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Johnson County Community College

Segment 1: Flooded fields and fallout from trade wars could mean another rocky year for farmers.

Climate change, flooding, and bankruptcies are just a few of farming's biggest issues — a list that spans a country mile. With voices from Kansas and Missouri, representing small farmers and Big Ag, we dug through the biggest obstacles facing farmers going into 2020.

Avery Gott / KCUR 89.3

A Johnson County Community College trustee faces censure after an emailed letter detailing a lack of oversight at the school was shared with board members.

It details concerns about a myriad of financial policies and claims the school’s art collection is worth twice what the school has published. Some board members worry the letter itself adds to growing concerns about transparency.

“The purpose of this email is to ask for change,” the letter reads. “We can prevent boards from blocking information and controlling access of other board members.”

Segment 1: Two area schools discuss their approach to preventing on-campus shootings, and protecting students

Students across the country live in fear that the next mass shooting might happen on their campus. Today, we hear how two school jurisdictions think about the safety and security of their students, and what steps they can and can't take to keep the next tragedy from happening on their watch.

Avery Gott

The Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees race, which is non-partisan and typically quiet, has been highly contentious this year. Six candidates, including two incumbents, are running for three open spots on the board of the $150 million community college.

Student enrollment is trending down due to low unemployment in the county, leading the school to rely on income from property taxes for 65% of its budget.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Most Americans believe climate change is a serious problem, according to a CBS poll  released over the weekend. 

But few solutions seem to be coming from Washington, DC, or the statehouses in Topeka, Kansas, or Jefferson City, Missouri. So, local officials are trying to step up.

Mike Strong

How many words are necessary to thrill an audience with a murder mystery? Choreographer Kristopher Estes-Brown says he can do it in two: "Look out!"

After all, he suggests, excitement happens in the body as much as in the mind.

"If you're trying to say very visceral things — fear and intrigue and distrust — the body is a really good vessel for that," Estes-Brown says.

The words "look out" are the only ones spoken in what is otherwise a dance performance. Titled "Alibi," its show is billed as a noir thriller.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

A teenager wakes up, gets ready for school. Slips a smartphone into her pocket on the way out the door.

Her day may well include some biology or chemistry, history, algebra, English and Spanish. It likely won’t include lessons on how that smartphone — more powerful than the computers aboard the Apollo moon missions — and its myriad colorful apps actually work.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City area is home to three agencies that work with the federal government to resettle people displaced from their home countries by war, conflict and persecution. Those agencies — Jewish Vocational Services, Della Lamb Community Services and Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas — welcome enough people to make refugee families a presence in the metro.

While not all resettled refugees find their way to a college campus, educators say those who do are highly motivated.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

KANSAS CITY — Seventy hours a week got old. Fast. So did working multiple jobs.

So Joseph Cowsert wept tears of joy and relief the day he got word while bathing his baby daughter that UPS was offering him a 40-hour-a-week position in web development.

“It was like a burden lifted off of me,” he said. “I didn’t realize it was weighing so heavily.”

IIP Photo Archive / Flickr - CC

Most people in Missouri and Kansas could not pass the history portion of the U.S. citizenship test, according to a survey released in February.

Neither could most Americans. The survey, conducted by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey, polled 41,000 people in all 50 states, and 60 percent of them failed the exam.

Segment 1: Six in 10 Americans failed the history portion of U.S. citizenship test.

Michael Rubenstein / damiensneed.com

Segment 1: Kansas City mayoral candidates face future voters in student-hosted debate. 

Last December students at Kansas City East High School asked mayoral hopefuls about issues concerning violence, policing, and economic development in their communities. Now that the race is in full swing, we revisited our conversation with three of the student organizers of that debate to hear how they spent a semester organizing the event and their impressions of the candidates.

Segment 1: Missouri Governor Mike Parson wants $22 million to help "skill up" current workforce for better paying jobs. 

Last week Governor Mike Parson used his State of the State address to announce his approach for workforce development and state infrastructure.  Today, the governor explained his proposal to borrow $350 million to repair bridges and another $50 million for a cost-sharing program to assist cities and counties with their projects. He emphasized a priority for making sure that the people who need help are getting it. 

Marilyn Maye

To be human is to pretend.

If you don’t pretend enough, life can seem boring. But pretend too much and you might get hauled away for fraud – which definitely isn’t dull, but what a hassle.

So try pretending just the right amount at weekend events that will let you make-believe without the risk of mayhem. Well, not much. Uh, let’s pretend I didn’t say that.

1. Marilyn Maye with Kansas City Jazz Orchestra

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Young voters are expected to turn out in these midterm elections in higher numbers than they have for many years, according to a Harvard University poll released Monday.

Forty percent of voters between 18 and 29 said they would "definitely vote." In the past, young people have voted less than those in other groups.

Joni Kabana

Cheryl Strayed knows the power of a story and that repetition ups the voltage.

Strayed is best known for her 2012 memoir “Wild” — made into a movie of the same name — about her solo hike up the West Coast of the United States, and her more recent advice column and podcast “Dear Sugar.”

Victoria Botero

A new combination of ancient song and contemporary dance draws beauty from the hidden history of women.

“Morena” is a Spanish word meaning “beautiful dark woman.” It is also the name of the latest project between Kansas City soprano and musicologist Victoria Botero, the Owen/Cox Dance Group, and a cadre of international musicians.

Mike Strong

Partnering, in dance as in life, requires trust, collaboration and strength. Jokes are important, too.

E.G. Schempf

Cardboard has a smell.

You notice it as soon as you walk into the glass-encased Kansas Focus Gallery at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, where eight of May Tveit’s cardboard sculptures emerge from the walls like sentries, layers of flat, precision-cut cardboard stacked into pyramids arranged in various rectangles. You recognize the smell; you just weren't expecting it in an art gallery.

But why not? As Tveit's exhibition makes clear, cardboard is an evocative medium. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The New Year is a natural time for people to reflect on years past, and look for ways to improve their lots going forward. Today, we do too. First, we discuss the dilemmas American history educators face when teaching inclusive lessons about such a diverse country. After that, a hard look at resolutions. We get expert advice from some very motivated people, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainer. They share tips about making resolutions you can keep, and keeping the resolutions that you make.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Johnson County Community College just received the biggest financial gift in its history and plans to use the money to expand its technical education.

JCCC says it received a $10 million donation from the Overland Park-based Sunderland Foundation. It's part of a $102 million project that will add two buildings to campus.

South African Tourism / Flickr — CC

How can you keep it in?

Don’t even try this weekend, with so many activities to tempt your expressive side, from the pure nostalgia of “Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees” (one of them, anyway) to the opportunity to literally skate away from your troubles.

So how can you not let it out? There you go.

1. ‘50 Summers of Love’

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos touted the importance of making higher education accessible Thursday while on a whirlwind tour of vocational classrooms at Johnson County Community College.

The highly orchestrated two-hour visit included stops to view spaces used for teaching automotive, electrical, welding, nursing and culinary programs.

The stop was part of a six-state tour in which DeVos has traveled to public and private schools, highlighting themes ranging from services for children with autism to Native American education.

University of Kansas

After years of anticipation, and a final round of heated debate in the state legislature, "No Guns" signs finally came down at Kansas college campuses Saturday. The state's new so-called "campus carry" law went into effect July 1.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

There are two college tuition stories in Kansas right now.

The first is a good news story. Johnson County Community College says it will hold the line on tuition. The JCCC Board of Trustees voted last month to maintain the current cost for students. A credit hour is $93 for Johnson County residents and $110 for all other Kansas residents.

“JCCC is a place where every student has the opportunity for success.  By not raising tuition, that opportunity for success is now more achievable for more students,” president Joe Sopcich said in a statement.

Courtesy Andrew Stuart Bergerson

Did Nazis fall in love?

Of course they did, though it may be hard to associate the idea of that emotion with a society that committed human atrocities. But as the Third Reich was rising, individuals in Germany fell in love with each other just like people all over the world fall in love every day.

Kansas Citians have a chance to hear what that felt like when actors stage a script-in-hand reading on Sunday, thanks to a trove of letters between two wartime lovers.

Courtesy Richie Wolfe

Start at Barney Allis Plaza.

Then the slabs at Gillham Park Pool.

Finish at the stairs in front of the abandoned Westport Middle School.

The Line, Richie Wolfe’s documentary about the history of skateboarding in Kansas City, is as much a love letter to the city and its iconic skateboarding spots as a record of the highs and lows of skateboarding industries and subcultures in the region.

Sam / Zeff

The Kansas Regents have given every state run university and community college in Kansas a tall order: vastly increase the number of degrees and certificates they award.

Every Regents school has to graduate 20 percent more students in the next three years and then maintain that level.

That’s 13,000 more associate degrees, four year degrees and certificates a year across the system.

Courtesy Through A Glass Productions

The Kansas City Symphony has released an album of music it commissioned from one of America's most promising composers. We learn about that collaboration, and about the composer's creative process. Then, Langston Hughes lived in Lawrence until just after high school, but still managed to leave a legacy of activism there.

Courtesy Through A Glass Productions

In 1949, Langston Hughes wrote,

Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

Langston’s Lawrence, a new short documentary directed by University of Kansas Film and Media Studies Professor Madison Davis Lacy, explores how Hughes’ lifelong rejection of compromise and fear grew partly out of his experiences as a young boy in Kansas.

Born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902, Hughes lived in Lawrence until his mid-teens.

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