Anti-Religious Discrimination Bill Could Cause Religious Discrimination: MO Reverend

Categories: Education

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Flickr/knittymarie
A Republican lawmaker wants to make classrooms fair game for God.
Should Missouri protect religious expression of public schools?

That seems to be the question at the bottom of the Student Religious Liberty Act, which would prohibit school districts from discriminating against students' voluntary expression of religious opinions, including in homework assignments. The bill passed the state legislature last month and is waiting for Governor Jay Nixon's signature (or veto), but critics say the bill is a rehash of existing laws and could, in fact, open the door to religious discrimination in the classroom.

"We want school board members to have a real clear understanding of the rights of students," says the bill's sponsor, Republican Representative Elijah Haahr. "We don't want students to be marginalized. Whether it's a Hindu viewpoint or a Satanist viewpoint, our goal is to make sure they have the same opportunities."

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Two Anti-Evolution Bills Die In MO Legislature

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Flickr/RyanSomma
Evolution may be a divisive topic, but the fossil record provides compelling evidence for the theory. (Also an infinite supply of "Homo erectus"-derived chuckles.)
Whether it was blocking Medicaid expansion, comparing abortion to car-shopping or cutting taxes, Missouri's Republican legislators threw their weight around this year's session.

But amid the victories, two Republican-sponsored anti-evolution bills died quietly in committee. One would have given parents the option of withdrawing their children from classes that taught evolution, and the other instructed science teachers to acknowledge the "controversies" of the biological and chemical foundations of evolution.

"We're talking about a science class here," bemoans Charles Granger, a professor of biology and education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "Teach whatever you want in a theology class, but in science you have to teach the observable facts."

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Five Things We Learned from Tony La Russa's Commencement Address at Washington U.

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@Cardinals | Twitter
"You guys dug it out and played .500 ball."

Former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa doesn't just inspire greatness on the field -- he also inspires greatness in life. Last Friday, La Russa gave the commencement address at Washington University in St. Louis, bidding thousands of students good luck as they go from the minors to the big leagues.

If anyone knows about playing a hard nine to earn respect, it's La Russa. From mediocre player to outstanding manager to a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the former Cardinals skipper has attacked baseball with the mind of a chess player over the years, and it paid off with multiple World Series titles, National League pennants and Manager of the Year awards.

But the advice La Russa offered Friday applies to more than just college graduates or baseball players. Below, check out La Russa's five best nuggets of wisdom that will help anybody grind out a couple of wins and become a "plus" player in the game of life.

See also:
- Tony La Russa, Former Cardinals Manager, Unanimously Voted into Baseball Hall of Fame
- 6 Photos of Tony La Russa Cuddling with Puppies That Will Make You Happy Forever

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Lunch to Blame for Why KSDK Staffers Didn't Stop Kirkwood High School Lockdown: NYT

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alisdair on flickr
"Let's take a long lunch. What could go wrong?"
When Kirkwood School staff called KSDK NewsChannel 5 earlier this year to confirm that the stranger who'd wandered on campus was actually a reporter and to prevent a full-blown lockdown, they couldn't get an answer.

Turns out, everyone was out to lunch.


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STLCC: Undocumented Students with U.S. High School Diplomas Can Pay In-State Tuition

Categories: Education

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Universidad Ya!
Students at a college fair held by Universidad Ya!
After an adjustment to its enrollment policy, St. Louis Community College will now allow undocumented immigrant students with a U.S. high school diploma to pay in-jurisdiction tuition rates, a move that is celebrated by Latino groups as a huge step forward for immigrant youth.

According to STLCC's new policy, "Undocumented Students with a US high school transcript will be admitted to St. Louis Community College and will be eligible to pay maintenance fees based on their residence in accordance with existing residency requirements. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid."

Universidad Ya!, a Washington University-affiliated program that helps undocumented immigrant students get into college, celebrated the move as an important step forward for Latino immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and grew up as Americans.

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Harris-Stowe State Teachers Become First University in Missouri to Unionize

Categories: Education

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Google Maps
Harris-Stowe State University.
Faculty members at Harris-Stowe State University have voted to unionize, making the troubled school the first university in Missouri to do so. And fat bonuses to administrators, as well as big payoffs to "consultants," might be the reason it happened.

The measure passed with 79 percent of the faculty voting in favor of being represented by the National Education Association, the largest professional union in the United States with more than 3.5 million members.

Now that the HSSU faculty has the NEA's legal resources at their disposal (the alliance will be known as HSSU-NEA), it hopes to take on some of the major gripes they have with the school, including those big payoffs.

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Linn State Technical College Drug Testing Ruled Unconstitutional: "Tired of The War on Drugs"

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U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Jim Watson
Linn State Technical College cannot force all of its students to submit to mandatory drug testing, according to U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey, who sided with the American Civil Liberties Union in a decision on Friday.

"The lack of a substantial and real public safety risk alone compels the conclusion that the drug-testing policy is unconstitutional as applied to these students," reads the decision (on view below), which comes two years after the ACLU of Eastern Missouri first filed a lawsuit challenging the college's new mandatory drug tests for all incoming students. In March, a federal judge blocked the controversial policy through an injunction and has now ruled that the tests are largely unlawful.

The ACLU also estaimates that at least 450 of the 500 students who were forced to provide a specimen will receive refunds for the $50 they were each required to pay -- and their samples will have to be destroyed or returned.

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St. Louis Public Schools: Audit Finds Financial Woes, Inadequate Anti-Cheating Measures

Categories: Education, News

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Saint Louis Public School District Facebook
St. Louis Public Schools are in a precarious financial condition and are performing inadequately in a number of areas, including how the district handles at-risk students and how officials monitor testing and potential cheating. So says Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, who released a report today criticizing the district and drawing attention to several ongoing challenges.

The audit's overall ranking of the school system is "fair" (on a scale of poor to fair to good to excellent).

"The district does not have a formal proactive process to identify and investigate unusual fluctuations in school [Missouri Assessment Program] MAP test scores or to identify schools which should be monitored more closely," the audit says. "Currently, it is up to each individual school to determine the extent to which compiled testing data is utilized."

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Missouri State Fair: Boonville School District Backs Superintendent, Announcer Mark Ficken

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Courtesy of Perry Beam
Update below: Mark Ficken, the announcer at the center of the Missouri State Fair rodeo scandal, did nothing wrong during the controversial Obama clown performance.

That is according to the Boonville School District, which is today releasing findings of its investigation into Ficken, who is the district's superintendent.

"The determination in the investigation was pretty all-encompassing," Ficken's attorney Albert Watkins tells Daily RFT. "He did not make any inappropriate statements."

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Missouri State University Sorority House: Two Small Chemical Bombs Detonate, Minor Injuries

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via gammaphibetadeltanu.webs.com
Two small chemical bombs apparently detonated inside a Missouri State University sorority house yesterday causing minor injuries to one individual.

The incident at the Gamma Phi Beta sorority house involved "two chemical overpressure devices that were found to have exploded," the Springfield Fire Department says in a news release.

The fire marshal found "what appeared to be two plastic containers that ruptured from over pressurization." One person -- police don't specify if it was a student -- sustained chemical burns to the arm after touching the substance while attempting to clean up the bottles before fire officials arrived, authorities say.

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