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Education

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 8, 2010 -  If all politics is local, as Tip O'Neill famously said, then local propositions like tax hikes and bond issues are the place where the aphorism is put to its toughest test.

On Tuesday, such issues passed overwhelmingly, with not only Proposition A for mass transit winning by a big margin but school tax issues and bond proposals coming up winners as well. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 5, 2010 - Varsity Tutors, a company founded by a graduate of Clayton High School and Washington University, prides itself on making house calls.

Most of the one-on-one tutoring takes place in students’ living rooms, not in school libraries or coffee shops. After school and on weekends, certified teachers work with K-8 students on math, science, reading and writing; college students who have scored highly on standardized tests work with high school students on test prep and a range of academic subjects.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 24, 2010 - Missouri doesn't have to hide the reading report card it got on Wednesday.

When results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress -- the NAEP, often called the nation's report card -- were released, Missouri was one of only nine states that showed significant gains in reading among eighth graders.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 19, 2010 - At first, the big fight shaping up over scholarships at Missouri colleges and universities appeared to be whether students at private schools would continue to be eligible for more money than those at public ones.

Now, if Gov. Jay Nixon has his way, students at private schools won't get any money at all.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 17, 2010 - In Kansas City, the School Board voted to close 26 out of 61 schools. In north St. Louis County, the Wellston School District is going away altogether, to be absorbed by the neighboring Normandy district at the end of this school year.

Commentary: How early should early childhood education start?

Mar 8, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 08, 2010 - When I graduated from college, I worked as a kindergarten teacher in Jakarta for a few years. I learned more than I had expected from that experience and became an advocate of the “golden years” concept of how deeply human development is shaped by the first five years of life. As acceptance of the notion of early childhood education grows, I have noticed that policies and programs have focused more heavily on the pre-kindergarten experience. Is it true that policies and programs are most effective if they focus on the preschool period rather than even earlier in life?

Does school choice lead to resegregation?

Feb 24, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 24, 2010 - A new report on the racial makeup of enrollment in the nation's charter schools says two goals seem to be colliding: deregulation and desegregation.

The research conducted by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA says that as more students attend classes in charter schools, which are funded by tax dollars but separate from traditional school districts, the ideal of integration too often has been ignored.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Patrick Jackson stood alone on the stage of the packed Keating Theater at Kirkwood High School last Dec. 22, with just his double bass in his arms, playing an idiosyncratic and difficult solo called "Failing."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 19, 2010 - Patrick Jackson stood alone on the stage of the packed Keating Theater at Kirkwood High School last Dec. 22, with just his double bass in his arms, playing an idiosyncratic and difficult solo called "Failing."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 18, 2010 - Steven Gibson had no idea what to expect. In the past, events put on by the Cultural Diversity Club have drawn as many as three people. Gibson, a junior at Francis Howell Central High School, is the unofficial leader of the club, and on the evening of Feb. 17, he got a nice surprise.

At Kirkwood High, racial progress is marked by both success and frustration

Feb 17, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 17, 2010 - The relationship between Kirkwood and its predominantly African-American neighborhood of Meacham Park plays out daily in the public schools, where decades of attention to race-related issues have yielded both success and frustration.

At Kirkwood High School, African-American students have made major improvements in their graduation rate and other measures of achievement. But the number of African-American teachers has shrunk to two on a faculty of 118. Some current and former African-American faculty complain about being treated disrespectfully.

Lessons from Teach For America

Feb 10, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 10, 2010 - In its two decades, Teach For America, the program that recruits recent college graduates to teach in hard-to-staff public schools, has grown substantially. Last year, a record 35,000 people applied for roughly 4,100 teaching spots across the country. This year, more than 50,000 people could apply for 4,500 positions, according to Scott Baier, executive director of Teach for America St. Louis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 3, 2010 - Many educators would be happy to see provisions of No Child Left Behind left behind, but they’re a little wary of what might be taking its place. 

The program enacted in 2002 as part of the Bush administration’s education policy has become a fixture in the policy of many schools. They strive to make sure their students make adequate yearly progress as measured by standardized tests and move toward the mandate of having all American children becoming proficient by 2014. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 1, 2010 - In state after state, says author Richard Whitmire, one gender is slipping behind the other in math scores on standardized tests, and it is falling far behind in reading.

From 1990 to 2005, the high-school grade gap between the sexes widened, from both genders averaging grades of C to one having a B and the other having a C-plus.

Commentary: Illinois takes one step for school reform

Jan 31, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 31, 2010 - Illinois' deadline dash to enact education reforms that could entice $500 million in "Race to the Top" federal funding was truly remarkable in this era of dysfunctional state government, but it took a toll on transparency.

The measure resolutely makes student growth a significant factor in evaluating the performance of teachers and administrators; yet, it bars disclosure of how specific educators fare with the elevated level of accountability. So, while many cheer the new law as moving Illinois "light years ahead," others chastise the darkness.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 28, 2010 - With health care stuck in neutral, political gridlock in the Senate, millions still out of work and two wars grinding on, President Barack Obama's spotlight on schools in the State of the Union address was a welcome bright spot for local educators.

"It was very encouraging to have community colleges referred to so positively in the State of the Union speech," said John M. McGuire, president of St. Charles Community College.

Commentary: Five tips for raising racially aware children

Jan 18, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 18, 2010 - A recent article in the Race, Frankly series covered the hard work of parents in the Community Connection program in the Webster Groves school district. It got me thinking about explicit actions that we can take as parents to raise racially aware children.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 18, 2010 - Missouri earned a below-average grade in Education Week's latest Quality Counts survey. The average score for all states was 75.9 or a C. Missouri ranked 40th among the states with a C- and a score of 72.4; Illinois ranked 41st with a C- score of 71.8. Maryland ranked highest with a B+ overall score, followed by Massachusetts and New York.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 4, 2010 - The Regional Business Council mentoring program is designed to give students behind-the-scenes insight into how companies work as well as a valuable contact they can use to help further their careers.

Based on the reaction of three students who have been in the program this past semester, the program is working just as intended.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 21, 2009 - Anecdotal reports throughout the fall had community college enrollments rising fast, in large part because of the schools’ comparatively low costs and focus on workforce training. Turns out those early indications were correct.

A survey from the American Association of Community Colleges shows that the number of students nationwide who enrolled in credit courses at two-year colleges this fall increased by 11.4 percent from fall 2008 and 16.9 percent from fall 2007. Full-time enrollment rose 24.1 percent from fall 2007 to fall 2009.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 20, 2009 - Six St. Louisans with elected positions but no authority gathered last week in a school dance studio, just as they do every month.

The room at Carr Lane Visual and Performing Arts Middle School is lined with barres for aspiring performers; for inspiration, silhouettes of dancers are painted on the walls in varying stages of graceful movement.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 17, 2009 - JEFFERSON CITY: The Missouri state School Board voted unanimously Thursday to dissolve the Wellston School District as of the end of June 2010 and have its students and assets taken over by the neighboring Normandy School District.

The move would be the first change in the makeup of public school districts in St. Louis County since 1975, when the Kinloch and Berkeley districts became part of Ferguson-Florissant.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 9, 2009 -The panel charged with helping to determine the future of the St. Louis schools began its work Wednesday with no shortage of advice from members of the elected city school board whose power it helped to take away.

Dr. William H. Danforth called the first meeting of the five-member committee that was reconvened last month by Chris Nicastro, Missouri's commissioner of elementary and secondary education. The same group issued the report that led the state in 2007 to take accreditation away from the city schools and put the system under the control of a three-member appointed administrative board.

The Lens: 'An Education' that's first rate

Dec 7, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 7, 2009 - Any education is a form of seduction, from falling in love with an academic subject to falling in love with the movies. This is the subject of my highlight of the St. Louis International Film Festival, "An Education," now showing at the Hi-Pointe. Though Danish director Lone Sherfig has made earlier films, this is the first to receive wide distribution.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 23, 2009 - As Missouri educators met Monday to ponder how to win the state's share of $4.35 billion in money from Washington, they were reminded that while they are vying with other states for the money, their true competition extends far beyond the U.S. border.

The federal Race to the Top program is encouraging states to submit applications for the funds, which are designed to encourage and reward educational innovation that is most likely to lead to improved results for students, long-term gains in schools and increased productivity and effectiveness.

This article fist appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 20, 2009 - How's this for a good return on your money in this era of low, low interest rates? Invest $1, save $7 later on.

That's the deal that a Missouri House task force looking into ways to prevent school dropouts heard about during a hearing Friday at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. For every dollar spent on early childhood education, governments can save the seven dollars needed to build prisons.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov 18, 2009 - The St. Louis Public Schools district has shaved another $2 million off its deficit by closing buildings for seven days during winter break and furloughing employees for two days, but it still has another $11 million to go and Superintendent Kelvin Adams says there are no places to find very large chunks of it.

"We will look under every rock," Adams told reporters after the district's Special Administrative Board meeting at school headquarters Thursday night. "There are no big rocks."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 12, 2009 - The five-member committee whose earlier report led to the St. Louis Public Schools being unaccredited and run by a special administrative board is being reconvened to recommend the future course of the district.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 5, 2009 - Remember when Ma Bell lost her monopoly and suddenly everyone was faced with a wide -- and often bewildering -- array of choices about what telephone service would be best?

Educators and lawmakers around Missouri hope that one day soon, parents could face the same competitive choice about where to send their children to school.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 28, 2009 - It’s been a busy month of news on the college-cost front. As a quick review:

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