Ryan Delaney

Ryan is a reporter on the education desk at St. Louis Public Radio, covering both higher education and the many school districts in the St. Louis region. He has previously reported for public radio stations WFYI in Indianapolis and WRVO in upstate New York. He began his journalism career working part time for WAER while attending Syracuse University.
 
He's won multiple reporting awards and his work, which has aired on NPR, The Takeaway and WGBH's Innovation Hub. Having grown up in Burlington, Vt., he often spends time being in the woods hiking, camping, and skiing.

Brittany Woods Middle School feels too empty, too quiet, when teacher Anne Cummings comes to the school to maintain its garden.

The building in University City, like those of all public schools in the St. Louis region, has been closed since mid-March by the coronavirus pandemic. After the long closure, Cummings gets excited for the prospect of seeing her students in person again.

But then the reality hits her like a brick: The idea of being in a school teeming with kids doesn’t feel right either.

On a recent morning of summer school, students were met at the entrance of Gore Elementary School in Jennings with thermal temperature scanners. 

It’s just one sign of the new reality of school during a pandemic, along with masks, social distancing and alternating school days.

Suriyya Lawrence really wants to be a police officer.

But the 17-year-old rising high school senior from Jennings has been getting more doubtful looks and questioning of her choices by friends and family members this summer, as the nation’s focus hones in on the role of police and their relationship with the Black community.

Dozens of St. Louis teachers clung to a sliver of shade offered by the administrative building of St. Louis Public Schools on Monday, clutching signs displaying their fear of returning to the classroom during an unchecked pandemic.

The protest came a week before most districts in the St. Louis region are slated to release detailed plans for how they’ll try to safely bring people back inside classrooms next month for the new school year.

Federal money meant to help low-income families with food costs while kids were home from school this spring is reaching just 60% of Missouri’s eligible families.

The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer is a $5.40 a day allocation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that usually goes to high-poverty schools to feed their students. Instead this spring the P-EBT money was sent directly to families across the country as a one-time check of up to $302.

Updated 7 a.m. May 31 with police information.

Protesters brought havoc and destruction to Ferguson’s police headquarters and the city’s downtown at the end of a night of protests against police brutality mirrored around the nation Saturday.

The demonstrations and their ensuing vandalism were sparked by the death last week of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer restrained him by kneeling on his neck. Protests began in that city and have since spread across the country.

There’s now a template for how in-class learning will look once schools reopen in Missouri. Complying with it all will require some complicated geometry.

The Missouri School Boards’ Association’s Center for Education published a nearly 100-page guidebook for schools on how to operate while navigating a pandemic. It calls for more cleaning and hygiene while eliminating or curtailing in-school activities like choir, recess and gym class, as well as many after-school ones.

Parents are anxiously looking at the summer calendar for when they can get kids out of the house and into the responsible watch of teachers and summer camp counselors. 

Educators and camp leaders, however, say that for the most part, it’s still too early to say for sure.

Missouri schools will not reopen for the remainder of the academic year, Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday afternoon.

"I am ordering all Missouri public and charter schools to remain closed through the remainder of this academic year with the exceptions of nutrition services and child care that are outlined in our recent health order," Parson said.

Editor's note: This story was reported and written before the spread of coronavirus forced widespread school closures across the U.S. — including the closure of South Central High School in Farina, Ill. We're publishing now because we think it's the kind of feel-good story many people need right now. We hope you agree.

Once a year, 15-year-old Brandt Hiestand gets a taste of the kind of independence every teenager longs for.

There are pros and cons: Much less pay. But summers off from work.

As schools across the country struggle to fill science teacher positions, some educators say it’s time to persuade trained scientists and health care professionals to switch careers and come back to school, this time as teachers.

Missouri has an updated rubric for measuring whether school districts are educating kids the way they should be.

The State Board of Education approved the changes at its monthly meeting Tuesday.

“It is an exciting day,” said Assistant Education Commissioner Chris Neale as he sat down in front of the board in Jefferson City.

Not even Gary Bettman knew the name of the first black hockey player in the National Hockey League when he became league commissioner in 1993.

Bettman has since hired Willie O'Ree, who broke the NHL's color barrier when he skated for the Boston Bruins in 1958, as a league ambassador, part of what the league is doing to make its game more diverse.

Updated Jan. 9 with information about teacher recruitment efforts

Missouri education officials have a handful of ideas on how to get more people interested in becoming public school teachers and then staying in the classroom for the long term.

It goes along with a nearly $400 million pitch to increase teacher pay detailed last month.

The six-point recruitment and retention plan reviewed and compiled by a teachers working group was presented to the State Board of Education during its monthly meeting Thursday.

Only nine of Missouri’s 518 public school districts lack full accreditation from the State Board of Education. But some of those districts have been there year after year, struggling to boost their annual performance metrics high enough to prompt state school board members to bump them up to full accreditation. 

The state board accepted the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s recommendation to leave all school districts where they are at its monthly meeting Tuesday in Jefferson City. That keeps 509 districts at full accreditation and nine provisionally accredited. No school district is currently unaccredited.

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