Education

When Wildlife Documentaries Jump The Shark

Aug 30, 2014

This summer's Shark Week on the Discovery Channel was the highest-rated in the special's 27-year history. But that success has also brought complaints.

The network has been criticized for pushing entertainment at the cost of science, with "documentaries" that advance dubious theories — or are entirely fake. Discovery Channel has aired specials about everything from mythical monster sharks in Louisiana's rivers to long-extinct Megalodons supposedly still swimming the seas.

columns at university of missouri
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A federal appeals court has ruled that course syllabi are exempt from Missouri's open records law because they are the intellectual property of faculty members.

Columns and Jesse Hall
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The University of Missouri reports record enrollment at its flagship Columbia campus as fall classes begin.

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Only one alternative charter high school is still operating in Missouri, prompting supporters to suggest the state change the way it measures progress at a school that serves only students who struggle academically or drop out.

The Star reports DeLaSalle Education Center in Kansas City is the only alternative charter high school among 45 charter schools operating in Kansas City and St. Louis. Only nine of the charter schools are high schools.

When you think about a sentence, you usually think about words — not lines. But sentence diagramming brings geometry into grammar.

If you weren't taught to diagram a sentence, this might sound a little zany. But the practice has a long — and controversial — history in U.S. schools.

And while it was once commonplace, many people today don't even know what it is.

So let's start with the basics.

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School started Tuesday for Columbia Public Schools. District officials say the first day went off without any problems despite district-wide construction and renovations that took place over the summer.

During the summer, CPS was working on $48 million-worth of projects, not including construction of the new Battle Elementary, which is expected to open for summer classes in 2015. Columbia Public Schools spokesperson Michelle Baumstark says there are still a few minor adjustments to be made in the first weeks of classes.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators has extended president Tim Wolfe's contract through June 30, 2018.

The extension announced Wednesday was effective July 1 and replaces a contract that was to end Feb. 15.

Board Chairman Don Downing said in a news release that enrollment and donations have substantially increased since Wolfe became system president in February 2012.

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Three years after its high school was destroyed by a tornado, the Joplin school district is preparing to move into a new high school.

Superintendent C.J. Huff said hundreds of volunteers will start moving equipment and supplies into the high school on Monday. Classes are scheduled to begin next Monday.

The school district on Friday received its temporary certificate of occupancy for the school. Huff says inspectors have pinpointed some areas that still need to be addressed and the district is working to get the work finished quickly.

This week, as most metro-area students head back to class, there's a fair amount of uncertainty for Missouri teachers who aren't sure what changes, if any, are coming to the Common Core academic standards they've been using for the past four years.

Elected officials have until October to name their picks for committees to review the state's academic standards. And depending on those committees' feedback, Missouri could have all-new standards in two years.

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Student scores on standardized tests are down in most subjects in Missouri.

Statewide figures released Tuesday by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education show that fewer students scored "proficient" or better this year on tests for communication arts, mathematics and science, compared to last year. The only overall improvement was in social studies.

The decline comes after several years of general improvement in student test scores.

John Murden / Flickr

Student scores on standardized tests are down in most subjects in Missouri.

Statewide figures released Tuesday by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education show that fewer students scored "proficient" or better this year on tests for communication arts, mathematics and science, compared to last year. The only overall improvement was in social studies.

The decline comes after several years of general improvement in student test scores.

On this week's Intersection, we will be talking about Science Education in the Columbia Public School System 

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A Missouri judge has ruled in favor of teachers who filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit when they were laid off from the state's online instruction program.

This week, NPR Ed is focusing on questions about why people play and how play relates to learning.

Braden Swenson wanders into a semi-rickety wooden shed on his search for gold, treasure and riches.

"Is there any tweasure in here?" he asks in the endearing dialect of a 4-year-old. "I've been looking everywhere for them. I can't find any." The proto-pirate toddler conducts a quick search, then wanders away to continue his quest elsewhere.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is calling for an investigation into the way leaders at UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management promoted the school.  

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The campuses of the University of Missouri-Columbia and University of Missouri-St. Louis have set new fundraising records.

UCSL Chancellor Thomas George says $31.2 million was raised during the 2013-14 fiscal year — $10 million better than the previous year's fundraising total. The donations helped create 70 new scholarships, contributed nearly $6 million for a new building for the business college and $2 million for the St. Louis Mercantile Library.

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Missouri's community colleges have a new tuition agreement with an online university.

The Missouri version of Western Governors University has agreed to provide a 5 percent tuition discount for community college graduates who take its online courses.

The Missouri Community College Association says the deal with WGU is the first such statewide agreement that the association has signed on behalf of its members. Community college graduates also will be eligible for special scholarships from the online school.

With two weeks to go until teachers report for the beginning of the new school year, the Normandy Schools Collaborative said Monday it has hired 80 percent of the staff it needs, from custodians to principals.

But just to make sure it hasn’t overlooked any good teachers who are still looking for employment, the district said it will be holding a job fair two days later this week.

(Updated 1:29 p.m., Fri., July 18)

Even though the University City School Board has voted to change course and accept students who are qualified to transfer from Normandy, uncertainty surrounding the transfers remains.

Missouri education officials plan to expand a scholarship program to some high school students who came to the US illegally before their 16th birthday.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education says those students will be eligible to participate in the A+ program, which gives qualifying students to receive two free years of tuition at a Missouri community college.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports the program will be opened to students who have applied with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" status.

MU School of Medicine
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The MU School of Medicine announced Tuesday Dr. Patrice Delafontaine will take on the position of dean.

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The University of Missouri has received a $400,000 grant to help restore about 600,000 books damaged by mold.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports the grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation on Wednesday. Libraries staff discovered the mold problem in October at an underground storage site in Columbia. Health officials said the mold did not endanger public health.

Springfield camps get kids ready for Kindergarten

Jul 9, 2014
Michele Skalicky / KSMU

This week at nine Springfield elementary schools, kids are making friends, learning social skills and getting ready to start their formal education.  They’re attending Kindergarten Camp, hosted by the Community Partnership of the Ozarks.  KSMU's Michele Skalicky reports.

The camp started Monday and goes through Friday at Bingham, Bissett, Boyd, Bowerman, Robberson, Watkins, Weaver, Westport and York Elementary Schools. 

Neighborhood Centers, Inc. / Flickr

The Missouri Department of Higher Education is opening up a community college scholarship program to young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

That means students who qualify for the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will be able to trade tutoring hours for two years of tuition reimbursement through the A+ Scholarship Program. 

The deferred action program is tied to an Obama administration initiative that started in 2012. 

columns at university of missouri
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Today University of Missouri Advancement officials announced that MU has set a single-year record for fundraising.

The University of Missouri is expanding an early alert system that tracks academic performance to all four of its campuses this fall.

The system, developed by the company Starfish Retention Solutions, is designed to improve retention and graduation rates by better connecting students, faculty and staff.  

The expansion follows the success of a pilot program at the university's Columbia campus that gives advisors real-time grading information on students and tracks performance trends among classes and subjects. 

columns at university of missouri
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The University of Missouri is making cuts across the board to make up for money it expected it to receive from the state government, but will not. In an email to university staff Thursday, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said MU must make up for an additional $3.8 million that is not coming to the University due to Governor Jay Nixon's recent general revenue withholdings.

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The summer session for Smithton, West, Oakland, Lange and Gentry middle schools began almost three weeks ago and with that beginning, came a huge project for the students to work on.

Westminster partners with Arizona online grad school

Jul 3, 2014
Westminster College
The History Faculty / Flickr

Westminster College in Fulton can now offer its alumni and faculty advanced degree programs. The college announced a new partnership with Arizona-based online graduate school Northcentral University this week. The partnership is expected to provide a "preferred tuition rate" for Westminster students, faculty, and staff for the programs Northcentral offers.

Missouri S&T seal
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The Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla is among a dozen campuses added to the growing list of schools being investigated by the federal government for their handling of sex abuse complaints.

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