Education | KCUR


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

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Kansas City, MO – Historically black colleges and universities were founded in the United States during a time when segregation and Jim Crow excluded blacks from higher education. Today, there are 104 HBCUs, representing just 3% of the nation's colleges and universities. Yet they graduate nearly 30% of African Americans who earn undergraduate degrees.

This past February, President Barack Obama gave HBCUs a boost: a 5% increase in federal funding and an executive order to strengthen the White House Initiative on HBCUs.

Leaner Spending for JoCo

Aug 12, 2010

Olathe, KS – The Johnson County Kansas budget for next year cuts 159 jobs and reduces spending by $15 million. As passed by unanimous vote today , the spending plan does not raise taxes

Income will not equal outflow in 2011 and the county will need to draw on its reserves.

Springfield, Missouri – As kids get ready to stuff their backpacks with school supplies and head into to a new school year, their teachers and administrators might be getting some financial relief from the federal government.

The U.S. House has passed a $26 billion jobs bill to protect 300,000 teachers and other nonfederal government workers from layoffs.

From the Sumner Writing Project, LLC. website.

Funkhouser School Office Plan Back To Committee

Apr 30, 2010
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, Mo. – Mayor Mark Funkhouser saw his plans for an office of school support sent back to committee yesterday.

The underlying theme of most objections seemed to be unwillingness to let a vote for a study of creating the office be taken as a vote for the office as conceived by the mayor and the his proposed "schools first" program. Council member Cindy Circo went so far as to suggest that the main purpose of the office was to enhance the Funkhouser's reelection chances.

First Small Step For "Schools First" Plan

Apr 22, 2010

Kansas City, Mo. – Mayor Mark Funkhouser got a start on his "schools first" initiative Wednesday.

The city council finance and audit committee approved a resolution to designate a School Support and Public Engagement person at City Hall.

That person would be responsible for coordinating with all schools and school districts in the city - for example, to coordinate information on snow removal and school closings and to get the word out on recreational activities the city already offers for young people.

Giant Expansion Of KU Edwards Campus

Apr 21, 2010
photo by

Overland Park, KS – University of Kansas is expanding its Overland Park Edwards Campus by more than half, with a 75,000-square-foot building for science and technology, business and engineering.

Kansas City, Mo. – Westport High School is slated to close this spring after 103 years. KCUR's Walt Bodine attended classes there in the 1930s, when the school was relatively new, and affluent. A violent crime near a student hangout close to the school changed his life, and put him on the career path he's been on ever since. KCUR's Frank Morris spoke with him about his time at Westport High, starting with the impression that struck him, when he walked in the door for his first day of classes.

Missouri Supreme Court To Hear Charter School Case

Apr 14, 2010

St. Louis, Mo. – The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a suit challenging the constitutionality of the way Missouri funds its charter schools.

The lawsuit filed by the Kansas City School District and two residents argues that the whole system of charter schools violates the state constitutional ban on unfunded mandates. The state directly pays the charters the state funding that would have otherwise gone to the local district.

Kansas City, Mo. – The late 1960s and early 70s were years of civil unrest at colleges across the country. Hotbed campuses created "rumor control" phone lines to provide one central location for information. Over the years most shut down, but the one at the University of Kansas morphed into what a VP at Google describes as an early, phone-based search engine, catering to everyone in the Lawrence community.

Kansas City, Mo. – A slate of candidates who support the school closure plan dominated yesterday's election for Kansas City Missouri's school board. The candidates ran on a slate put together by a new organization called Kansas Citians United for Educational Achievement.

Kansas City, Mo. – When the Kansas City Missouri school board made the dramatic decision last month to close almost half of the district's schools, it was a tight vote, five to four. So tomorrow's election to fill five seats is certain to change the board's dynamic at a critical time.

Many people are seeing the upcoming election as a kind of a referendum on the school closing plan. Two groups of candidates are lining up for and against, if not the plan, then the way it was proposed and approved.

Kansas City, Mo. – Dramatic change came to the Kansas City, Missouri school district this week. After months of research and community meetings, the school board voted 5 to 4 to close 26 schools. It was a harrowing vote for all the school board members, and more than 40 years of Kansas City's history with its school district came up in the final public discussion.

Kansas City, Mo. – Last night, the Kansas City Missouri school board narrowly approved the plan to close 26 schools, and district headquarters. More than 200 parents and community members turned out for an emotional meeting.

Jefferson City, Mo. – The head of the Missouri School Boards Association is calling on Congress to come through with more federal money, in hopes that the state's public schools can be fully funded next year.

The association's executive director Mike Reid suggests that without help from Washington, Missouri schools will have to reduce staff and increase class sizes.

Kansas House Turns Down School Consolidations

Mar 10, 2010

Topeka, Kan. – Kansas House members rejected portions of a bill that would have reduced state aid for some small school districts.

The chamber was debating a proposal Tuesday that would have pushed six districts with enrollments of fewer than 200 students and fewer than 200 square miles to consolidate.

Under the bill, those smaller districts would have had state aid reduced to the same level as those with 200 students. However, that provision was stripped from the bill on a 75-39 vote.

Kansas City, Mo. – Chick Elementary School opened in 1991 as the district's first African Centered Education school. Three years ago, the program expanded to include a 6th grade, and a 7th through 11th grade program on what's known as the ACE Collegium Campus.

Recently, the schools have been in the news because the district wants to combine the 786 students into one building, as part of is "right-sizing" plan, which parents and the school's administrators vehemently oppose.

Kansas City, Mo. – With the Kansas City Missouri school district considering closing half of its school buildings, and school board elections around the corner, many local public schools are at a crossroads.

As part of a special broadcast on the Future of Kansas City Schools, KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross asked students from a variety of district and charter schools to weigh in with their stories of life in the classroom.

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City Missouri school district officials presented a final school closing proposal to the board and the public at a packed meeting at school district headquarters last night. The superintendent's final plan would close 26 school buildings, merging most middle and high schools, and move early childhood centers into elementary schools.

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri's school board is facing the unenviable decision of having to close a significant number of the district's schools. But amid the downsizing, there's a surprising number of candidates running for the board in April's election. Ten candidates are vying for five seats in April's school board election. Two of the races, for the second and sixth sub-districts, have only one candidate each. But it's still a far cry from the past two elections, when none of the seats were contested.

Kansas City, Mo. – Hundreds of people turned out last night to voice their opposition to the Kansas City Missouri school district's proposal to close about 30 schools. It was the third in a week-long series of forums to collect public opinion about the proposal.

Less Will Have To Serve More

Feb 15, 2010

Topeka, Kan. – With Kansas public schools mired in financial difficulties, new calculations show a rise in the number of children who need to be served .

State education officials are said to be shocked by the growth rate, calculated at more than double the number anticipated.

Enrollment increased by 61 hundred students this year. Deputy State Education Commissioner Dale Dennis took note of the figures as talks are underway debating whether to consolidate school districts to save multi millions of dollars.

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City Missouri School Superintendent John Covington has proposed shuttering about half of the district's schools, reducing staff by 700 positions, and moving headquarters out of 1211 McGee. A steep decline in enrollment has left school buildings half full, and the superintendent says that down-sizing will allow him to redeploy resources towards better instruction. He laid out the details in a plan presented to the school board Saturday.

Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri's public schools will be getting more money in Governor Jay Nixon's budget for next year, but they will not be fully funded.

Under Nixon's budget, K-12 funding will increase by $18 million through the state's school funding formula. It's still $87 million short of what schools need to be considered fully funded.

Linda Luebbering, the Missouri State budget director, says given the difficult budget situation, any increase is good

Kansas City, Mo. – Positive parental involvement - it's linked to everything from higher test scores to good behavior in the classroom, and for more than 100 years the PTA has been encouraging parents to get involved.

However, over the last five decades the non-profit's membership has steadily shrunk.

Today the PTA is about half the size it was fifty years ago and is largely clustered in the suburbs, leaving urban districts to account for just a fraction of it's membership.

Kansas City, Mo. – A new pot of federal money will soon be available to school districts that take steps to dramatically transform low-performing schools. Federal officials met with area school districts and community members yesterday to explain the new program.

Missouri districts with schools ranking in the bottom 5% in test scores and graduation rates will be eligible to apply for these funds in the next month. But districts must agree to turn around the low-performing schools in three years by choosing one of several models.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Kansas school board recently selected a new superintendent by unanimous vote. They decided to promote from within the district, and chose Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Business Cynthia Lane. The current superintendent, Jill Shackleford, will retire in July.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Missouri school district holds the first of a series of public forums tonight for input on future school closures and layoffs. The district would have to close as many as half of its buildings, and lose about one third of its employees to be the same size as other districts with similar enrollment.

Topeka, KS – A cash crunch forced Kansas to delay $173 million in aid payments to its public schools this month, and a top education official said Tuesday that a few districts need help from the state to make their December payrolls.

State Budget Director Duane Goossen confirmed that there hasn't been enough money in Kansas' main account to meet its obligations to its 295 school districts. Some funds due in December might not be sent until early January.