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School Board

Columbia Public Schools' Superintendent Chris Belcher, left, listens in as contractors bid for construction rights on the new high school estimated to cost $75 million. The district receives more than 400 bids for the project, which will be compiled and presented at the school board meeting on July 15.

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As most Columbia residents have heard by now, IBM is planning to move to Columbia. This is big news for most people in the city. It is expected to bring new jobs, new salaries, new diversity of businesses.

It could also mean new revenue for the Columbia Public Schools. Here is an article I wrote about what $4.3 million over 10 years could mean for the school district.

Read it here or (http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2010/05/24/ibm-could-bring-43-million-school-district-slow-cuts/).

What do you think IBM’s possible presence in Columbia could mean for CPS?

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Dear loyal readers,

This is Molly, your friendly Missourian education assistant city editor and editor of this blog. Due to the summer intersession, there will be fewer posts on this blog for a while. I hope that we will occasionally be able to update, but it won’t be with regularity.


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Paddles are being used to punish students who break school rules. Photo courtesy of Google Image.

Growing up in a Catholic family, I had always heard horror stories about how nuns used to slap my parents knuckles with a ruler when they were in trouble. The idea that physical abuse was still being used as punishment in schools never even crossed my mind.  Surely its not legal, I thought. An article stating 223,190 kids were legally beaten in U.S. schools during the 2006-2007 school year proved my thought wrong.

According to the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, 5,129 Missouri students were paddled during the 2006-2007 school year. That is roughly about 0.6% of the overall student population in Missouri.

Paddling is being used as a type of “discipline” in schools, and it is not just in elementary schools. According to the article, this type of discipline is being used in kindergarten classrooms, all the way up to high schools. Students can be paddled for minor infractions of school rules, including violating a dress code, being late for school, talking in class, etc. There are dozens of schools in Missouri who have punishments like spanking in their rule books.

In a few weeks, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) will be presenting a bill to Congress instituting a federal ban on corporal punishment in all U.S. schools. Do you think this bill will pass?

In McCarthy’s opening statement, corporal punishment is still legal in 20 states, including Missouri. Using violence toward students teaches them that violence is acceptable, McCarthy states.

Corporal punishment was made legal after the 1977 U.S. Supreme Court case Ingraham v. Wright ruled schools may use corporal punishment. According to Missouri law Code Section 160.261, “Spanking, when administered by certificated personnel of a school district in a reasonable manner in accordance with the local board of education’s written policy of discipline, is not abuse within the meaning of chapter 210, RSMo.”

Do we want our children to grow up thinking violence is okay? How does this effect violence in schools among the students themselves? What about school shootings? Is it not a bit contradicting to say violence is okay when a teacher is punishing a student, yet not when you bring a gun to school? Or being a school bully?  I am interested in hearing your thoughts readers. Is discipline of this nature okay with you? If your child was spanked with a paddle at school without your permission, would you be okay with it? What ever happened to just getting detention?

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It may be finals week here at Univ. of Missouri, but there is news from the Columbia Public Schools web site that I want to put up. These guys are headed to Washington D.C. in June – one for recognition as a Presidential Scholar, and two will compete in the National History Day Competition.


Alan Hatfield, Rock Bridge High senior, was named on May 3 by U.S. secretary of education Arne Duncan as a 2010 Presidential Scholar along with 140 other high school students nationwide.

Recipients of the award may ask their “most inspiring and challenging teacher” to accompany them to Washington D.C. for the recognition ceremonies. Alan invited Marilyn Toalson, education coordinator of the Rock Bridge gifted students program to receive a Teacher Recognition award from the U.S. Department of Education.

Alan will be recognized along with all other Presidential Scholars in Washington D.C. from June 19-22.


Two CPS students will represent Missouri at the National History Day competition in Washington D.C. in June. Nidhi Khurana, 9th grader at Jeff Jr.High School and Oliver Worthington, 6th grader at Smithton Middle School. They won a statewide competition in April to advance to the national competition in Washington D.C.

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Back in February, Kelly’s post, Junk Food No More?, talked about a possible ban on junk food in schools. I took this as an overhaul of vending machines and school lunches, but apparently the issue of junk food in schools is stretching beyond school grounds in some places.

A recent Washington Post blog linked to an article about an elementary school that imposes some “food rules” on what students can and cannot bring in their lunches.

Children’s Success Academy in Tuscan, Ariz. is a public charter school founded and run by Nanci Aiken, a doctor of physiology and a healthy foods enthusiast. She set up some rules concerning the content of her students’ lunch boxes. Permitted foods include fresh fruits and veggies, natural cheeses and 100 percent whole grains. White bread, lunch meat and food containing white sugar make the “not allowed” list. The school provides no lunches, so students must bring their own.

Now, I’m not suggesting that public schools everywhere are going to start adopting this system anytime soon, but it’s interesting to see how far some schools are going to promote a healthy lifestyle. It’s one thing to cut down on the number of candy bars students have access to at school, but this seems to be affecting parents too. They are the ones, afterall, who must bypass the convenient fruit cups, applesauce and bologna at the grocery store for other lunch items.

So, is banning certain foods from school lunches a good idea or is it crossing the line? On the one hand, childhood obesity IS a problem and maybe schools need to go to extremes to combat that. On the other, let a kid have a cookie.

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If you’ve been following not only the Columbia School District but districts across the country and their fight to improve education in financial times, this may interest you. GOOD magazine found Newsweek’s cover story, “The Key to Saving American Education” as well as a cover story from New York Teacher magazine.

New York Teacher, a magazine that circulates among 600,000 teachers, was outraged by the Newsweek article and decided to fight back hinting that teacher unions are the answer.

This echoes some conversations I’ve heard in the boardroom lately. In fact, last Monday’s meeting CMNEA and newly named Columbia MSTA disagreed on possible collective bargaining. CMNEA wanted to consider a timeline for collective representation, but Columbia MSTA’s President Laura Sandstedt is adamant about remaining outside of a union.

“I can’t think of a decision that would be worse,” she said, but despite her disappointment, she said she would never want either organization to lose its opportunity to be heard.

All this talk of teacher performance and unions can’t come without a discussion of merit pay as well, which I’m sure Missourian readers have heard a lot about over the past couple years.

Here is some merit pay background straight from the Missourian.

No one can really be certain what the “key” to education is, but you can bet more of these debates will be popping up as long as education systems are in need of money.

I would love to hear what the community thinks about these issues and, as always, keep an eye on ColumbiaMissourian.com for more updates on the district.

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