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Education

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 24, 2011 - Richard Rosenfeld and his wife were enjoying a sidewalk meal at the now closed Riddles' restaurant in the Delmar Loop one evening last summer when an unsettling incident occurred. It began with the sights and sounds of dozens of noisy teenagerss running up and down Delmar Boulevard. While somewhat amused by this high-energy scene, Rosenfeld said he was worried about the reckless way the youngsters weaved in and out of street traffic.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 22, 2011 - The Special Administrative Board that runs the St. Louis Public Schools was all set to debate a budget that included the closing of three schools and the likely reduction of teachers and other staff members.

Letters went out to those involved in the three targeted schools -- Stevens Middle School, Bunche Middle School and Big Picture High School -- and teachers' union representatives were ready to speak out about the possible layoffs.

Editor's Weekly: An online Pulitzer

Apr 20, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 20, 2011 - Congratulations to ProPublica for winning the first Pulitzer Prize ever given for reporting that did not appear in print. For those who still had any doubt, this is proof that digital nonprofit news organizations offer a promising future for good journalism.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 20, 2011 - When Missouri education officials try for a third time to come up with a new set of standards to judge the state's school districts, the changes will be more a shift in tactics than in goals.

That's the judgment of Peter Herschend of Branson, a longtime member of the state Board of Education and its current president. As expected, the board voted Wednesday to approve a surprise request from Chris Nicastro, commissioner of elementary and secondary education, to scrap a proposal put together earlier this year and send it back for further revisions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 18, 2011 - As Congress works toward reauthorizing and redefining the federal government's role in education, Sen. Claire McCaskill is sure of one thing: No Child Left Behind needs to be left behind.

"I have never had anyone come up to me and say they really love No Child Left Behind," the Missouri Democrat told a group of about a dozen invited teachers, parents, administrators, students and others Monday morning at an education discussion in the Fort Zumwalt School District in O'Fallon.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 14, 2011 - Should teachers be paid based on how well their students perform on standardized tests?

Mary Armstrong, president of Local 420 of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents teachers in the St. Louis Public Schools, has a terse and ready answer for that: "All that makes the teacher do is teach the test or cheat."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 14, 2011 - The Missouri attorney general's office is now keeping track of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, a spokesperson said this week.

Nanci Gonder, Attorney General Chris Koster's press secretary, notes that the Missouri Human Rights Act does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and that the state's Human Rights Commission has no data on these complaints.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 12, 2011 - The buzz is starting in St. Louis - the equipment is primed, the players are working on their best moves and the doors are ready to open to the public. Oh, I'm not talking baseball, I'm talking chess. Chess's star is rising, and St. Louis is fast becoming a chess hub to newbies, veterans and future chess legends via the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 11, 2011 - Funny as it sounds, there is only one show where audiences can be serenaded by Jesus in disco pants, and that show is the musical, "Godspell," which was recently performed by Francis Howell North.

Commentary: The world won't end

Apr 10, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 10, 2011 - Their college applications were in, awaiting the decisions of strangers. In the meantime, the girls were acting in plays, doing their math, experimenting in physics, writing their research papers. In my class they were reading and writing. Immortal stories by Hemingway, Welty, Fitzgerald, Anderson. Plays by Miller and Williams.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 4, 2011 - The filibuster now taking place in the Missouri Senate could hurt the pocketbooks of St. Louis area school districts, which stand to gain a large chunk of the $189 million in federal grant money that some Republican legislators want to refuse.

Cappies: 'Galaxy' guide is perfect for high schoolers

Apr 4, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 4, 2011 - In a time of life when raging hormones and AP physics collide, how can a new freshman make it through the treacherous battlegrounds of high school without being shoved in a dumpster? Northwest High School answers this question with a little help from clubs, cliques and the lunch lady in its play, "The High- Schooler's Guide to the Galaxy."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 27, 2011 - "How many of you have used Wikipedia before?"  Jimmy Wales, a founder of Wikipedia, asked the audience gathered in Washington University's Graham Chapel on Friday. Of the more than 500 people who came to hear his speech on "Democracy and the Internet," just about everyone in the room raised their hands – the response, Wales said, he fully expected.

Commentary: Educators struggle to treat autoimmune diseases

Mar 16, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 16, 2011 - I recently went for an eye examine. One of the technicians assisting and testing me told me she was a teacher. I learned she had taught in a North County school district and then in a St. Charles County school district. She remarked how much she loved teaching and the kids and had wanted to be a teacher from third grade. She taught high school, but I failed to ask in what subject.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 15, 2011 - In July, R. Marie Griffith, 43, will become director of Washington University's John C. Danforth Center for Religion & Politics. She brings to St. Louis varied academic and leadership experience at top schools.

Former three-term Sen. Jack Danforth, R-Mo., announced in December 2009 a $30 million endowment gift for the center from his family's Danforth Foundation. Danforth is also an Episcopal priest.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 10, 2011 - In the tiny, circumscribed world of my rather chaotic childhood, the public library in our city was a place of refuge and serenity for me.

When I think of that place, I have some gauzy impression of its imposing classical facade, with all the suggestions of permanence and stability such architecture provides us, but the recollections of the Little Rock Public Library I cherish most are of the children's department, which was on a lower level of the great Carnegie pile.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 7, 2011 - The new president of the University of Missouri system should be an enthusiastic supporter of higher education and possess keen insights into business.

The ideal candidate would know how to manage a large, complex organization and get along well with outside groups.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 3, 2011 - Bold and monumental evidence of the prehistory of St. Louis was pretty much obliterated by 19th-century residents of European ancestry. There were, for example, large concentrations of man-made mounds along the riverfront. Only one remains, the so-called Sugarloaf Mound at 4420 Ohio St., visible from Interstate 55 in south St. Louis. The rest of the mounds were destroyed. To give those who plowed them down the benefit of the doubt, let's just say their destructive tendencies arose out of ignorance rather than barbaric intention or simple greed.

Review: Test your perceptions at Los Caminos

Mar 3, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 3, 2011 - At Los Caminos, Brookhart Jonquil's "Physical Spectrum" is a group of four works, all 2011, that deal with reflections, transparency, the real and unreal, and our perception of objects in space.

The mirrored plexiglas letters ECNALUBMA are embedded in one wall, at roughly a driver's eye level -- it generates the momentary disorientation one experiences seeing "Ambulance" written in reverse on an oncoming emergency vehicle.

The financial burden of graduate education

Mar 2, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 2, 2011 - After graduating from law school at Washington University in St. Louis in the spring of 2009, Jennifer Belmont Jennings owed the federal government $170,237.87 in student loan repayments. She borrowed $157,000 in student loans to pay for three years of law school and accrued an additional $13,000 in interest while in school.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 1, 2011 - In recent months, Stephanie Krauss essentially has given birth twice. Son Justice, now 3 months old, was the product of "19 hours of unmedicated labor." Shearwater High School, a charter school in north St. Louis now midway through its first year, took considerably longer.

Krauss takes strong, evident pride in both.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 28, 2011 - Mark Lenihan is a first-year law student at DePaul University. He graduated from Rockhurst University in May 2009 but did not enter law school until the fall 2010. In between, Lenihan served in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, working as a teacher in Camden, N.J.

"After undergrad I thought that I wanted to be a lawyer but wasn't sure. Who is sure after undergrad?" he asked.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 28, 2011 - "I AM RETIRED NOW -- THAT MEANS DON'T ASK ME TO DO A DAMN THING."

The plaque that holds this quote rests on the desk of Mary Spencer, a 73-year-old retired St. Louis Public School teacher.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 24, 2011 - Like most parents, Vicki Abeles wanted her children to have things she never had.

And they did -- headaches, stomach aches, sleepless nights and a seemingly endless round of responsibilities and activities, all tied to a high-pressure school atmosphere that said if you aren't the best, you're not trying hard enough.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 22, 2011 - Not long ago, readers of a story that said the superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools would be serving for six years could be forgiven for thinking it was a misprint.

Shouldn't that be six superintendents in one year, not one superintendent for six years?

Commentary: School ideas to save and to scrap

Feb 18, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 18, 2011 - Earlier this year, St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams announced initiatives, called "Creating Great Options," that include district-sponsored charter schools, closing traditional schools for poor performance, investment in programs for teen parents and preschoolers and an increase in school choice through an open enrollment program for 8th graders.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 15, 2011 - Two Missouri members of the congressional Center Aisle Caucus -- U.S. Reps. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, and Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis -- will discuss a "Vision for Civility" at 4 p.m., Thurs., Feb. 24 in at Washington University.

The event will be held in the main dining room of the Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center and is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics. The moderator will be the center's director, Wayne Fields, who is also the university's Lynne Cooper Harvey distinguished professor of English in Arts & Sciences.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 14, 2011 - It's been half a century, yet black children are still relegated to unequal education.

How can we prove that black parents love their children and are invested in their educational success? What words would better explain that black parents do not wish harm upon their children, they do not pray for poverty, abuse, neglect or incarceration for them. Is there a reason some kids get to have a good education, but others do not?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 11, 2011 - A new report on charter schools in Missouri presents an interesting lesson: It may be easier to increase the number of charters in Missouri if educators paid greater attention to closing down some of the ones that already exist.

The report, titled "Delivering on the Promise: How Missouri can grow excellent, accountable public charter schools," says Missouri's limitation of charters to just St. Louis and Kansas City discourages national firms from coming to the state; it also says that a spotlight on poorly performing charter schools has hurt the state's effort to expand and improve.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 10, 2011 - Vera Parkin is both consummate professional and a sprite, the sort of person who makes you not only listen but also smile when she sits down at the piano to play. In December, when she jumped in sort of at the last moment to accompany chorus rehearsals for the Beacon's production of H.M.S. Pinafore on New Year's Day, we producers breathed a collective sign of relief, along with our listening and smiling.

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