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Education

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 28, 2011 - What comes to mind when you hear the word "cartel"?

You may think first of oil barons or drug lords, but if you had been part of the audience at a screening of a documentary at the Tivoli Thursday night, a new image would be added: public school classrooms.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 27, 2011 - President Barack Obama's emphasis on education in Tuesday night's State of the Union address was welcome to St. Louis educators who appreciated the recognition he gave to the role of teachers and the importance of good schools in sharpening U.S. competitiveness.

Commentary: Going backward in schools

Jan 24, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 24, 2011 - Get a bunch of psychologists together who are also mothers, and there is bound to be scrutiny related to anything our children might come into contact with -- namely, the education system. So, when my good friend began expressing concern about the shifts in her local school district (Wake County, Raleigh, N.C.), I listened attentively but failed to fully grasp the implications.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 21, 2011 - If you can't beat 'em, sponsor 'em.

That may become the new attitude by the St. Louis Public Schools toward charter schools, the publicly funded alternatives that the city school system has long treated warily, if not like an outright enemy, for draining students and resources from the cash-strapped, unaccredited district.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 18, 2011 - Raising a child with autism or other learning disabilities is always a challenge.

Dealing with trying economic times, and struggling to navigate the often bewildering maze of education bureaucracy at the same time, make a tough task that much harder.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 18, 2011 - Last Saturday, Jan. 15, during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, Angela da Silva and the National Black Tourism Network re-enacted a slave auction on the steps of the Old Courthouse. The event was cosponsored by the National Park Service, the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation and other groups deeply concerned with educating the public about the experience of slavery in St. Louis and the fight for emancipation and equal rights for African Americans during the Civil War era, 150 years ago.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 18, 2011 - Charles Darwin only spent 10 days in the Galapagos Islands.

On that score Patricia Parker's got him beat. Though she seems at home enough in her fourth-floor office at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the 60-year-old biology department chair has been to the equatorial Pacific island chain at least once a year for the past 14 years for periods ranging from one to three months.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 17, 2011 - I previously posted about the difference between "visual" and "interactive" after the election. A very good New York Times graphic making the rounds was being called a great example of interactive storytelling. It had a next button.

By that standard, I said, a book or a newspaper is interactive because you need to turn the page. Something that's interactive can show different levels of complexity, but often requires the viewer to dig out the information he's interested in.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 17, 2011 - Merdean Fielding Gales remembers feeling helpless and angry when Tyrone Thompson, a mentor to many youngsters, was himself murdered by a youngster during an apparent robbery seven months ago in Black Jack.

The incident was all the more disturbing to Gales because she is a close friend from childhood of Thompson's mother, former state Rep. Betty Thompson of University City.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 12, 2011 - More than four years after her death, legendary dancer, choreographer, anthropologist, author and social activist Katherine Dunham is assisting a St. Louis graduate student as she pursues her own career in the arts.

Antionette Dickens, who attends University of Missouri-St. Louis, has received the first Katherine Dunham Internship from St. Louis' Regional Arts Commission. The internship, designed to help African Americans forge a path in arts management, includes a $2,500 stipend.

Resolved: Debate lifts students' abilities

Jan 11, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 11, 2011 - The high school level Urban Debate League, now in its third year in St. Louis, has almost doubled its membership from last year as a result of extra energy devoted to bringing in new people.

Ravi Rao, executive director of St. Louis' Urban Debate League, said his efforts were prompted by studies that correlate participating in debate during high school with job retention rates and skill improvement.

This article first appered in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 7, 2011 - Just short of three years from the day he moved from the business world into academia, Gary Forsee said Friday he was leaving his post as president of the University of Missouri system to help his wife as she recovers from cancer.

Forsee went on temporary leave Dec. 2 shortly after his wife, Sherry, was diagnosed following an emergency appendectory. In a statement Friday, announcing that he was leaving his position permanently, he said she "has had subsequent successful surgery, finding no further signs of cancer, and will soon begin a treatment regimen to ensure she remains cancer-free.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 5, 2011 - They have bees at Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School, and we're not talking about the spelling and geography contests you'll find at most elementary or middle schools.

We're talking REAL bees.

Buzzing bees.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 1, 2011 - Year end is a time to reflect — and to think ahead. In the holiday spirit, the Show-Me Institute has compiled five New Year's resolutions for state officials, to promote better government for 2011 and beyond. Taken together, these policy changes have the potential to propel Missouri's income and job growth into the front ranks.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 27, 2010 - Clive Coleman says he likes challenges -- and he's had plenty to face in his first six months as superintendent of the Riverview Gardens School District.

Before Coleman even took office on July 1, the state of Missouri had moved to take over the unaccredited district, putting it in the hands of a three-member Special Administrative Board. In essence, the old district ceased to exist. All contracts had to be redone, all personnel had to be rehired -- or not -- and all school assignments had to be remade before the start of classes in late August.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 21, 2010 - Contemporary furniture, a rich color scheme, thousands of books and years of planning have resulted in "Teen Alley," the newest addition to the Florissant Valley branch of the St. Louis County Library system.

When Laura Kasak became Florissant Valley branch manager in July 2008, her experience from more than six years with the St. Louis County Library system told her that this library was missing something.

(Flickr Creative Commons User aka Kath)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. –

UPDATED 4:20 p.m. Dec. 14:

In a press release, the Illinois State Police announced that they have been asked by the Springfield Police Department to conduct an investigation into Davlin's death. The Illinois State Police will also be performing the autopsy on Dec. 15.

UPDATED 3:54 p.m. Dec. 14: From the Associated Press:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 13, 2010 - For decades, Mae Duggan has worked to make tax money available for parents to be able to send their children to whatever school -- public, private or parochial -- that they think would be best for their children.

As a founder of the group Citizens for Educational Freedom -- whose aim is summed up in the slogan "Let the tax dollar follow the scholar" -- Duggan has pushed to keep the idea of school vouchers on the public agenda, even as other alternatives, like charter schools, grabbed the educational spotlight. Starting in the St. Louis area, the organization has grown nationwide.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 10, 2010 - A song from the Broadway show "Avenue Q" asks, "What do you do with a B.A. in English?"

At some point, the University of Missouri may be asking whether English majors should be paying different tuition from those going for degrees in chemistry or political science.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 6, 2010 - Earlier this year, the Missouri Supreme Court shook up the public school establishment in the St. Louis area with a ruling that could lead to students from unaccredited districts like St. Louis and Riverview Gardens having the right to transfer, free of charge, to neighboring accredited districts -- and the districts having to take them.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 29, 2010 - I ventured to my childhood home over Thanksgiving. As my trips surrounding holidays tend to, this one included time spent with friends made in high school.

Now scattered throughout the country, our group is doing things so varied it doesn't seem possible our common background could have adequately prepared each of us. Our conversation turned to those "good old days," absent friends and former teachers.

Letter: Teacher statistics aren't a con

Nov 24, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 24, 2010 - In his Nov. 17 opinion piece, "Superman Runs a Con," writer Peter Downs made a claim regarding research I conducted and Director Davis Guggenheim used in his motion picture "Waiting for Superman."

Downs said this of me: "He never asked any school districts how many teachers they fired in any year. All he counted were the number of teachers who appealed their firings to a state appeals board and lost. He doesn't know how often teachers get fired in Illinois or anywhere else and neither does Guggenheim."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 17, 2010 - The state Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the authority of the three-member appointed board over the St. Louis Public Schools for another three years.

The board accepted the recommendation of Commissioner Chris Nicastro, who in turn was acting on the report submitted by a committee headed by William Danforth and Frankie Freeman. That committee, whose report led to the Special Administrative Board first being named in 2007, was reconvened last year by Nicastro to come up with suggestions for the future governance of the schools.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 16, 2010 - Washington University is one of the top colleges in the country, so it's no surprise that its student health insurance plan, compared to those on other campuses, is better than average.

Every full-time student at the university's Danforth Campus is automatically enrolled in the school's student health insurance plan, an annual policy that costs $575 and pays for 80 percent of covered medical expenses at the campus health center.

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