ve been waiting — gosh, since we opened we’ve wanted a gym,” said the high school girls’ volleyball coach Tommy Devitt.

Students take an algebra quiz TuesStudents take an algebra quiz Tuesday at Lutheran HIgh  School North in north St. Louis day at Luthern Middle School North in north St. Louis County. The parochial school is planning to add middle school grades next fall.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Lutheran High School North will add middle grades onto its campus in north St. Louis County next year, even as nearby Lutheran elementary schools struggle to attract enough students to stay open.

There are families looking for a more structured, Christian-based environment for middle school levels, school leaders said.

Cast a Line | Flickr

Funding for running school buses in Missouri could return to state funding goals within five years if the state education department’s request to the legislature is fulfilled.

Missouri education officials outlined a $6.3 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year to the state Board of Education Tuesday, which asks state lawmakers for more transportation aid and per-student funding as part of a $140 million increase in its budget.

(L-R) Engin Blackstone, Christie Huck and Stella Erondu are leaders of St. Louis area charter schools. They joined St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh to talk about the success of their schools in the region.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

For students in underserved school districts, charter schools can prove to be an important educational option. Some charter schools fail, but others thrive.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with leaders of three St. Louis charter schools about how they have sought to achieve success and what charter schools have to offer local communities.

Peter Herschend listens to a presentation Thursday, June 14, 2018. He was appointed back to the Missouri State Board of Education this week after first serving from 1991 to 2017.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Sept. 17 at 11:30 a.m. with comments from State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed — State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed objected to one of the governor’s four appointments to the Missouri State Board of Education, leaving Peter Herschend off the board after just three meetings.

Nasheed, D-St. Louis, held up a vote on Herschend Friday during a flurry of board appointments as part of a joint-veto and special session of the legislature. Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, eventually withdrew the nomination.

File photo I Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

During a statewide tour on Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he wants work with lawmakers to fix two bills during next week’s special session.

Parson vetoed a bill to increase STEM education in high school and another to expand alternative prosecution for drug abusers, known as drug courts. Despite the vetoes, Parson is making it clear he still supports the spirit of the laws and would rather see them reshaped than overridden by lawmakers as currently written.

Julie Dubray, co-author of the children's book "Goodnight St. Louis," reads to students at Koch Elementary Schools on March 2, 2017.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Kelli Unnerstall’s son showed signs of dyslexia in kindergarten but was not formally diagnosed until fourth grade. In the meantime, “his frustration with school was growing every year,” she said.

“He hated reading. We were worried about him focusing. And unfortunately for my son, he was exhibiting all the characteristics of dyslexia back in kindergarten,” said Unnerstall, who is a co-founder of Decoding Dyslexia Missouri, a parent-advocacy group that pushed for the law.

Starting this school year, kindergarten through third graders in all Missouri public schools will go through a brief screening for warning signs of dyslexia. It’s part of a 2016 law that advocates say will give students the help they need sooner.

Sally Gacheru, center, tosses a ball to a child in Sakutiek, Kenya. Gacheru, who was born in Kenya but moved to St. Louis four years ago, was part of a service trip back home for fellow immigrant teens this month.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

It hit them that they were back home as soon as they were off they off the plane and in the crowded Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

“And there was a long queue [at customs], a long, long queue. And I just knew I was in Kenya right there,” Victor Rotich said, days later and hours away from the capital, in the small village of Sakutiek.

Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield donated $50 million to Saint Louis University to improve the school's standing as a top tier research institution. The gift is the largest in the university's 200-year history.
Steve Dolan | Saint Louis University

Local philanthropists Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield are donating $50 million to Saint Louis University to help bolster the school’s research efforts.

The gift announced Tuesday is the largest in the school’s 200-year history.

LA Johnson | NPR

Like many states, Illinois is facing a teacher shortage.

The Illinois State Board of Education estimates more than 2,000 positions remained vacant during the 2016-17 school year, including teaching, administrative and support staff.

Earlier this month, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a slew of legislation intended to alleviate the state’s teacher shortage. But some teachers and union leaders doubt the measures are enough.

House Republicans talk during the last day of the legislative session. May 17, 2017
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri public school teachers educate their students on civics and the workings of government, but those same teachers aren’t allowed to participate in governing the state.

Missouri is one of four states where active public school teachers cannot also serve in their state legislature, according to a review of National Conference of State Legislatures data by Education Week.

Marcus Wilson, the executive director for the Monsanto YMCA, gathers with players in their prayer circle. On Saturdays, Wilson allows players to play basketball for free to allow the players a safe space away from violence.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

College basketball coaches from across Missouri are coming together to discuss the importance of leadership and how they recruit incoming student athletes, just in time for the new school year.

These issues are among several topics that will be discussed at the first annual Coaches Luncheon on Aug. 27, where regional NCAA Division I basketball coaches will  discuss the issues and strengths they see in both students and coaches.

Tenele Griffon waits Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, to have fingerprints taken for a background check in order to start a new job driving school buses in Hazelwood. Griffon and other educators waited more than six hours to have the mandatory checks completed.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Tenele Griffon rested his head on an umbrella as he sat on a wooden bench at the end of a line of people in DuBourg Hall at Saint Louis University. He was supposed to start his new job as a bus driver in Hazelwood Monday. Instead, he spent the first half of the week trying to complete his mandatory background check.

Last week Griffon went to the places that used to record fingerprints, only to learn they no longer had a state contract. He arrived at the only location in St. Louis fingerprinting people for background checks shortly after 10 a.m., only to find dozens of people ahead of him in line.

Several Missouri school districts arm their employees to prevent mass shootings. More schools in the state are considering it following a school shooting last month.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri law adopted four years ago to arm school staff was used for the first time this summer. It’s a step one school district took to increase security after a debate on protecting students flared this year.

The school massacre in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead in February kicked off a nationwide debate over arming teachers to protect against future attacks. This summer one Missouri school sent two employees through a certified police academy training program to become authorized School Protection Officers, allowing them to carry concealed firearms on school grounds, according to the Department of Public Safety.

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