Ryan Delaney | KBIA

Ryan Delaney

Originally from Burlington, Vermont, Ryan has worked for Northeast Public Radio in Albany, The Allegheny Front in Pittsburgh, and WAER in Syracuse, where his work was honored by the Syracuse Press Club. His reporting has also aired on New Hampshire Public Radio and Vermont Public Radio.

Ryan has a degree in broadcast journalism and international relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

There are pros and cons: Much less pay. But summers off from work.

As schools across the country struggle to fill science teacher positions, some educators say it’s time to persuade trained scientists and health care professionals to switch careers and come back to school, this time as teachers.

Missouri has an updated rubric for measuring whether school districts are educating kids the way they should be.

The State Board of Education approved the changes at its monthly meeting Tuesday.

“It is an exciting day,” said Assistant Education Commissioner Chris Neale as he sat down in front of the board in Jefferson City.

Running a new school is not all that different from any other startup business. There are surprises, pivots and changes.

Kairos Academies, an independent public charter school, is navigating its first year with two young, ambitious co-founders and an education philosophy unlike any other in St. Louis public school offerings.

Students grumble about having to take another test. Turns out, teachers do, too.

About a third of St. Louis Public Schools’ elementary-level buildings are assessing their students less often this school year, at the suggestion of teachers, with the hope of leaving more time for instruction.

The University of Missouri-Columbia is playing defense over its small expansion of an app that records students’ class attendance using their phones’ location.

Over the past week, national media attention has created a fervor of concerns about privacy and a move toward creating a “Big Brother” state on campus. But university officials and the app’s creator say the software does not constantly monitor a user's location or collect other data, but only knows if a student is in the assigned room or not.

Not even Gary Bettman knew the name of the first black hockey player in the National Hockey League when he became league commissioner in 1993.

Bettman has since hired Willie O'Ree, who broke the NHL's color barrier when he skated for the Boston Bruins in 1958, as a league ambassador, part of what the league is doing to make its game more diverse.

James Gibbs remembers when the 522-student-capacity Dunbar Elementary School in St. Louis’ JeffVanderLou neighborhood could barely contain all his classmates. 

“It was maxed; it was capacity,” said Gibbs, who’s now 62 years old. “If it didn’t overflow, it was 500.”

That was in the early 1970s when St. Louis Public Schools educated 111,000 students. Last fall, 155 registered at Dunbar, filling just 30% of the available classroom space. The district’s entire enrollment has fallen to 21,500, including 2,000 pre-schoolers. 

Despite an entire semester of AP Gov at Clayton High School, Cassy Bennett still doesn’t know exactly how the Iowa caucuses work. 

“So I’d like to learn what that is,” the 17-year-old senior said, adding  through her laugh she doesn’t blame her teacher.

Bennett and 20 of her classmates hope to have a better idea of the quirky electoral practice after they spend the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in Iowa volunteering for political campaigns and observing rallies. 

The crackle of gunshots has become white noise for children living in parts of north St. Louis.

“I got used to it,” a fifth grade girl said, “because it happen a lot, so I’m just not scared of it no more.”

They know just what to do if they’re inside: 

“When I hear gunshots, I duck on the floor and get under my bed,” said a sixth grade boy.

What is there to say about the number 7? It’s odd, it’s prime. It can be reached by adding 3 + 4, 5 + 2 and 6 + 1.

That may be how a teacher has a “math conversation” with young students under a new approach to math education piloted by Washington University’s Institute for School Partnership, called Math314. 

The Biome School, a small, independent public charter school in St. Louis, has to rely on donations for a quarter of its funding to educate 178 students. 

“We're certainly not crying foul from the standpoint that we knew the business model was broken when we launched the charter school,” said Bill Kent, school president and CEO.

School at McKinley Classical Leadership Academy Middle School begins at 7:10 a.m.

If Lisa Manzo-Preston’s seventh grade daughter took the bus to the St. Louis public school, she’d have to be outside at 6:03 a.m. on the dot.

“That's impossible for us. That’s absolutely not something we're able to do because of her level of exhaustion and her inability to wake up in the morning,” she said. 

Updated Jan. 9 with information about teacher recruitment efforts

Missouri education officials have a handful of ideas on how to get more people interested in becoming public school teachers and then staying in the classroom for the long term.

It goes along with a nearly $400 million pitch to increase teacher pay detailed last month.

The six-point recruitment and retention plan reviewed and compiled by a teachers working group was presented to the State Board of Education during its monthly meeting Thursday.

The two-story house Laine Schenkelberg purchased on Maplewood’s Marietta Avenue in 2009 was supposed to be a starter home. A decade later, she shares the house with her husband, Eric, and their four children ages 7 months to 9 years, along with a cat.

When it was time for their oldest, Xavier, to begin school, the couple toured private options, but nothing felt quite right. Then a friend persuaded them to check out the Early Childhood Center, run by the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District.

Only nine of Missouri’s 518 public school districts lack full accreditation from the State Board of Education. But some of those districts have been there year after year, struggling to boost their annual performance metrics high enough to prompt state school board members to bump them up to full accreditation. 

The state board accepted the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s recommendation to leave all school districts where they are at its monthly meeting Tuesday in Jefferson City. That keeps 509 districts at full accreditation and nine provisionally accredited. No school district is currently unaccredited.

Future Maryville University graduates will still have the embossed piece of paper with the fancy font to hang on the office wall. They’ll also be able to flash their diplomas on their smartphones.

The suburban St. Louis institution announced this month it’s investing in blockchain technology to help its graduates be more nimble with their education credentials as they pursue advanced degrees or employment.

In Ritenour School District, no single ethnicity makes up more than half of its students. But it has been facing a challenge that many districts across Missouri and the country share: Its gifted classrooms are whiter than the rest of the student population.

Jennings school students who are homeless and need a ride to school are arriving the way many suburban kids do: by minivan.

The small north St. Louis Country district of about 2,500 students began using minivans this fall to transport about two dozen homeless students to school. In the past, Jennings ordered up a fleet of taxi cabs. By switching to vans it owns, the district cut its transportation budget in half, improved attendance and reduced the stigma of showing up to school in a cab, administrators said.

It’s not unusual to see several school buses crisscrossing St. Louis neighborhoods early in the morning, each carrying just a few kids.

There’s a chance that soon, students who live in the same neighborhoods but attend different schools, whether KIPP or Confluence charter schools or St. Louis Public Schools, could all pile onto the same bus.

The founder and leader of St. Louis College Prep submitted phony attendance sheets to the state education department for several years in order to funnel more than $1.4 million to his charter school fraudulently, a state audit released Tuesday found.

St. Louis College Prep, an independent public charter school, shuttered in May after graduating its first senior class. Its founder, Mike Malone, resigned last November after the school’s sponsor and board confronted him regarding the financial irregularities. 

Dozens of rural Missouri school districts are crying “timber” after Congress allowed legislation that sends half of federal timber profits to schools lapse again.

That includes the Alton School District in Oregon County, not far from the Arkansas border, where Superintendent Eric Allen said the district will have to consider staff cuts if the funding isn’t renewed over the winter.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA

An educator advisory panel is recommending mandating gifted and talented instruction at every school district.

That requirement was eliminated in 2006. 

Steve Coxon is chair of the gifted education advisory council. He told the state school board Tuesday that removing the mandate led to a disastrous loss of gifted programs in rural schools.

“One after the other, over 100 programs in the state,” Coxon said. “And that’s a disaster for the talent development and long-term economic viability by draining that talent potential, particularly from our rural areas.”

The Missouri State Board of Education took steps Tuesday toward putting more counselors and support staff in the state’s public schools.

Counselors in Missouri currently serve an average of 347 students, according to the American School Counselor Association. That’s under the state requirement of a ratio of one counselor per 400 students but significantly higher than its recommendation of a counselor serving 250 students each.

How the Missouri education department measures student comprehension and school performance is complicated. The manual for determining a school’s performance is dozens of pages long. 

Making it even more complex, students have taken four different sets of tests in six years. Just when the test saw stability, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education overhauled the way it presents school performance (in short, it got more colorful and less numerical).

We had the headlines for what to make of this year’s Annual Performance Reports and Missouri Assessment Program tests. But now that there’s been time to digest the data, here are takeaways:

Missouri’s school report cards are out, and they don’t look anything like they did last year.

The redesigned Annual Performance Report (APR) does away with the percentile score that the state uses to make accreditation decisions and replaces it with color-coded bar graphs meant to give parents a more detailed look at how their school district or charter school is doing. 

But educators aren’t sure how accessible all that information really is.

Missouri schools are getting a different kind of report card from the state. It's now color coded instead of offering a numerical grade.

The Annual Performance Report is the state’s way of showing how school districts are doing. After years of providing a percentile score that conveyed how school districts ranked, this year’s APR instead uses color-coded bar graphs that measure not only how students did on state tests, but how much they improved.

School districts in St. Louis are trying new ways to get a qualified adult in classrooms when the teacher is out.

Districts have employed technology, pay bumps and advertising as they compete for a small pool of people willing to supervise students in a pinch.

Regional students from low-income and middle-class backgrounds will be able to attend Washington University completely free under a major expansion of financial assistance by the prestigious university.

When it starts next year, the Wash U Pledge will be available to students from Missouri and the southern half of Illinois with household incomes below $75,000, which is roughly triple the federal poverty line for a family of four. The full cost of a Wash U education is about $72,000 a year with tuition, room and board and fees.

Eddie Hill IV never showed up for the fifth grade. The 10-year-old was shot and killed enjoying his summer vacation from his front porch in the Lewis Place neighborhood, which borders the Central West End. 

His death has upended the school year for his former classmates at Pamoja Preparatory Academy at Cole. 

Eddie is one of a dozen children who have died in violence so far this year, part of a dizzying streak of young children being killed by bullets not meant for them, while doing things a kid is supposed to be doing in the summer: playing in the yard, eating pizza and going to football games.

The St. Louis Board of Education took the brunt of the frustration about gun violence that has taken the lives of a dozen children in the city from residents, parents and school staff Thursday night.

The school board held a special meeting at its Vashon High School to listen to ideas for how to keep its students alive.

Board members and district leadership say they are equally vexed by the deadly past several months, during which six St. Louis Public Schools students have been shot and killed — four over their summer vacation and two in the early weeks of the school year. At least two more have been wounded by gunfire.

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