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charter schools

Segment 1: A key player in Kansas City's hip hop community died unexpectedly.

In addition to being a producer for Ces Cru, Justin "Info Gates" Gillespie started the Beat Academy of Kansas City at the Plaza Academy, touching a lot of teens. Now the hip hop community is banding together to carry on his legacy and make sure those teens will continue to be supported.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Lawmakers representing district in the Kansas City metropolitan area have introduced hundreds of bills to this year's session of the Missouri General Assembly. 

Some of the bills, like a statewide prescription drug monitoring program or banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, have been priorities for years but didn't get to the governor's desk. Other proposals, like those dealing with violent crimes, have come into focus with a climb in homicides

KCUR talked with eight local lawmakers to find out what they’re prioritizing this session.

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A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Missouri’s religious exemption form for vaccinations.

Senior U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs on Friday dismissed the case brought on behalf of a student at the Crossroads Academy.

The student, identified as W.B., and his parents, Zach and Audrey Baker, objected to language in the Missouri form encouraging parents to immunize their children and warning of the adverse public health risks of failing to vaccinate.

Elle Moxley / 89.3

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Kansas City’s complex racial history is still defining how kids are educated in 2020. That includes factors far outside of classrooms, where housing instability, violence in communities and childhood trauma all have profound effects on schools and students.

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A federal judge has rejected a Kansas City charter school student's claim that Missouri's official religious exemption form for vaccines is an unconstitutional infringement of religious freedom. 

The child, identified as W.B., and his parents, Zach and Audrey Baker, sued the Crossroads Academy and Missouri’s health agency, the Department of Health and Senior Services, over the language in the official form.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

A Kansas City charter school that closed in 2018 still owes millions of dollars to the state – and the Missouri Attorney General’s office has gotten involved.

Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology leaders resisted closure at every turn. They also never distributed any of the computers or education materials to other schools, according to the closure coordinator, and are possibly sitting on millions of dollars owed to the state after selling their building.

Kevin Collison

Académie Lafayette is opening an International Baccalaureate high school in Midtown, accomplishing a goal the French-immersion charter school program established when it started 20 years ago.

“This is the fulfillment of a dream, our vision,” said M. Elimane Mbengue, head of the school, which currently has 1,146 students enrolled in grades K-8 at three campuses. “Every year, our parents had been challenged finding a quality high school.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s first charter school for girls only opens next week with a staff that reflects the diversity of its students and the community.

Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy is entering a crowded charter market, but school leaders are counting on a curriculum that highlights the contributions of women and people of color to attract and keep students.

Parent Monique Cannon decided to move her daughter, Dieerin Jamison, from another charter school so she could have more teachers of color.

Segment 1: The Kansas City Public School Board prepares for a new school year

Both new and returning school board members are preparing for the start of the school year next week. They talked about the timeline for accreditation, the inefficiency of charter schools and how the Jackson County reassessment issues are making an impact on the district. 

Lynn Horsley / KCUR 89.3FM

While residents are in an uproar this summer over residential property assessments in Jackson County, Missouri, an equally important battle is underway in Johnson County, Kansas, where big box stores are successfully challenging major increases in their commercial property values.

The trend could significantly reduce future tax dollars for Johnson County schools, libraries and cities. Government leaders are worried and trying to plan for worst case situations.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Thirty-two seniors from DeLaSalle Education Center received their diplomas Friday, marking the first time the charter high school has graduated every student who started the year as a twelfth grader.

Segment 1: New data analysis of Kansas City's public school environment.

A new analysis shows public and charter schools in Kansas City are more segregated, more expensive to operate, and more complicated than they were 20 years ago. We talked with two officials behind the report about these issues and others, and discussed possible solutions. 

Ray Weikal / Kansas City Public Schools

Both traditional public schools and charters in Kansas City are increasingly segregated, expensive to run and losing high school students, according to a new report from the Kansas City Public Schools.

KCPS is calling it a “system” analysis because it looks at charter schools as well. (Charter schools are public schools that operate independently of KCPS.) Think of it as a snapshot of 20 years of education choice in Kansas City.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

When Kansas City Neighborhood Academy opened in 2016 with the district as its sponsor, it was supposed to start a new era of cooperation between the Kansas City Public Schools and charter schools.

Since 1999, they’d been in a fierce competition for students and resources. Now KCPS was sponsoring a charter. With support from the Chamber of Commerce, Kansas City Neighborhood Academy would be a model for what urban education could be.

But the charter ended up a neighborhood school without a neighborhood.

Kansas City Neighborhood Academy

Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, the only charter school sponsored by the Kansas City Public Schools, will close at the end of the school year, leaving 140 students and their families to find seats at other schools.

Parent Elizabeth Behrens said there were no warning signs that the school was in trouble until this week, when a letter went home saying that the board would vote Wednesday on the future of the school.

Show Me KC Schools

Families of prospective charter school students who used a common application have received their offers and will have until March 22 to pick their top choice on School App KC.

Sixteen of Kansas City’s 22 charter schools agreed to use a common application for the first time this year. Families submitted 4,300 applications for 2,500 students, said Leslie Kohlmeyer, the director of programs for Show Me KC Schools.

Kohlmeyer said families who applied to more than one charter in previous years would have to keep calling different schools to find out their status.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Career and technical education is having a moment, but not in all schools. Most charters still focus almost exclusively on college preparedness.

“University Academy seeks to prepare students for higher education and to be leaders in society,” said superintendent Tony Kline. “The vision is to be the best college prep school in the country.”

Missouri education officials released long-awaited school report cards Friday, and the good news is most schools are meeting expectations.

In fact, 97 percent of public schools scored in the fully accredited range, including Kansas City, Hickman Mills and Riverview Gardens — all districts trying to regain accreditation.

At the same time, fewer than half of public school students in Missouri passed the new, more rigorous math and English tests they took last spring.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio file photo

One of the first major policy issues introduced in the Missouri General Assembly every year is K-12 education funding, which takes up a fifth of the state budget.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Most children are taught that Martin Luther King Jr. created change through peaceful protest, but that narrative oversimplifies the civil rights leader’s legacy.

In schools that make racial equity a priority, educators are starting to change how they teach about King.

Show Me KC Schools

Starting Monday, families living within Kansas City Public Schools boundaries can apply to 16 charter schools with a common application.

“Parents don’t have to go to four different schools and fill out four separate applications,” Latresse Yarbough, the chief operating officer for Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, said. “We really want to show the unity between charter schools and the ease of the application.”

Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy

The first Kansas City charter school for girls only has worked out a deal with Hogan Preparatory Academy to open next year in its elementary building at 17th and Van Brunt.  

Meanwhile Hogan Preparatory Academy Elementary will move to 2803 E. 51st Street, which is closer to the middle and high school.

Courtesy University Academy

The University of Missouri-Kansas City will no longer sponsor charter schools after the 2018-19 school year.

The decision affects eight charter schools that together serve more than 5,000 students. Two of the schools, the Academy for Integrated Arts and University Academy, were quick to announce they were in talks with the Missouri Charter Public School Commission, an independent sponsor that gets its funding from the state.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Most people agree access to pre-K needs to be expanded. Not everyone agrees on how to pay for and oversee it.

Days after Kansas City Mayor Sly James made public the particulars of his plan to fund expanded early childhood education, opposition to the proposal is piping up. Today, we heard educators and community organizers explain why they think the mayor's scheme to get more 4-year-olds into pre-K needs work.

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Segment 1: A shuttered charter school in Kansas City leaves some families in the lurch.

Missouri charter schools will now be able to give preference to poor or struggling students in its lottery admissions system.

That change was part of an omnibus education bill signed into law last week by Gov. Mike Parson. Some charter schools in St. Louis have struggled to maintain their mission as they increased in popularity and surrounding neighborhoods gentrified.

A large crowd of people outside. They are holding up fists at a protest and there are people with cameras near them.
Tyler Adkisson / KBIA 91.3

Segment 1: With only three of eight seats occupied, Missouri's Board of Education has gone months without a meeting.

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens wasn't short on contentious relationships in Jefferson City. One of them? The state's Board of Education, which lost its commissioner in December and has operated without a quorum since. Today, we learned what the vacancies have meant for the state's public and charter schools, and got some insight about how new Gov. Mike Parson may handle the situation.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s first single-gender public school has a sponsor.

The Missouri Charter Public School Commission voted to accept Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy’s application Wednesday morning after an evening of public testimony overwhelmingly in support of the school.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who is on the charter school’s board of directors, told the commission most of his staffers are women.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Friday is the last day of school at DeLaSalle Education Center, a charter high school in Kansas City that primarily enrolls students who haven’t succeeded elsewhere.

It’s also a time of reflection for those who taught them.

At 22, first-year Teach For America corps member Pranav Nanda isn’t that much older than his students. At the start of the school year, Nanda worried students might not respect someone they saw as a peer. But over time, he came to see his age as an advantage.

Families living in the Kansas City Public Schools district have more school options than ever before.  Is school choice improving education for all? A special broadcast of a live forum about this issue.

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