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Education

Seth Bodine / KBIA

Columbia Board of Education candidate Jay Atkins said if he could imagine a perfect school district, it would be one that had 100 percent literacy at the third-grade level.

For Atkins, who has three children in the Columbia Public Schools and a fourth that will soon enter, literacy is on the top of his campaign agenda. He said he decided to run because he wanted to be more involved and make sure schools are under proper stewardship.


Sidney Steele / KBIA

Blake Willoughby is the youngest candidate for the Columbia Board of Education, by a sizeable margin. While some might see this as negative, Willoughby sees this as one of his greatest advantages.

“I bring a fresh perspective of being a young, community engaged, artist-educator,” Willoughby said. “I am the closest in age to understanding what our kids are navigating when they graduate high school and become life-ready.”


Kassidy Arena / KBIA

Ardella Streaty-Wilhoit, or more commonly known as Della, is passionate about educating youth. She describes herself as a family woman first and candidate for the Columbia Public School’s Board of Education second.

“I got up one morning, and I just simply told my husband, you know, I think I will file for school board,” Streaty-Wilhoit said. Her shoulders shook as she laughed about the out-of-the-blue assertion.

Streaty-Wilhoit grew up in a household of 12. Her parents instilled in her and her siblings that education is wealth, and there are no shortcuts. Streaty-Wilhoit took this advice seriously. She earned her PhD in Food and Natural Resources at MU at 50 years old.


MU graduate student Marlee Baldridge did not major in science, she does not have any scientific background nor did she ever participate in lab work. Baldridge, though, spent her fall as an intern for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Even with a lack of professional science training, Baldridge’s main job as a NASA communicator was to take the science the scientists researched and translate it for the general public to understand.

“Goddard helped build the James Webb space telescope which is said to launch in the 2020s and it is the most powerful telescope we’ve ever built,” Baldridge said. “It can see so far, it can see light so old, it’s near the beginnings of the universe. So we describe it not just as a telescope to people, we describe it as a time machine because it’s going to let us understand how the universe actually formed.”


MU Students Concerned With Uncertain Fate Of Library

Feb 4, 2019

The dean of MU’s Engineering department held a private meeting Monday with students regarding the future of the school’s library.

Dean Elizabeth Loboa wanted students to feel free to speak candidly without worrying about the press, so she asked any student not related to the Engineering college to leave the room, including reporters.

After about an hour, students left the forum expressing frustration about the discussion. Six students spoke with KBIA, but five of them preferred to remain anonymous.

Q & A: Columbia Public Schools Making Way Through Redistricting Process

Feb 4, 2019

The Columbia School Board will have its next meeting on Feb. 11, and it plans on focusing heavily on the current redistricting process. KBIA’s Charlie Clarke spoke with Columbia Missourian reporter Hannah Hoffmeister, who has been covering redistricting in Columbia Public Schools since last fall.


Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

The NCAA is sanctioning the University of Missouri's football, softball and baseball teams after a tutor violated the organization's rules for academic conduct.

An NCAA report released Thursday says a tutor completed work — including homework assignments, quizzes and even an entire class — for a dozen University of Missouri student-athletes.

As a result, all three programs are getting three years of probation and a one-year postseason ban. This means the football team will not be eligible for a bowl game next school year.

Public Invited to Weigh in on Options for Changing School Attendance Zones

Jan 8, 2019

Three open houses will be held this week to discuss proposed changes to school attendance zones across Columbia.

Community members are invited to give feedback on the four possible attendance areas, which were presented Dec. 20 at a Columbia School Board meeting.

Paul Sableman / Flickr

  A Missouri school district that includes students from Ferguson must change its board member election method after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal. The Supreme Court let stand a July ruling from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A for-profit college that operates several Midwestern campuses has suddenly closed, citing mounting financial problems.

Vatterott Education Centers closed on Monday. In a letter to students, the suburban St. Louis-based college cited a U.S. Department of Education decision to limit Vatterott's participation in federal financial aid programs.

MU School of Law Library, Lloyd Gaines digital collection

No one knows what happened to Lloyd Lionel Gaines. He was last seen in Chicago on March 19, 1939.

Three months before he went missing, on Dec. 12, 1938, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor in a case against the University of Missouri School of Law. The court said the school violated the constitution when it rejected Gaines' application because he was black.

Wednesday marks the 80th anniversary of the ruling. 

Experts say his case could have done what Brown v.  Board of Education did in 1954, and it would have been done 15 years earlier.

The last time Joseph Johnson was a free man, the world was different.

It was 1994 – Bill Clinton was president, Michael Jordan was playing baseball, and The Lion King was the year’s highest-grossing movie.


Kathryn Palmer / KBIA

It’s been three years since the nation watched student activist group Concerned Student 1950 protest structural racism at the University of Missouri. Many of the issues spotlighted then, such as MU’s perceived reluctance to acknowledge the history and contributions of people of color, still persist today. This can be traumatizing and invalidating for the 17 percent of non-white students on campus, especially when the modes of racism are invisible to their white peers. But two MU psychology doctoral candidates, Yoanna McDowell and Jonathan Ferguson, are working to alleviate that stress. 


Betsy Smith / KBIA

Columbia’s classical music scene is growing and thriving, thanks to Missouri Symphony director Kirk Trevor. But Trevor’s work doesn’t stop with professional musicians.

On a Monday night at Broadway Christian Church in Columbia, Kirk Trevor conducts an orchestra of about 30 elementary and middle school students. He is joined by two symphony member coaches and a handful of parents, eager to listen to their children play. The students are practicing for their next performance in two weeks.


Meiying Wu / KBIA

Amid a national teacher shortage, a wave of teachers’ strikes last spring spotlighted some of the ongoing problems for the teaching profession, such as low pay and limited classroom resources. On top of that, a recent poll found that for the first time since 1969, just over half of American parents don’t want their children to pursue a teaching career.

The Missouri Constitution prohibits teachers from striking, but just because they aren’t speaking out, doesn’t mean schools here don’t face many of those issues. With some of the lowest teacher salaries in the country, recruiting and retaining qualified teachers is a challenge, said Paul Katnik, assistant commissioner for educator quality at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Two weeks ago, the Missouri state Legislature passed House Bill 3, which will create new policies to promote STEM education across the state.

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. According to the Pew Research Center, STEM careers are some of the fastest-growing jobs in the country. Since 1990, employment in STEM occupations has grown 79 percent.

But in Missouri, there’s a supply problem.

Columbia Public Schools and Rock Bridge High School dedicated the renovation of the school’s football stadium last Friday.

The $6.4 million project was paid for with funds from a 2014 voter-approved bond issue and renovated the press box, concession stand, restrooms, bleachers and track. 

KBIA's Mitch Legan was there, and he sent an audio postcard from the Bruins' game against the Lee's Summit West Titans. 


Mitch Legan / KBIA

If you’ve visited downtown Columbia recently, you’ve probably seen them.

They’re big and they’re grey, with a white stripe down the front. And they’re not very fast – when they’re really flying, they top out at about 15 mph.

They’re Bird scooters, and they’re popping up in college towns across the U.S.

Uninvited.

The electric rental scooters have been in town for the past three weeks after the company Bird Rides chose Columbia to be part of its “University Pop-Up Tour.”

Sara Shahriari/KBIA

The University of Missouri is considering changes to its sorority and fraternity system after reviewing recommendations put together by a task force.

Those recommendations -- meant to improve student safety and enhance the Greek life experience -- include allowing freshmen to live in sorority and fraternity housing based on a tiered system, limiting the frequency and length of social events and hiring a full-time staff member to focus on diversity and inclusion in the Greek community.

Missouri Legislators Tentatively Agree to Raise Tuition Caps

May 17, 2018
cindyt7070 / flickr

Lawmakers from the Missouri Senate and House hashed out an agreement Tuesday to raise caps on tuition increases.

Columbia School Board Votes to Officially rename Lee Elementary

May 15, 2018

The name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School has become one of the many symbols of the Confederacy taken down amid a national movement to reconsider the recognition given these controversial symbols.

University of Missouri System President Mun Choi and University of Missouri’s Chancellor Alexander Cartwright heard from students, faculty and staff about the challenges of attracting and retaining top-tier professors Monday.

Choi said he believes financial recognition is extremely important for keeping faculty in the system.

“I’ve asked all of the chancellors from the four campuses, as well as the CFO’s to build into their budget this year a 2 percent performance increase pool,” he said.

The administrators also heard from attendees about tuition caps.

Judge Hears Final Arguments in Historic MU Grad Worker Unionization Case

Apr 23, 2018

Are MU graduate workers employees with the right to unionize?

To the nearly 100 graduate students and Columbia residents rallying Friday afternoon outside the Boone County Courthouse, the answer was a resounding yes.

“We are employees,” coalition co-chair Simona Simkins said determinedly into a microphone. She called for guaranteed access to health care, child care and livable wages for MU’s graduate workers.

Columns at University of Missouri
Adam Procter / Flickr

The University of Missouri System has a state economic impact of about $5.4 billion a year, according to a recent study.

The economic impact study was done by consulting firm Tripp Umbach. System administrators and Tripp officials presented the results to lawmakers on Tuesday, the Columbia Missourian reported.

Every year, St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus Pruitt lobbies to boost funding to Missouri’s historically black colleges and universities, and every year, he said, it’s more of the same: Missouri’s HBCU’s will come out at the end of the budget process underfunded again. Though higher education has seen across the board cuts in the last few years, this problem has always afflicted HBCU’s, said Pruitt.

Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

A newly published Economic Impact report says that the University of Missouri System brings in over $5 billion dollars each year to the state of Missouri.


The MU School of Music broke ground Sunday on a new music center that will be built on the Columbia campus. The first phase will include rehearsal spaces, learning labs and a recording suite.

Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield of Westphalia gifted ten million dollars to phase one of the project.

“My long term is to make Missouri a Mecca for musical composition and we’re half way there and what we needed was a place, a physical place,” Jeanne Sinquefield said.

UM Curators Prepared to Send Five-Year Capital Plan for Approval in April

Mar 21, 2018

A Translational Precision Medicine Complex and renovations to the School of Nursing are the proposed top capital priorities for MU from 2019 to 2023.

Mizzou Columns
David Chicopham / Flickr

In a joint statement, the University of Missouri and Farmhouse International Fraternity announced the closure of MU's fraternity chapter after allegations of hazing and other misconduct involving alcohol. 

First 2018 Kemper Fellowship Award Announced

Mar 19, 2018
Courtesy of University of Missouri

Shelly Rodgers, a strategic communications professor in the Missouri School of Journalism, is the first 2018 William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence recipient. She was surprised with the award and a $10,000 check while in a meeting with her colleagues.

“I am so deeply indebted and just humbled by this entire process and this award.” Rodgers said.

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