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Education

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 10, 2009 - When a community group held a Save Our Schools rally Saturday in response to Superintendent Kelvin Adams' proposal to close 17 schools, only about 100 people showed up.

Whether the size of the crowd represented growing public indifference to the school-closing issue or the quiet before the storm may be known on Thursday when the Special Administrative Board votes on Adams' proposals.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 10, 2009 - Where have all the schoolchildren gone, long time passing? Where have all the schoolhouses gone, long time ago?

In the city of St. Louis, demographic changes and a continuing trek to the suburbs by middle class families have resulted in fewer children enrolled in public schools.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 6, 2009 - Federal stimulus dollars for education are supposed to be used in part to plug holes in state funding for basic K-12 and higher education programs. Unclear is whether Missouri can simply cut spending for education programs it already had committed to fund, then use stimulus dollars to cover the shortfall.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 2, 2009 - Six months after Missouri legislators opened an alternative route to full professional teacher certification, a controversial program is set to release potentially hundreds of candidates into the job market. Many school districts say they are open to hiring the prospective teachers, particularly for hard-to-staff math and science positions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 2, 2009 - In tough economic times, when tax revenues steeply decline, the teaching profession isn't spared from hiring freezes and layoffs. But its relative stability still attracts some people to classroom jobs and to academic programs that prepare them to teach.

Gayle Wilkinson is co-director of a teacher certification program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis that's designed for career changers. She said she's seen a marked spike in interest in the program over the last few months - likely because of the economy. To meet demand, UMSL recently hired a full-time adviser for people who are planning to switch careers.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 2, 2009 - A bipartisan group of area state lawmakers gathered Monday morning at the site of a shuttered city school in north St. Louis to make their case for the city school board to allow groups to open schools in excess buildings.

As the district moves into a second wave of closing and selling unneeded property, it has included a provision to prohibit the transfer any of its buildings to groups wanting to use them for charter, public or private schools.

Commentary: Toward an end to Black History Month

Feb 28, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 28, 2009 - I was invited to speak at an event celebrating the culmination of Black History Month, and two things struck me.

The first was that I almost forgot it was Black History Month! I'm just being honest. Addressing issues of race and honoring the stories of people from all backgrounds are things I aim to do regularly, so I didn't fully connect that the recent events I had been attending were for Black History Month.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 26, 2009 - St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams got a warm public reception Thursday night to his recommendation that the district close 17 schools to help balance the budget.

The reaction was in sharp contrast to widespread public displeasure over recommendations in a recent report by MGT America Inc., the consulting firm that the Special Administrative Board hired to help it decide which schools to shut down. The SAB later asked Adams and his staff to review MGT's report and come up with their own recommendations.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 17, 2009 - Sister Dorothy Clark, who spent 20 years teaching and ministering in Africa, was among the many religious people the late Ugandan dictator Idi Amin expelled from Uganda. Her banishment came as a relief to her family.

"We were very happy she was kicked out," said her sister, Georgia Clark Zimmerman. "We wanted her home where we thought she'd be safer."

Commentary: Reuse and reconfigure St. Louis public schools

Feb 12, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 12, 2009 - The members of the American Institute of Architects St. Louis Chapter, of whom approximately 40 percent reside or work in the City of St. Louis, commend the St. Louis Public Schools for undertaking the Comprehensive Facilities Review. We are pleased that a local architectural firm, David Mason & Associates participated in the study.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 10, 2009 - Susan Reid, the jovial principal at Compton Drew Middle School just west of the St. Louis Science Center, can't say enough good about the instructors from Teach for America.

"They bring a great deal of energy to the classroom, lots of good ideas, and they invigorate other teachers," says Reid (right). She adds that Teach for America teachers "fall right in step" as volunteers for after-school programs, too, such as the Science Center class that meets one Saturday morning each month to serve Compton Drew students.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 6, 2009 - "You tell me you love me but then you are choking me." This is how one St. Louis resident described what the Special Administrative Board of the St. Louis Public School District is doing by placing a 100-year deed restriction on the school buildings it has closed.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 6, 2009 - Tying bonuses to job performance has long been a practice in the corporate world. But as the news out of Wall Street shows, the dangled-carrot approach can sometimes backfire. One potential reason is highlighted in a recent study co-authored by Judi McLean Parks, professor of organizational behavior at Washington University's Olin School of Business.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 5, 2009 - Hundreds of parents, teachers, students, and community residents made repeated appeals to the Special Administrative Board on Wednesday night to reject a consultant’s recommendations that 29 schools be shuttered, a move that would help the system address a budget deficit.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 4, 2009 - Rev. Ken Jones remembers when the end of the school term at Riverview High School was known mostly for student violence rather than as a time of celebration. But last year, he says, peace prevailed.

"I've seen a cultural change, a complete transformation, no fights, more peace. It's remarkable."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 4, 2009 - The public will have its say tonight on a consultant's controversial recommendations that at least 28 city schools be closed. The recommendations come from MGT of America Inc., the firm hired by the Special Administrative Board, which is trying to cut school system expenses and close a $36 million budget hole.

The last time a city School Board put large numbers of buildings on the chopping block, the outcry was loud, bitter and persistent. This time, however, the response has been more muted, with the debate more quietly focused so far on two broad issues:

Commentary: Who will help teach the teachers?

Feb 1, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 1, 2009 - It seemed so right. Leslie Lewin, who since sixth grade had a passion to teach, was confident she could instruct and inspire her middle school charges. After all, she would be working in the very building that hosted her affirming experience as a student teacher. But a year later, Leslie was doing math in a bank, not a classroom.

From day one, she groped for a comfort level. She felt overwhelmed, even panicky, as she struggled with discipline problems and other issues.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 30, 2009 - The Farmington, Mo., school district was justified in suspending a student for wearing a Confederate cap because the student's action followed a series of racial incidents that raised the possibility of a school disruption, a federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled Friday.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 28, 2009 - Rich Gaasch graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia, with a degree in business administration.

He looked around for jobs. He networked. He found nothing.

And then he headed to graduate school.

This article first appeared in te St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 26, 2009 - The Kirkwood and Riverview Gardens school districts couldn't offer more contrast among area school systems. Kirkwood, in southwest St. Louis County, is a predominantly white, generally high-achieving district, with 16 percent of its 4,900 students qualifying for free or reduced lunches. Overwhelmingly black Riverview Gardens, in north county, has nearly twice as many students as Kirkwood. Nearly 79 percent of them are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced lunches, which usually correlates with academic underachievement.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 21, 2009 - When Toi Evans heard the new Missouri governor, Jay Nixon, was on campus at Harris-Stowe State University Wednesday morning, she had no idea he was bringing news of relief from tuition increases that have been the bane of students like Evans and a constant headache for university officials.

During a sweep across the state, Nixon visited three college campuses to announce that students at public colleges and universities would be spared from tuition hikes in the 2010 fiscal year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 20, 2009 - Sprawled in a loose ring, 10 young black women sit in the back corner of the conference room, their list of questions almost complete.

One for the Jewish girls: What exactly is a Jewish princess?

Another for the white Christian women: Were you aware of all the discrimination others go through?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 19, 2009 - A memorial service for Professor Barbara Ann Kachur, interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Science and former chair of the Department of English at the University of Missouri St. Louis, will be held Sunday, Jan. 25 at UMSL. Dr. Kachur died on Dec. 28, 2008, after a brief illness, at her home in Bel-Nor, just blocks from the university and the work she loved. She was 58.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 22, 2008 - Since early in the decade, the Missouri Optometric Association has pushed hard for legislation that requires comprehensive eye examinations for children. A bill mandating such exams for students in kindergarten or first grade finally became law in the summer of 2007 and went into effect this fall.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 22, 2008 - Raishelle Scott did her share of work in the trenches of child abuse and neglect agencies before landing her dream job in the Hazelwood school district more than a decade ago.

"I thought I was in heaven," she says, remembering the low-stress atmosphere she came to associate with being a school social worker in Hazelwood. Even so, her duties have grown more complex because she now has to address social problems that were once rare among students in suburbia. Homelessness, for example.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 20, 2008 - For all the concern about low reading comprehension and short attention span, sometimes the reason for poor school performance is just the eyes. Students whose vision problems go undetected or are not found until their first screening or eye exam late in elementary school are likely to have fallen so far behind in reading that remediation is difficult.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 19, 2008 - "Lou Lewis, class of '53, passed away this morning." That was the first comment on the message board of the McKinley High School website, mckinleygoldbugs.com, on Mon. morning, Dec. 8. Mary, a member of the McKinley High School class of 1964, posted the message.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 19, 2008 - Harris-Stowe warns that it would have to shut down. Missouri State University in Springfield says it would lose the equivalent of funding for an entire college at the university, and Truman State says it would have to eliminate 208 faculty and staff jobs. And the largest public university in the state, the University of Missouri system, which includes UMSL, says it would have to get by with 1,400 employees fewer or raise tuition by as much as 27 percent. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec.12, 2008 - On the job for barely two weeks, David Van Vliet faces the task of restoring KV Pharmaceutical's reputation on Wall Street and in Washington.

Named interim CEO on Dec. 5, Van Vliet is trying to mollify analysts, who have complained for years about insufficient corporate communication. And he's trying to satisfy regulators, who have periodically -- and emphatically -- chastised the practices of the Brentwood-based maker of generic drugs and brand-name medications.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 30, 2008 - A high school senior changes the first name on his Facebook account to a nickname to hide from college admissions officers. How to be certain of his motive? He says so in his online status message. Another student shortens her last name to an initial, and a third deletes his profile entirely.

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