Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Education

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 1, 2009 - In a decision handed down today, the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that the state's public school funding formula crafted in 2004 is constitutional. The ruling knocks down arguments by an unusual coalition of rural, suburban and urban districts that had contended that the state was underfunding its public schools.

More than 250 of the state's 523 school districts participated in the case. The suit challenged both the adequacy and the fairness of how Missouri pays for public education.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 28, 2009 - Education Secretary Arne Duncan says St. Louis is "putting all the right building blocks in place" to become a successful school system. His assessment came during a visit Thursday to high-performing Lexington Elementary School, 5030 Lexington Ave.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 26, 2009 - In spite of sluggish economic conditions -- or perhaps because of them -- many colleges in Missouri are reporting slight increases in enrollment this fall.

Robert B. Stein, commissioner of higher education for Missouri, said in a statement that the higher enrollment in Missouri's colleges was the "silver lining in the cloud overshadowing the economy."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 25, 2009 - His name was John Berry Meachum, but in a sense that wasn't his name at all. That was the name of the man who owned him. When African slaves were brought to this country against their will, they lost all their identity, their history, their music and their stories.

According to his own story, which he wrote after he learned his letters, John Berry Meachum was born a slave in May of 1789, the year that the country received its Constitution. His birthplace was Goochland County, Va., not far from the capital city of Richmond.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 25, 2009 -The St. Louis Public School system is accustomed to getting much of the attention, good and bad, each year when a new school year begins. But that's changing as more innovative charter schools open their doors. The latest one is Confluence Preparatory Academy downtown.

This new charter high school has set up shop appropriately enough across the street from Central Library. The building the school occupies is the old TWA Reservation Center, 310 North 15th Street.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 20, 2009 - Readers of the St. Louis Beacon share their own personal experiences with race and education -- and show how they learned more than just their ABCs and times tables. Their stories help demonstrate that things can look different, depending on where you stand.

All the sources came from our Public Insight Network, a group of people in the St. Louis area and beyond who have agreed to help us cover the news by sharing their observations, knowledge and expertise with us. We hope each story will help us all understand each other a little better.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 20, 2009 - From thousands of miles away, Alice Layton is planning the next book shipment to Guyana. She is the picture of a 21st-century entrepreneur, working at coffee shops and from her home in St. Louis -- and communicating with colleagues in the South American country primarily through instant messaging and e-mail.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 19, 2009 - For the fifth year in a row, the composite ACT score for Missouri students remains flat, prompting state Education Commissioner Chris L. Nicastro to say the state must do better.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 17, 2009 - Samantha Buress began her sophomore year at Hazelwood Central High School last Thursday with a 4.0 average and a belief that she'll become a good lawyer one of these days. Besides plans to join the student council and the school choir, the 15-year-old intends to continue helping classmates struggling with English, math and science. That's her solution to the achievement gap, an issue about which she and many other students have strong opinions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 14, 2009 - When the voluntary school desegregation came to the Parkway School District in 1983, Sally Smith, a social studies teacher there, predicted that her colleagues would be clueless about how to tap into the incoming students' talent.

"We don't recognize it," she told researcher Amy Stuart Wells. "We're frightened by it. We did not invite the black children out here, and so there is an underlying hostility towards them that may not be recognized" by the teachers themselves.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 14, 2009 - Privacy advocates are trying to force Google to agree to tough privacy protections that would safeguard the list of books that people read from the future Google online library. They want the protections written into a pending court settlement.

Google has scanned millions of books into digital form since it began the books project in 2003. Authors and publishers sued for copyright infringement in 2005, and Google reached a tentative settlement of the case in 2007. Critics of the settlement have until Sept. 4 to file their comments with the court.

Commentary: Teachable moments happen too often

Aug 10, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 10 2009 - As an educator of law students, I am always looking for creative ways to teach important legal and philosophical principles. It is essential to ponder how the law developed and how historical values and doctrines evolved. Discussions of race and poverty are constant themes in our clinic where we focus on representing the poor with various legal challenges.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 8, 2009 - The little kindergartener struggled a bit with her welcome address, but hey, she was speaking in Spanish, and that explains the warm applause for her efforts.

The girl's remarks and similar ones in French by a first grader marked the official introduction to two unusual public charter schools in St. Louis. One is a French school and the other a Spanish school; both are part of St. Louis Language Immersion Schools . Located at 4011 Papin St., the two schools open their doors Monday, Aug. 17, to 180 kindergartners and first graders.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 7, 2009 - In "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere," author ZZ Packer tells of students visiting a civil rights exhibit so they could appreciate the progress the nation has made since the Jim Crow era. On the way from the exhibit, the students stopped by a restaurant where the black girls congregated at one table and the whites sat at another.

While there are plenty of exceptions, that kind of segregation is common in school cafeterias across the St. Louis area. Seemingly by instinct, some youngsters carve out spaces or choose tables where they chat, laugh and eat with people who look like themselves.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 3, 2009 - Aside from being where kids learn to read and write, schools are, and have been, a melting pot for assimilating children into mainstream America. As schools become more diverse, they've also had to place more emphasis on their social responsibilities: encouraging fair play and respect for all students, whether they come from around the corner or around the world.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 31, 2009 - The tough financial situation has taught local schools an interesting lesson in economics, but it's not necessarily the one they expected.

With household budgets getting tighter, tuition for private or parochial schools might be one of the first places that families look to cut. Yet with the first day of classes only a few weeks away, schools in the area say big changes in enrollment -- drops for private schools, increases for public ones -- are not materializing.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 31, 2009 - From the very beginning of public schools in St. Louis, race and education have mixed about as well as oil and water. The promise of public education as the great equalizer, the character-building process through which even the most impoverished and ignorant residents would be taught the social and academic skills needed for a good start in life, applied to whites but eluded most blacks.

Commentary: Bad karma in Cambridge

Jul 30, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 30, 2009 - I had dearly hoped to sit this one out. As soon as I heard that a black college professor had been arrested by a white cop under dubious circumstances, I knew that I didn't want to get involved.

As a retired cop who teaches part-time at a local university, I know a lot people in both camps and generally get along well with all of them. This seemed like an excellent opportunity to keep my mouth shut. Alas, for the very reasons that I didn't want comment on the case, friends understandably solicited my opinion on the matter.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 29, 2009 - Marcel Douglas has high expectations. Once he graduates from high school, he plans to study psychology and then attend medical school. He wants to study neuroscience, like Dr. Benjamin Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Carson is known for his surgeries to separate twins conjoined at the head.

Missouri gets mixed report card on child well-being

Jul 29, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 29, 2009 - Missouri ranks 33rd among U.S. states when it comes to child well-being, a new study says.

Since 2000, Missouri has improved on four child-welfare indicators: child death rate, teen death rate, teen birth rate and the percentage of teens who are high-school dropouts. However, it did worse on three indicators: the percentage of low-birthweight babies, infant mortality rate and child poverty rate.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 28, 2009 - City school officials are converting five elementary schools into what's known as pilot schools, giving educators and neighborhood residents more autonomy over school decisions that used to be made downtown.

Patterned after a similar program in Boston, the pilot schools will each be run by five-member advisory boards, consisting of the principal, a teacher, a parent and two community representatives. School Superintendent Kelvin Adams says the goal is to give residents more of a sense of ownership of schools in their neighborhoods.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 24, 2009 - When Vivian McBride ran for the Maplewood Richmond Heights Board of Education a decade ago, she found herself defending a decision made years earlier to pull her oldest daughter out of the district after seventh grade and send all four of her children to schools in Ladue, where her husband taught.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 17, 2009 - Two St. Louis area teachers are headed for the White House. Susan Carter of Glenridge Elementary in Clayton and Kamilla Riek of the Mehlville school district were named winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 16, 2009 - If Chris Nicastro has her way, the MAP test won't be the only yardstick for measuring student achievement in Missouri. She'll be in a position to help shape statewide school policies when she becomes Missouri's fifth commissioner of education on Aug. 1. She'll be the first woman to hold the job after running the Hazelwood district since 2002.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 13, 2009 - A new world of learning began to unfold today for about 90 bright-eyed children -- all students in the inaugural class of KIPP Inspire Academy, a middle school that opened its doors this morning on the South Side.

Although some of these youngsters already are accustomed to hard work, others will be getting their first taste of what it means to attend KIPP: being exposed to a challenging curriculum, plenty of homework, lots of encouragement and no excuses for not eventually performing at grade level and beyond.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 8, 2009 -As a result of his first three nominations to the University of Missouri's Board of Curators, Gov. Jay Nixon has broken a 38-year trend:

For the first time since 1971, there will be no African-Americans serving on the nine-person board. Each hails from one of the state's nine congressional districts, and all require confirmation by the state Senate. There also is a non-voting student representative.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 17, 2009 - While Tri-City Port District general manager Dennis Wilmsmeyer was describing the volume of goods -- 3 million tons -- transported annually through the 1,200-acre facility, the environmental and cost benefits of river transport weren't lost on the group of visitors gathered around his conference room table.

In fact, they wanted to know: Why aren't more goods transported by barge?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 15, 2009 - Students in charter schools in Missouri, Illinois and three other states have achieved higher academic gains than their counterparts in traditional public schools, according to a study released this morning by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes or CREDO.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 9, 2009 - While drawing complaints of "unfair competition" from the Fox Theatre, the prospect of a city-backed reopening of Kiel Opera House gets a shoulder shrug from the University of Missouri-St. Louis' Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.

As John B. Hylton, dean of UMSL's College of Fine Arts and Communication, says, "The Touhill is quite different from either the Fox or the Kiel."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 5, 2009 - The Rockwood and Hazelwood school districts have about the same number of students, similar budgets and a common experience -- having to cope with the loss of revenue from the permanent shutdown of automobile plants.

The jolt began in Hazelwood in 2002 when the Ford plant, then one of the region's key economic engines, began closing its doors, eventually depriving the school district of about $2.5 million in tax dollars and denying millions more to the city of Hazelwood. The school district has about 19,000 students and an operating budget of about $200 million.

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