Education | KCUR

Education

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

Ways to Connect

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Lee’s Summit R-7 school board is considering a plan that moves about 800 of the district’s 18,000 students to different schools next year.

Conversations about school boundary changes are always fraught. When schools are overcrowded and someone has to move, no one wants it to be their kid.

So tensions were already high when race and equity became part of the discussion.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A software glitch in the Kansas City Public Schools online application made it hard for some families to enroll Tuesday.

Because the district fills seats at its signature schools in the order applications are received, some parents were online at 6 a.m. when the application opened to ensure their child would get into a preferred school next year. Juanita, whose last name KCUR is not using because she is undocumented, was one of those parents.

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.”

UMKC Marketing & Communications / Flickr--CC

The University of Missouri-Kansas City, as well as the other three campuses in the UM System, will extend buyout offers to tenured faculty nearing retirement age, it was announced Friday.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can to alleviate any financial pressure,” MU spokesman Christian Basi said, though he was “not ready to speculate” on whether more layoffs would be coming if too few employees took buyouts.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Some of the parent teachers associations in the Shawnee Mission School District are fundraising machines, but not Rosehill Elementary.

“We don’t necessarily have the connections at our school to bring in extra fun rides or extra huge auction items,” said Megan Peters, one of the PTA parents at Rosehill.

Crumbling sidewalks, peeling ceilings and outdated classrooms are some of the challenges facing Missouri’s public colleges and universities.

A campus review by the Missouri Department of Higher Education tallied up a $1.4 billion deferred maintenance backlog across the state’s two- and four-year campuses. This is the first review of its type in a decade.

Celisa Calacal / KCUR 89.3

Dozens of Oak Park High School students walked out of class Tuesday in protest of the Trump administration’s plans to roll back Title IX protections for transgender people.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3 file photo

UPDATED at 3:20 p.m. Nov. 20 with details from a lawsuit filed against UMKC and Ashim Mitra — University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal suspended a prominent pharmacy professor Tuesday after a Kansas City Star report detailed students' allegations that Dr. Ashim Mitra exploited them for free labor.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. with comments from Vandeven — Margie Vandeven will return as Missouri’s top education official a year after her unpopular firing by then-Gov. Eric Greitens.

The State Board of Education announced its selection of Vandeven as state education commissioner Tuesday. She ran the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or DESE, for three years before she was ousted.

File photo / Kansas News Service

The Kansas Legislature agreed to pay education nonprofit Teach For America more than $500,000 this year for a pilot program to recruit 12 teachers to the state.

But the national organization only recruited three teachers for the state in 2018.  All of them were placed in Kansas City, Kansas, where the local school district pays their salaries and benefits on top of another $3,000 per teacher per year to Teach For America.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Once a week, Waynesville High School in south-central Missouri resounds with the celebratory air of a football game. The marching band has just completed a lap of the hallways, blaring the school’s theme song, “Eye of the Tiger.”

This school rocks with spirit, even though most of its 1,500 students didn’t grow up in Waynesville, and most of them won’t be staying long.

Seven Kansas school districts freed from some state rules now say getting that special status isn’t worth the effort.

Those districts are part of the Kansas Department of Education's "Coalition of Innovative School Districts" program that started in 2013. Districts that join have the freedom to ignore state oversight on some of the ways they run their schools in exchange for pursuing novel approaches for improving student achievement.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The president of the Missouri State Board of Education said he’d be willing to consider full accreditation for the Kansas City Public Schools as soon as spring 2019.

The district, which has been provisionally accredited since 2014, scored enough points under the state’s accountability rules to qualify it for full accreditation two years ago. It was the first time that had happened in 30 years, but the education commissioner at the time wanted more – show us sustained progress, she said.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Chronically absent students are more likely to come to school if treated with compassion than threatened with truancy.

That’s what a national expert on attendance policy said Monday at an absenteeism summit for educators convened by the United Way of Greater Kansas City.

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.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

For months, Missouri education officials warned schools that new math and English language arts tests would be harder and scores would drop.

Now preliminary data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education suggests those drops are going to be significant.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

For students who speak a language other than English at home, it can take years to learn English well enough to pass tests at school.

For refugee students – many of whom never went to school – it can take even longer.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Take a look at the Kansas budget and one item looms large, eating up more state spending than anything else.

Schools swallow about $4.5 billion. That spending rose after an infusion of cash by lawmakers earlier this year in response to a court ruling in a long-running fight over whether state government does enough to support public education.

Kansas schools are still struggling to hire teachers.

There are more than 600 vacant teaching positions in Kansas, nearly 100 more than in the fall of 2017. Special education and elementary positions have the largest number of vacancies.

The Kansas State Board of Education received the update on Tuesday from the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee. The main reason for the open positions is a lack of applicants or qualified applicants.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

As Missouri school districts await state test scores they should have received months ago, some administrators said they're getting frustrated with the delay.

“I don’t have the data right now for math and reading to even make a determination as to whether the things we invested in last year are making a difference,” Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell said.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Lee’s Summit Superintendent Dennis Carpenter is urging residents of the district to “believe the data” that shows significant achievement gaps between students of color and their white peers.

Originally the district wanted to bring in a diversity consultant to speak to the school board at their Oct. 3 meeting, but the proposed training roiled Lee’s Summit parents participating in an online discussion group. Last week they asked the school board to back up the superintendent’s assertion that white students were outperforming students of color with data.

About two decades ago the Wichita School Board, disturbed by an increasing number of guns, knives and other weapons being brought to schools, decided to take a hard-line approach:

Zero tolerance.

The board, prompted by the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, passed a policy mandating that any student caught with a gun — or a realistic-looking replica — on school property or at a school-sponsored event would be expelled for a full year.

No weapons — no questions, no excuses.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Parents whose kids attend Lee’s Summit schools are growing increasingly frustrated with the school board and superintendent as tensions escalate over issues of equity and race.

It was standing room only Tuesday night as parents demanded the Board of Education justify the need for professional development from a particular diversity consultant.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / KCUR/Kansas News Service

Angie Schreiber sees it time and again: dyslexic students failing to learn to read through traditional teaching techniques.

But she says she knows how they can flourish.

Schreiber’s private teaching service in Emporia uses an approach known as structured literacy. The method drills students on myriad rules of English sound and spelling that most of us never learned consciously.

Olathe Public Schools

Kansas public schools will see $27 million from the U.S. Department of Education to improve literacy for all kids — including those not yet old enough for school.

Courtesy UM System

It’s likely layoffs will be necessary to pay for what University of Missouri System President Mun Choi outlined as priorities in a speech last week.

That’s according to Board of Curators Chairman David Steelman.

“Some people are going to lose their jobs. There are going to be program cuts, but we’re going to get the money now for the investments this state needs,” Steelman said Wednesday on KCUR’s Up To Date.

Funding for running school buses in Missouri could return to state funding goals within five years if the state education department’s request to the legislature is fulfilled.

Missouri education officials outlined a $6.3 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year to the state Board of Education Tuesday, which asks state lawmakers for more transportation aid and per-student funding as part of a $140 million increase in its budget.

KCUR Photo Illustration / Lee's Summit R-7 School District

Is it preferable to build new schools or renovate old ones?

Should the priority be to minimize the fiscal impact or minimize student disruption as more families move into the district?

Is it important to consider equity of learning environments when making facilities decisions?

These are questions the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District will ask students, parents, teachers and taxpayers at a series of community engagement events this fall.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

DeLaSalle Education Center has long been the last resort of Kansas City teens who haven’t succeeded anywhere else.

“Back in 1993 when I went, this school for bad kids,” Christina Boyd remembers. “If you had behavioral issues, if you fell behind too far in school, if you were a teen mother, you went to De La Salle when no one else wanted you in the school district.”

Wichita Public School teachers are receiving a more than a 3.5 percent increase in salary. In Topeka, the increase is nearly 8 percent, that district's largest in 26 years.

School districts across Kansas are raising salaries, restoring cut positions and adding new jobs.

Pages