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August 7, 2007 

Percy on Education 

Latest flier recalls in how good things were in 2003 when Slay's school board took over. He doesn't mention only 2.6% of high schoolers scored proficient in math or only 1.1% scored proficient in science.

His solution now is "Booing practice sessions."


Posted by: at 11:47 am | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (9)

July 19, 2007 

Adams Meets with City Residents 

Adams meeting in ONSL
By Laura Winter (photo by Will Winter)
While the emphasis in the newspaper is on inter-board politicking and who can sign district checks, the interests of people in the community are more focused on more basic education issues like parent-district communications, improved academics, and in-school safety. At least that was the tenor of the conversation last night at a meeting of families of pre-school age children and residents of Old North Saint Louis with Melanie Adams, the Mayor's appointee to the Special Administrative Board.
With about a dozen kids three and under running around, parents had lots of questions about interfacing with the district and getting into "good" schools. Adams listened as parents expressed frustration about applying to the magnet schools. One has yet to receive a letter either accepting or rejecting her child; another learned after the fact that one of her schools of choice will not operate an early childhood program next year. Adams acknowledged that customer service is an area that needs improvement but chalks much of the problem up to poor communication not poor quality of the schools themselves.
In regards to magnet schools, Adams reminded the predominantly white parents in attendance that a rising tide floats all boats. To wit, if more African-American students apply to and are accepted into magnet schools, then more white students can apply as well because the ratio must remain constant. In other words, if you want to get your kid into a magnet, help us recruit more African-American families to the magnets as well.
Adams also pointed out that if the SLPS can succeed academically and earn parent trust in magnet schools, it certainly can do it in neighborhood schools as well - the key is replicating that success.
When asked about the relationship with the elected board, Adams noted that the SAB simply wants the elected board to acknowledge that the appointed board is now in charge - once that happens she can foresee some sort of relationship established between the two groups. Adams emphasized several times that the SAB will not follow in the footsteps of previous boards who micromanaged the district by questioning every decision of the superintendent. Rather, the SAB is focused on its roles of hiring/firing/managing the superintendent and setting policy for the district to regain accreditation and achieve financial stability.
Adams said the SAB doesn't have a plan to put into action. She even noted that if the SAB had come to the table with a plan it would have been immediately rejected for lack of public input. Instead, she is meeting with groups like the one in ONSL to hear what people are thinking about the district.
According to Adams, she is doing a lot of listening these days, attending meetings in South Hampton, Benton Park West and other neighborhoods in recent days.
While the focus media-wise may be on board-level decisions and personalities, Adams is more concerned with academic achievement. As she says, it would be far more interesting to read in the paper about the successes of students in summer session than the interactions between the SAB and the elected board.

Posted by: at 1:03 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (5)

July 2, 2007 

Bonner gone entirely 

Post article.  The St. Louis Public Schools announced today that Bonner was one of 34 employees let go in an effort to balance the district's $332 million operating budget.

In a release, the district said the position of the director of community relations, has been eliminated. Bonner held that position in addition to his coaching duties. The district also said, "Any coaching vacancies will be filled by district teachers." Bonner did not work as a teacher for the district.

Posted by: at 3:59 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (4)

July 1, 2007 

Bonner's Role Downsized 

Anthony Bonner, former Vashon and SLU star (and longtime New York Knick), will no longer be working out of the SLPS central office as Executive Director of Community Outreach. Apparently, the new SAB has eliminated several positions in the communications and community outreach area. Bonner, however, plans to continue in his role as the Vashon basketball coach.    




Posted by: at 10:54 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (7)

June 18, 2007 

Education Bits 

Joe Frank ponders the new transitional board.

Meanwhile, NY Times says merit pay gaining ground.   And Denver's pay for performance system is attracting teachers. 


Posted by: at 7:28 am | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (0)

June 15, 2007 

Secularism and schools 

The discussion surrounding intellectual diversity on college campuses often circulates around notions of a secular environment foisting its secular humanist philosophy on the malleable youth.

Usually, as with Rep. Jane Cunningham's (R-Chesterfield) "Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act" (which stalled out in the legislature this year), the stated purpose is protecting students from libertine professors. Cunningham's bill would mandate that public higher-ed schools establish a grievance policy in addition to the institutions' existing process and to file reports to the state documenting the number of grievances made each year.

The questions that always spring to mind are; is this really a widespread problem and are college students driven towards secularism by their teachers? It's a regular assertion and one believed by some on both sides of the issue.
higher ed
A report in Inside Higher Ed turns those assumptions on their head finding that the greatest number of those who depart from their faith never attended college. And those that complete a bachelor's degree fall off in the lowest numbers.

"'Actually weíve just been wrong about this for quite a while,' said Mark D. Regnerus, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the authors of a new study that suggests students who attend and graduate from college are more likely than others to hold on to their faith."

Many of the accusations directed at universities as hostile environments for the religiously-minded often point to the declining religiosity of college-age youth as evidence. While the nature of education is likely to challenge some individuals' beliefs, there is little evidence of an active, wide-spread program of indoctrination.

As a student at a Catholic university I saw the school's religious tradition laced into every aspect of the school, yet that did little to temper youthful exuberance.

Emily Brooker, a social work student whom Cunningham's bill is named for, was subject to an unusual level of examination by Missouri State University following her refusal to sign a letter to the Missouri General Assembly endorsing gay adoption. Brooker sued to have her record cleared, and the school settled out of court with Brooker last year.

The Social Work department went too far in reprimanding her for violating the schools' Standards of Essential Functioning in Social Work Education and her refusal to participate in this particular activity should have been let go.

However, given that in social work you don't always get to chose your cases, it's likely they were legitimately challenging her ability to serve as an advocate for someone she may personally disagree with. That said, the Standards of Essential Functioning makes no mention of homosexuality.

One case, however, does not a conspiracy make.

Debates over philosophy should rage on campuses, its in the clash of ideas where good minds are forged. The intellectual diversity acts seem questionable on their face and given the evidence that those who attend higher-ed are more likely to remain affiliated with their religion, they seem unnecessary as well.

Correction: I mistakenly identified the University of Missouri as the school involved, Missouri State University was the school Brooker attended. It's corrected in the text of the story. 

Posted by: at 9:05 am | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (4)

Slay Endorses Court Decision on SLPS 

Mayor Francis Slay (naturally) endorses the court's decision today to reject the St. Louis School Board's argument that the state should not take control of the district Friday just a few short hours from now.

The Mayor argued before the State School Board earlier in the year that the current city School Board was failing its students and the city.

Chaotic would be a generous way to describe the Board's recent history. While the state has solid case that the district has not performed adequately, the district's rebuttal that the state is interfering with the electoral will of the voters is compelling. That said, the state has argued it has the legal right to do so, backed by today's ruling.

From the Mayor's Blog:
"A circuit court judge in Cole County has denied the request of some St. Louis School Board members to block Fridayís scheduled shift of authority over the SLPS to a three person transitional governance board. The judgeís clear decision means that Rick Sullivan, Melanie Adams, and Richard Gaines will face no legal obstacles when they begin work tomorrow.

Thatís a good thing. No City student is going to get better educated in a courtroom than she is in a classroom.

Every person testifying in Cole County this past week claimed to have the studentsí best interests at stake. Tomorrow, theyíll all have the chance to prove it. If the old School Board acknowledges the judgeís decision and steps back now, thereís enough time and talent in St. Louis to complete the summer session and ready the districtís staff, schools, cafeterias, gyms, and buses for the fall school term. If it does not, weíll be right back in court again."

Posted by: at 11:04 am | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (6)

June 14, 2007 

Reed Picks Gaines 

ST. LOUIS ó President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed today announced Richard K. Gaines as his selection to the three-member team charged with leading the Transitional School District of the City of St. Louis.

Press release here.


Posted by: at 2:34 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (11)

June 13, 2007 

Slay's Pick for the Transitional Board 

According to, Melanie Adams is the Mayor's appointment to the Transitional Board.

Adams, though relatively young, has a long resume which includes a stint as executive director of Teach for America in St. Louis.  I served with her on the steering committee of Metropolis St. Louis in the late 90s.  She's a city resident who has succeeded in every organization of which she's been a part. 


Posted by: at 10:36 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (13)

June 11, 2007 

Smith Not Invited to Announcement 

From well-placed observer:

> Hey Dave,
> I don't know if this is too insider baseball stuff, but I thought I
> would share with you some thoughts you can take or leave.
> Mike Gibbons uses words like bipartisan and cooperation, but that
> couldn't be further from the truth in the way the senate was run this
> year...and continues to operate.  The latest example is the
> appointment of Derio Gambaro.
> I see from reviewing the tape shot by PubDef that Gibbons was there,
> standing behind Derio and the Governor, all smiles.  No other senator
> was invited to the event, not even
Jeff Smith who worked (too hard, I
> say) in a bipartisan fashion with the Governor's office and
> leadership to get some education proposals passed.
> It is bizarre that the Governor appoints Smith's opponent to the
> board and don't even invite him to the announcement that is held in
> his district and that he is going to have to sponsor the make happen.
> They didn't invite Maida or Harry either.
> I don't know what Derio's deal is....but it seems to me that a deal
> has been made over his appointment since the Governor and Gibbons
> excluded Smith and Maida from the announcement (not even a courtesy
> call).
> Am I making any sense at all?


Posted by: at 7:07 am | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (5)

June 8, 2007 

Sports Talk Radio Host Weighs In On Gambaro 

According to the Governor's press release, the lead endorsement for Gambaro for State Board of Education comes from a sports talk radio host!

"I have known Derio Gambaro and his family for 15 years. He is an outstanding individual who uses his God given talents with the rest of the community at large. His ability to work with others makes him a perfect choice for the Board of Education. Hopefully he will help put the city school system back on track. Thank you governor for appointing Derio to the State Board of Education."

Mike Claiborne
KTRS Radio, Sports Announcer

Can't wait to see who Claiborne supports for Supreme Court!


Posted by: at 8:01 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (2)

Meanwhile Smith's Statement 

Senator Jeff Smith's Statement on the Appointment of Derio Gambaro to the State Board of Education:*

"Derio Gambaro was a worthy opponent in our race for the 4th District Senate seat and a dedicated public servant during his tenure in the state House.

"However, given the specificity with which I outlined my substantive concerns about the Governor's earlier nominee, I am disappointed that the administration chose to ignore rather than address the issues I raised. It is unfortunate as well that the administration refused my repeated offers for consultation on this appointment, particularly since I worked throughout
the session in a bipartisan fashion on education issues.

"Since it is important that the city be represented on the State board, I will look forward to learning more about Mr. Gambaro's educational philosophy and qualifications." 

Posted by: at 7:19 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (3)

Coleman on Gambaro 

Maida Coleman's statement on Gambaro is hereAs many people know, I have worked diligently to try to preserve the locally-elected school board in St. Louis.  In fact, I introduced legislation that would abolish the transition board authorized by the State Board of Education in the hopes of preserving the locally-elected board.   I anticipate discussing these important issues with Mr. Gambaro in the near future.

Mr. Gambaro has a reputable history as a devoted public servant for the people of the city.  Pending sponsorship and confirmation, I look forward to working with Mr. Gambaro on the issues facing St. Louis schools and our state's education system.

Posted by: at 1:16 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (3)

Gambaro for State BOE 

Antonio reports that Blunt will appoint Derio Gambaro to the State Board of Education.

Here are the people with whom Gambaro will serve:

Russell V. Thompson, Columbia, was appointed to the Board in November 1994; he was re-appointed in December 2002. He had previously served as president of the Board from 2000-2002. He is a professional educator who spent his entire career with the Columbia Public Schools. Dr. Thompson retired in 1994 after serving nearly 20 years as superintendent. He is active in numerous educational and civic organizations.

Rev. Stan Archie, Kansas City, was appointed to the State Board of Education in December 2006. He is senior pastor of the Christian Fellowship Baptist Church. He serves as president of the Kansas City Leadership Foundation, an organization devoted to community betterment and strengthening individual ethics and character. Rev. Archie earned a degree in divinity and organizational leadership at Calvary Bible College and a masterís degree in education at MidAmerica Nazarene University.

Deborah L. Demien,Wentzville, was appointed to the Board in March 2006. She is director of marketing for Demien Construction. She holds a bachelorís degree in English and history from Southwest Missouri State University and a masterís degree in education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Shirley Langley Hindman, Harviell, was appointed to the Board in April 2004. She is retired from Southeast Missouri State University, where she was a professor in the College of Education from 1976-1996. Dr. Hindman has a bachelorís and a masterís degree from Southeast Missouri State University and a doctorate degree from Southern Illinois University.

David Liechti, St. Joseph, was appointed to the Board in October 2003. He is a self-employed Certified Public Accountant. He is a former member and president of the St. Joseph Board of Education. Mr. Liechti earned a bachelorís degree and a masterís degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is active in numerous community organizations.

Sybl Slaughter, Lebanon, was appointed to the Board in October 2003. She retired in 2001 from the Lebanon School District where she was an elementary teacher for 20 years and principal for eight years. Ms. Slaughter holds a bachelorís degree and a masterís degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is a former member of the University of Missouri College of Education Alumni Board and is active in several civic organizations.

Notice anything?

They're actually qualified. They all have at least a master's degree and they have extensive educational experience.  In other words, they're well-educated and know a great deal about education.

Gambaro's resume: he served on his parish board, and on the board of a pro-voucher organization.  His legislative record on education? He sponsored 5 bills in 4 years. Take out the tax credits for donations and adding charter school employees to the SLPS retirement plan and there's not much more.   

I understand the Governor wants a pro-voucher member on the Board. But this hurts the voucher case.  Appointing a light-weight conservative doesn't advance the cause. It looks political. And you might get school choice, but you also might get creationism, abstinence-only and tax dollars for religious schools.

Surely Rex's mighty ShowMe Think Tank has someone with more heft than this.  Someone whose credentials are beyond question, whose intellect inspires fear and respect from forces of the status quo.

Antonio thinks this may be a political problem for Smith.  Hardly. Send him someone with a graduate degree, and real educational experience who knows the academic research forwards and backwards and supports vouchers.  Then he has a tough choice.  This is a simple "Governor, how about someone with a little meat and bones?" 


Posted by: at 1:58 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (12)

June 4, 2007 

Clarifying the TFA situation 

Today's Post article (via Combest):  By a 4-2 vote, with one abstention, the St. Louis School Board asked Superintendent Diana Bourisaw last week to determine whether the district could opt out of its recently renewed contract with Teach for America. Even the board members pushing for the organization's departure appreciate the benefits the program delivers.

Terminating the contract, they say, is strictly a matter of the district looking out for its own ó veteran teachers facing possible reassignment or job loss as declining enrollment and budget woes force the schools to restructure.

Posted by: at 7:34 am | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (1)

May 30, 2007 

SLPS Board: $$$ for Lizz Brown, none for Teach For America 

As noted over on Frank's Media Watch, Lizz Brown will receive $25,000 to "drive the message of the negative impact of charter schools."

Meanwhile, later in the same article, the board also voted to withdraw its contract with Teach for America.

Jones, who introduced the resolution, said the district should give priority to veteran teachers during coming staff reductions triggered by dwindling enrollment.

"I think we should make sure our teachers are served first," she said.


Posted by: at 2:08 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (24)

May 9, 2007 

Senate Passes Education Bill 

Winding through a gauntlet of debates and amendements, an education bill with its focus on St. Louis passed the senate tonight.  Some earlier features were dropped to win passage.  For example, giving the Mayor's Office the power to sponsor charter schools (throughout the state, at one point, due to sloppy legalese) did not make it.  Nor did the requirement that failing schools implement school uniforms.  But the bill will require teachers to prove proficency in thier subject matter by passing tests. 

Translation: Jeff Smith, who worked for the bill, will face the Local 420 in 2010.


Posted by: at 7:42 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (5)

May 8, 2007 

More Charters Coming to StL 

Charters are quickly becoming the primary battlefield between those dissatisfied with the status quo of public education and those defending it.

Three more Imagine School charters are scheduled to open next year.  Mayor's Office is focused on bringing more and more to St. Louis. They think educational alternatives are critical to attracting and retaining middle class families.


Posted by: at 8:49 am | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (10)

May 7, 2007 

Voucher Study Available 

The Show Me Institute's poll of tuition tax-credit legislation is now available on the website.

The poll examined public attitudes towards legislation similar to the "Milton Friedman 'Put Parents in Charge' Education Program" which would authorize a 65% tax credit for individuals who donate to qualifying scholarship programs, with a max of $40 million. The legislation, which was co-sponsored in the Missouri House by St. Louis legisator Rodney Hubbard (D-58), was introduced this session, but died in committee.

Show Me Institute founder Rex Sinquefield and pollster Verne Kennedy, president of Market Research Insight just wrapped up an interview on KWMU's "St. Louis On the Air."

At one point, Sinquefield noted that parents merely need to be given the options, and we will then watch the "miracle of competition" at work. 

Posted by: at 12:26 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (6)

May 4, 2007 

A penny saved is a penny earned 

Students at ten St. Louis Public Schools received presentations on budgeting, saving and how investments work from ten local bank employees.

formulaThe presentations were held on April 24th and 25th and mark National Teach Children to Save Day, the time of the year when children are instilled with the beauty that is compound interest. 

Posted by: at 7:16 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (0)

April 19, 2007 

MOHELA PQed and Passed 

Republican leadership took out the funds for University of Missouri and UM-KC because their senators (Graham and Justus) fought the bill.

Senate Minority leader Maida Coleman is quoted as saying, "The Senate is now dead."

Here is her floor speech after the PQ and here is her statement to the press: 

[[EARLY MORNING HOURS OF APRIL 19, 2007]Statement from Minority Leader
Maida Coleman regarding the use of the "nuclear option" or P-Q:]

Tonight, Senate Republicans chose to use the "nuclear option" to pass the Governor's plan for the Missouri Education Loan Authority, or MOHELA, in Senate Bill 389.

While using this "nuclear option" is allowed under senate rules, it is extremely disappointing.  We call this the "nuclear option" because it means the majority party wants to cut off debate on the Senate Floor.

In the history of the Missouri Senate, this extraordinary procedure has been used in only 10 instances counting this evening.  Since the Republicans took control of the Senate four years ago, they have chosen to implement it in five instances.

While Republicans talk about negotiation and bipartisanship, the fact remains that they have been overly willing to use this "nuclear option" to move their agenda since gaining control of the Senate.  The fact also remains that two Democratic alternatives for the Governor's proposal, SB 362 and SB 708, have never had a committee hearing while the Republicans have redrafted their proposal no fewer than 33 times this legislative session.  Furthermore, only four bills of the 89 on the senate calendar as we approached the legislative spring break were Democratic bills.  This is not bipartisanship.  This is not negotiation.  This is not a willingness to work with your colleagues across the aisle.

With respect to MOHELA, the Governor and Senate Republicans continue to ignore many facts including the only financial consultant to review this proposal has advised against it; Moody's rating agency cautioned against imposing tuition caps or tuition regulations that would result in adverse bond ratings; More than 70 percent of Missourians are against it in opinion polls; and the MOHELA board seeks extraordinary protections from criminal and civil liability.  These red flags have all been disregarded.

Since the latest version of the Governor's proposal was only made public this evening, it is unfortunate that the victims of this legislation will be Missouri's college-bound.

UPDATE: Governor's press release.


Posted by: at 8:49 am | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (0)

April 18, 2007 

Smith to speak at Parent Assembly 

On Thursday, April 19 at 6:30pm at Metro High School (4015 McPherson), Senator Jeff Smith will speak at the monthly meeting of the Parent Assembly of the St. Louis Public Schools. The public is invited to discuss education legislation that is working its way through the Missouri General Assembly. 

Unless the MOHELA debate, which continues at this hour, is still going on...                    


Posted by: at 9:35 pm | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (0)

April 6, 2007 

Strange Twist of Legislation 

Senator Coleman had forwarded a bill to repeal the transitional board from SLPS.  But is now sponsoring a bill that would bring transitional boards to failing districts across the state.  According to the Post article, the bill received unanimous bipartisan support from the Education Committee.  Other aspects of the bill are: looping, extension of the school day, upping the drop-out age to 17, and creation of a Teach for Missouri-type program. 

Posted by: at 10:37 am | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (16)

March 31, 2007 

Turk doing Robo-calls? 

Email tipster:
Robo-call this morning from "Susan Turk from Save Our Schools" urging
> votes for "parents" Wessling and Jackson.

Posted by: at 11:14 am | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (11)

Montee Subpoenas MOHELA 

from StLToday. 

Posted by: at 11:06 am | Category: Education  |  Link & Discuss (0)

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