Camille Phillips

Camille Phillips began working for St. Louis Public Radio in July 2013 as the online producer for the talk shows. She grew up in southwest Missouri and has a Master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism, University of Missouri-Columbia.

Camille has also worked at public radio stations in Columbia, Mo. and Kansas City, Mo. As an intern for Harvest Public Media her work aired on KCUR, KBIA, NET Nebraska, Kansas Public Radio and Iowa Public Radio.

In her free time, Camille enjoys reading, dance, hiking and canoeing. She was drawn to journalism as a profession by a passion for hearing different perspectives and a desire to provide a platform for conversation.

If you walk into most public schools in the city of St. Louis, you’d never know that five black parents won a federal desegregation lawsuit in 1975, or that years of appeals resulted in the creation of a much lauded voluntary intra-district transfer program in 1983.

According to a St. Louis Public Radio analysis of state data, the percentage of racially segregated public schools in the city of St. Louis rose over the past 26 years, from 54 percent to 78 percent. Today, most of the students in the St. Louis public school district attend schools where all, or nearly all, of their classmates are African-American.

Charter schools used to be even more segregated than the district. But, in recent years, a handful have succeeded in attracting both white and black families. The choices of past and current parents at City Garden Montessori, in the Botanical Heights neighborhood, illustrate how one charter school achieved integration, and the barriers to replicating that model.

Hundreds of volunteers donned stocking caps and work gloves Saturday to clean up empty lots and complete minor home repairs in University City.

Cold temperatures prevented workers from pouring concrete, but city residents and others from throughout the St. Louis region cleared brush, picked up trash, cleaned gutters and painted railings.

The Riverview Gardens School District is falsely boosting its attendance numbers under an orchestrated effort to regain full state accreditation, two district principals allege in federal lawsuits.

The principals, Danielle DeLoatch and Amanda Bell-Greenough, filed the suits on Tuesday against the north St. Louis County district, alleging that they faced disciplinary action and retaliation for objecting to changing attendance records.

Riverview Gardens, which is trying to return to good standing with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, denies the allegations.

There’s a limited pool of people certified to teach special education in the St. Louis metro area, putting districts from St. Charles County to the Metro East in intense competition for qualified candidates.

Even more well-off schools feel the impact of the shortage, but schools with higher needs and less money often have the most trouble filling positions.

Third-grader students who live in low-income homes  underperformed their more well-off classmates by 50 percentage points in seven Illinois school districts in 2016, according to the advocacy organization Voices for Illinois Children. 

In its annual Kids Count report released last week, the group also noted that only 22 percent of Metro East third-grade students met expectations on the most recent state English test.


Black students in Missouri are four and a half times more likely to be suspended than white students, according to a report released Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.

The ACLU also found that black students with disabilities are more than three times as likely to be suspended as white students with disabilities.

Fontbonne University has been awarded a $1.25 million federal grant earmarked for special education teacher training. It’s aimed at addressing a shortage of special education teachers in Missouri, Illinois and 44 other states.

The private, Catholic university, based in Clayton, will use the funding to provide scholarships to 40 graduate students in its speech-language pathology and deaf education programs over the next five years.

After more than two weeks of protesting the Jason Stockley verdict in the streets, in malls and in business districts, protest organizers implemented a different tactic Sunday. They’re encouraging political engagement as well.

Demonstrators gathered at Wohl Community Center in north St. Louis Sunday afternoon to register voters.

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. told a crowd of a few hundred people that the protests won’t end, but it’s time to put a new tool in place.

There’s a competition afoot among St. Louis-area school districts that are trying to find the best person to fill open superintendent positions.

But it’s not an unusual situation, especially because the area has so many districts, Missouri School Board Association associate executive director Mike Parnell said.

A new, voluntary version of the Riverview Gardens’ school transfer program is serving just a fraction of the students enrolled the year before.

Although Riverview is no longer legally obligated to pay for students to attend other school districts, it made arrangements with several schools to let students remain where they are for up to four years.

But with fewer districts participating on the receiving end and no bus transportation, the new program is serving a quarter of the students who were enrolled last school year.

Updated at 11:15 p.m. Sept. 23, with additional details — The continuing protests over a judge’s decision to acquit former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of murder returned to the Galleria mall on Saturday, where police ended the demonstration and made 22 arrests.

Many in St. Louis are outraged that St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson found Stockley, who is white, not guilty in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black. Protesters marched through the mall to declare that there would be no business as usual until the St. Louis region reformed its criminal justice system.

Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School in East St. Louis is one of hundreds of private schools in Illinois that could see a financial boost from the state’s new tax credit scholarship program.

More than 90 percent of the families who send their children to the school fall below the federal poverty line of $24,600 for a family of four. That gives them top priority to receive a scholarship.

Although children from low-income families get priority,  if Illinois follows the pattern of other states with similar programs, most of the tax credit scholarships will go to middle-class families.

 

Restaurants and shops along the Delmar Loop in University City were bustling Sunday, hours after protesters took to the streets in the arts and entertainment district.

On Saturday night, Delmar Boulevard was packed with people expressing outrage over a judge’s decision to find former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith. The protests were peaceful, but after the official demonstration was over, there were some confrontations between protesters and police. Twenty-three businesses were damaged, with dozens of windows broken, according to the University City Police Department.

There were no serious injuries, but officers made 10 arrests and five people face various charges from looting to assault on a law enforcement officer, officials with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, St. Louis County police and University City police said. 

 

 

Updated at 11:25 p.m. with new details from evening protests — A second full day of outrage over former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal in the 2011 fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith took protesters to a St. Louis County mall, downtown St. Louis and a mass rally Saturday night in the Delmar Loop.

A $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will make it easier for three Missouri districts to meet new federal accountability metrics for students learning English.

Many current high school students with temporary immigration status won’t be protected by the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program until they graduate.

That could make it difficult for 16-year-old Karla Vasquez of St. Louis and others to plan for their future, including whether to go to college in the United States. Karla already is thinking of going to another country or returning to Honduras, where she lived until she was 3, because she doesn’t want to live in fear of being deported.

Catholic education is a tradition almost as old as St. Louis itself. Saint Louis University was founded by Jesuit priests in 1818, and is gearing up for its 200th anniversary.

Yet from kindergarten to college, Catholic education in the area is undergoing a shift due to declining enrollment and cultural evolutions.

For the first time this school year, Illinois public schools statewide are required to measure and report how prepared their kindergartners were for school.

The state board of education is collecting the data to better understand what regions are lacking preschool access.

However, area school districts are concerned the reporting process is time consuming. Several expressed doubt that the information will be useful.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said Wednesday that two of the state's high school annual assessments, administered during the 2016-2017 school year are "unusable."

The results for the Algebra I and English II  exam, known as the end-of-course tests, won't factor into the 2017 school accountability measurements, and won’t be publicly reported.

The state is blaming the test maker, Questar Assessment, for making the results incomparable to the tests administered in the 2015-2016 school year.

Updated Aug. 28 to correct Kris Shannon's title — The director of one of Missouri’s adult education programs is worried high school equivalency tests are being undervalued.

A new Missouri law will establish four adult high schools in the state, including one in St. Louis. The bill sponsor wanted adults to have a chance to complete a high school curriculum because, he said, a diploma is more attractive to employers than a GED certificate.

An uncomfortable silence broke up the thriving discussion about race in Affton High School teacher Brian Jennings’ class this week.

He had just asked the dozen or so white male teenagers in the room how they’d feel if all monuments of people who looked like them were taken down across the United States.

The question was one of several Jennings posed to his senior cultural studies English class, which he’d always used to address race and prejudice. But the current political climate and this month’s violent white nationalist event in Charlottesville, Virginia, forced the conversation to happen as school began.

Belleville’s two public high schools have doubled the number of low-income students and students of color in advanced placement courses in the coming school year — part of a statewide goal to enroll 100,000 underrepresented students in such classes by 2019.

And East St. Louis Senior High is encouraging students to try more rigorous coursework even if they aren’t the top students.

Experts say high schoolers who take challenging classes have a leg up in college. But studies show black students, Latino students and low-income students are less likely to take them.

Chantel Courtney and her two sons took a wrong turn at Normandy’s back-to-school fair last weekend in search of getting her eighth-grader a vaccination. They ended up getting a sneak peek at the high school’s new medical clinic, which opened Thursday.

It’s the first one to open as a direct result of the efforts of a 2014 research project called For the Sake of All, which recommended putting clinics in St. Louis-area schools to bridge gaps in health-care access. Normandy is the third high school in the area with a clinic that offers students services for free or on a sliding scale, and at least two other schools may open a clinic soon.

St. Louis-area school districts are in the midst of a discipline revolution. After the Ferguson Commission in 2015 recommended banning suspensions for students in kindergarten through third grade, schools began looking at how to address the root causes of difficult behavior.

Twenty-one districts pledged to at least attempt to reduce suspensions, and two have followed through, but officials say it can be tough to do without substantially investing time and money.

Officials in Metro East K-12 school districts say they have teacher shortages in some subject areas. But new teacher licensing rules that went into effect July 1 may help.

The more than 80,000 adults in the St. Louis region who didn’t earn a high school diploma will soon have two different ways to finish their degrees.

Enrollment will begin in October for the online program jointly run by the St. Louis Public Library and the St. Louis County Library. And a new Missouri law is paving the way for an adult high school to open in St. Louis sometime in the next two years.

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville is planning to boost salaries, launch new academic programs and continue renovating buildings thanks to lawmakers finally passing a state budget.

The school even expects to receive the $15 million it loaned the Carbondale campus by the end of August.

Missouri education officials are promoting a free, online resource to help kids practice math skills over the summer. Studies show students can lose more than two months of progress during the break.

Illinois passed a budget Thursday for the first time since 2015, and is giving more money to education than in previous spending plans.

But several years of prorated and delayed state aid have forced K-12 school districts in St. Clair and Madison counties to cut staff, increase class sizes, take on debt and deplete cash reserves. And, like the state’s finances, it’s going to take time for districts to bounce back.

Kendric Carlock graduated from St. Louis Public Schools in 2014 with a 2.0 GPA. His parents never went to college. His family didn’t have a lot of money. His odds of attending college were, by all measures, not great.

But the magnet-school grad was determined. With the help of his guidance counselor, Carlock found a space at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. In the fall, he’ll be a senior in the communications department.

Pages