Education | KCUR

Education

KCUR 89.3 covers education issues across the Kansas City region and in Kansas and Missouri. 

Ways to Connect

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Despite the ongoing fight over how much Kansas should spend on schools, the Legislature did at least one thing this year that almost all educators were pleased with: For the first time, it included all-day kindergarten in the school funding formula.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in the Midwest this week on a hastily-planned “Rethink Schools” tour that’s left Kansas and Missouri school leaders scrambling.

To say the call Kansas City Academy received the Friday before Labor Day was unexpected would be an understatement.

Someone from DeVos’ staff wanted to know if the education secretary could visit the tiny private school in Kansas City, Missouri, in two weeks’ time. Head of School Kory Gallagher says he was given until 5 p.m. to decide.

It was already 3:55.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas is setting aspirations for much higher math and reading competency among the class of 2030 — today’s kindergartners — in a long-term accountability plan for its public schools.

Kansas officials submitted the accountability blueprint Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Education. It does not include language promoting controversial school choice concepts that Gov. Sam Brownback’s office advocated for, according to staff at the state education department.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

University of Missouri-Kansas City leaders on Monday acknowledged the mixed results of a survey about the atmosphere on campus. 

The majority of UMKC students, faculty and staff rated their campus “comfortable” or “very comfortable” in the most recent climate study.

But 17 percent of those who took the survey last October said they personally had experienced “exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct” because of their ethnicity, age, gender or gender identity.

And 34 percent of respondents said they had seriously considered leaving UMKC.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

As dozens of Kansas school districts spar with the state over funding for public education, the term “Rose standards” has emerged as arcane but critical jargon among lawyers and judges, and surfaced over and over again in court documents.

Though the term has appeared in past school finance lawsuits in Kansas, following a March 2014 Kansas Supreme Court ruling, it is undeniably front and center in the ongoing Gannon v. Kansas wrangling.

City of Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department

Young black students were five times more likely than their white peers to be removed from Kansas City classrooms for disciplinary infractions during the 2015-16 school year.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Tens of millions of dollars in extra state funding that legislators approved this spring amid pressure from an ongoing school finance lawsuit could go toward raising teacher pay.

In recent weeks, news reports point to school boards throughout the state adjusting pay this year.

UMKC Marketing & Communications / Flickr -- CC

More cuts may be coming at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

An email Interim Chancellor Barbara Bichelmeyer sent to staff Wednesday suggested that the budget situation was even worse than anticipated. UMKC is already operating with a budgeted deficit of $4.5 million for the fiscal year that began July 1.

“We also are now aware of additional risks that were not contemplated in initial budgeting,” Bichelmeyer wrote. “Most importantly, we still will need to make selected strategic investments that will require reallocations from within our existing budgets.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Talking to fourth graders about saving money for college is very different than talking to their parents, Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt found out Tuesday.

“How do you get money?” asked a student at Crestview Elementary, the first stop on a statewide tour to promote 529 college savings accounts.

When Schmitt replied you get money by working, the girl’s classmate raised his hand to ask, “How much do you get?”

Adam_Procter400 / Flickr - CC

University of Missouri officials signed an agreement Thursday that will expand financial aid for lower-income students beginning in 2018.

As part of the Missouri Land Grant Compact, Missouri undergraduates who qualify for the federal Pell Grant program will have all tuition and fees covered. In addition, students who are also enrolled in the Honors College will have all room and board covered.

Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said the awards should have a significant impact on the state.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

This summer, Kansas City Public Schools made a significant investment in one of two district-operated Montessori schools in an attempt to address long-standing inequities between the programs.

“Right here in KCPS we have a jewel, but Border Star is the Montessori program everyone knows about,” KaLinda Bass-Barlow, principal at Holliday Montessori, says.

Holliday was built specifically for Montessori education, opening as a magnet school in 1992, back when district officials thought state-of-the-art facilities might convince white families to stay.

Courtesy of Lee's Summit Police Department

Lee's Summit School Resource Officer Thomas Orr Jr. was shot and killed Sunday night at Californos in Westport.

Police say Orr was an innocent bystander to an argument that broke out between two men on the restaurant's back patio.

The 30-year-old officer had been with the Lee's Summit Police Department for two years. He had just started a new job at Campbell Middle School last week, a district spokeswoman confirmed.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

An online news site that says it "holds government and mainstream media accountable" attacked an instructor at Johnson County Community College Thursday, suggesting her six-figure salary was related to her gender and race.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Former Hickman Mills Supt. Dennis Carpenter has started his new job in Lee’s Summit.

Carpenter, whose Twitter handle is @EquitySupt1, has advocated for an accountability system that was fair for poor, high mobility districts.

He says that work isn’t over now that he’s in Lee’s Summit, one of state’s most affluent school districts.

“We've started some of that conversation (in) the last couple of months, realizing that there is a place for equity in the suburban districts,” says Carpenter. “That's something that we're going to work with through the board's priorities.”

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Is high school too early to figure out what career path to follow?

The Olathe School District doesn’t think so.

When the new Olathe West High School opens for all students on Thursday, the district will have a total of 17 specialty academies in its five high schools.

For as long as most people can remember, the main mission of Johnson County schools has been preparing kids for college.

Courtesy of Avila University

Officials at Avila University say they are investigating a swastika drawn on an academic building on the south Kansas City campus. 

University officials say the swastika was written in chalk and was discovered on the outside of Dallavis Hall Monday. An Avila spokesman says the swastika was quickly removed after being found.  

An email alerting faculty and students to the incident called it a “hate crime.”

"This incident is a hate crime. Avila takes incidents like this very seriously and the incident is being investigated," the email read. 

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

The Missouri State Board of Education on Tuesday advanced what’s been characterized as a “skinny” plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Better known as ESSA, the Obama-era reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind Act as the law governing school accountability. Among other things, ESSA outlines how federal Title I dollars should be distributed to schools with large populations of students living in poverty.

Catherine Wheeler / KCUR 89.3

As scientists and observers stake out their spots for next week's eclipse, Northland schools are already in a prime location to share science with their students.

Monday is the fourth day of school for North Kansas City, which lies in the path of totality. The district is using the day to celebrate the eclipse and make it a day to experience science, says NKC science instructional coordinator Jessica Nolin.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

At 8:55 a.m., five minutes before school was supposed to start Monday, the line of parents trying to enroll their kids at Banneker Elementary was out the front door.

“We’re 140 students over our enrollment, which is a good problem to have,” Principal Harrison Neal says, walking a preschooler to her classroom. “We were projected at 333 students. We’re currently at 462.”

Then he’s back on his walkie-talkie to ask how many students are still at breakfast.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools will need community-wide support to improve student achievement – that’s the crux of a strategic plan the Board of Education approved Wednesday night.

Unlike the district’s controversial master plan, which divided the school board and angered parents and teachers before it ultimately passed in 2016, the strategic plan doesn’t change boundaries or close buildings.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Outgoing University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Leo Morton will be leaving earlier than expected, UM System President Mun Choi announced Wednesday.

In May, Morton, who has led UMKC since 2008, announced his intention to retire in spring 2018. But on Tuesday, Morton told Choi he would leave in October. Morton has been offered a job as chief operating officer at Kansas City-based DeBruce Companies.

Courtesy photo / Kansas State Department of Education

Fourteen schools in seven school districts across Kansas will work this year on revamping the way they serve children, with the goal of becoming statewide models for overhauling primary and secondary education.

The education department is branding the effort to re-envision schools as Kansas’ version of “a moon shot,” referring to the U.S. race to put a man on the moon in the 1960s.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Ladarius Long is checking out the new eighth grade area at KIPP Endeavor Academy, the East Side charter school he has attended for the last two years.

“We’re looking real good today,” he says approvingly. “We’ve got more room. We’ve got tables, lockers – ” Ladarius points to the one he wants “ – but anyway, I just like the setup now.”

Wladyslaw / Wikimedia-CC

Kansas’ private tuition tax credit program doubled in size in the 2016-2017 school year and appears likely to expand again after lawmakers voted to enhance it this session.

More than 200 children from low-income families received scholarships to attend private schools in northeast Kansas and Wichita during the fledgling program’s third year in existence. However, it only was the second year in which children actually received scholarships, because it took private schools time to set up the program.

Elle Moxley / 89.3

The halls of DeLaSalle Education Center are quiet – for now.

“It’s a silence that will go away in about two weeks – and that’s a good thing,” Mark Williamson, the school’s executive director, says.

DeLaSalle, a charter school at 3737 Troost Avenue, only serves kids at risk of dropping out.

“If you’re on grade level, if you’re well-adjusted – or as well-adjusted as a teenager can be – this isn’t the place for you,” Williamson says bluntly.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

When you walk into the new Olathe West High School, it doesn't at all feel like a high school. It could be on a college campus — or even the campus of Microsoft or Google.

There's an atrium when you walk in, along with a large commons area — and even a part of the library where students and teachers can congregate.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Update Aug. 4 5:38 p.m.

Mandi Hunter's lead over at-large incumbent Cindy Neighbor more than doubled Friday afternoon, from seven votes to 18 votes. 

The Johnson County Election updated the primary night vote totals after counting additional mail in ballots post marked by 7:00 Tuesday night and received in the office Friday.

The votes, including provisional ballots, will be canvassed Monday morning.

If Hunter's lead holds she will face Heather Ousley in the general election.

Original story starts here.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education is preparing to take a public stance on the rapid expansion of charters. 

"We recognize as a board the need to create one voice around schools of choice or charters in Kansas City," said Jennifer Wolfsie, kicking off the conversation at the board’s executive session Wednesday evening.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

A fresh legal challenge to the state’s 2014 elimination of teacher job protections has reached the Kansas Supreme Court, close on the heels of a separate lawsuit that proved unsuccessful six months ago.

At stake are due process rights for thousands — or even tens of thousands — of teachers who had earned them before the Republican-led Legislature passed and Gov. Sam Brownback signed the repeal.

In name, the case is a battle between the school board of a 270-student district in rural Butler County, east of Wichita, and two teachers dismissed from their jobs in 2015.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

You don't often see a school board election as contested as the one percolating in the Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) but that's exactly what's happening this year.

There is a primary election on Tuesday, August 1 for two of the three seats up this year.

Pages