Education

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

Ways to Connect

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The Shawnee Mission school board keeps hearing the same message: prepare yourselves for a possible cut in state aid in the next three months.

By Friday,  we’re going to know how much Kansas collected in taxes in March, and all predictions are that it will be another month of missing projections.

Shawnee Mission Superintendent Jim Hinson again warned the board Monday that poor revenue collections could mean the state would not fully fund schools during the current fiscal year.

This comes right when the district should be completing its new budget.

www.fundforteachers.org

In the ongoing conversation about what constitutes effective discipline in schools, Independence, Missouri, poses an interesting case study. 

In January, the district briefly came under fire from a group of agitated parents over the use of the ominous-sounding "isolation rooms." In the resulting furor, several child development experts questioned the practice of isolating students as a way to control their behavior. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The president of Kansas State University stunned Manhattan Friday when he announced he was leaving for the top job at Washington State University.

Kirk Schultz came to Kansas State seven years ago.

In that time, according to K-State, research grants have increased as have donations to the university.

He plans on leaving Manhattan in May.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

  How much does a college degree cost? What kind of salary will an engineering student make when they graduate? What about an English major?

Starting Wednesday crunching those numbers will get a lot easier for students who are looking at a state university in Kansas. There’s now one-stop shopping for students and parents looking at Kansas universities.

Tristan Bowersox / Creative Commons-Flickr

A former University of Kansas student whose parents sued KU for consumer fraud after they say she was raped on campus has now filed her own lawsuit against the university.

Daisy Tackett’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for violations of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that bars sex discrimination in education.

The suit, filed today in Douglas County District Court, says KU created a hostile environment by housing KU football players in a residence hall, Jayhawker Towers, that it had reason to know was unsafe.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey made a splash this month when he announced he would fund all Missouri teachers' projects on the education crowd-funding site DonorsChoose.org. The gift bought classroom supplies — everything from Chromebooks to crayons— for about 600 educators statewide. 

Tristan Bowersox / Creative Commons-Flickr

A lawsuit against the University of Kansas by the parents of a student who was allegedly raped in one of its dorms seeks to break new legal ground.

Unlike other legal actions against universities over their handling of sexual assaults, this one seeks class action status and alleges violations of the state’s consumer protection law.

Jim McLean / KHI News Service

The Kansas Legislative session is winding down but as it does, you can almost feel the tension ratcheting up.

Two senate committees were working on bills bitterly opposed by educators from across the state.

Some got to the Statehouse just as the doors opened to testify against a bill that would force teachers unions to have a recertification election yearly.

By midmorning, teachers, superintendents and the school board association were breathing easier after the bill was passed out of the Commerce Committee with recertification every three years.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

It’s never been done before.

“And it’s going to work,” Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon told the crowd that gathered in Lee’s Summit Thursday to break ground on the Missouri Innovation Campus.

The campus, located northeast of the intersection of Chipman Road and Ward Road, will be the new permanent home of a 4-year-old collaboration between the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, the University of Central Missouri and other partners.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

July 2017 may seem like a long ways away, but when you’re planning to allow guns on college campuses, it might as well be just around the corner.

How Kansas colleges will comply with the law allowing guns on campus while maintaining security is complicated.

But it’s perhaps most complex at the KU Medical Center and the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas.

Since Kansas lawmakers passed a bill that would allow almost anyone to carry a concealed gun on college campuses, we've been hearing the arguments against it.

MINDDRIVE

 If you go to the 2016 Kansas City Auto Show at Bartle Hall, you may spot among the shiny new SUVs and tricked-out sports cars something more incongruous. It's squat and narrow, resembling a more advanced version of a Soapbox Derby car. 

Look again: that car was printed by a 3-D printer and designed by high school kids in Kansas City. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Ever since the Kansas Supreme Court ruled education block grants unconstitutional and ordered the Legislature to make school funding between districts equitable, many have wondered just how lawmakers will fix the problem before a June 30 deadline.

If the problem isn't fixed by then the Supreme Court says it will close down public education in Kansas.

University of Kansas Hospital

The University of Kansas and KU Medical Center stand to lose the most from $17 million worth of cuts announced by Gov. Sam Brownback Tuesday. 

The state Board of Regents itemized those across-the-board cuts Wednesday.

Kansas Board of Regents

The news that Kansas came up $54 million short of revenue projections in February was bad enough. But a few minutes after the Department of Revenue released the report, the news got worse.

In a statement posted to his official website, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said he was immediately cutting $17 million from the state Board of Regents budget, a 3 percent cut to the state's six biggest institutions of higher learning.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

This story is part of the NPR reporting project School Money, a nationwide collaboration between NPR’s Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.

Updated, April 29:

There is a showdown coming in the next few days in the Kansas Supreme Court.

The high court will hear oral arguments on a school funding lawsuit filed five years ago and now just coming to a head.

Courtesy photo / Kansas City Public Schools

At first, there seemed to be nobody ready to run on the April 5 ballot for three open seats on the Kansas City Public Schools board. Now that's changed dramatically. 

A total of five people have publicly declared write-in candidacies, several coming in the past week. And now two of the races have multiple candidates, lending a sense of belated competition to a campaign that some had feared would be uncontested and, as a result, overlooked. 

A race in Sub-District 5 : Ajia Morris and Catina Taylor

Remember the water cycle? 

It's typically first learned in elementary school, around third grade. You know, precipitation, evaporation, condensation? Many readers may remember filling out a graphic organizer to help them memorize the steps. Others may recall having to answer a question about the water cycle on a standardized test. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

After three hours of public comment and debate, after numerous parents and teachers fought it, a divided Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) Board of Education voted to make sweeping changes for next school year.

The KCPS plan was two-and-a-half years in the making and failed to get board approval when initially offered in November.

The master plan will move many school boundaries effecting up to 15 percent of the district's students.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Natalie Lewis is eligible to be a candidate for the Kansas City Public School Board. There is no doubt, she says, after a critical deadline was deleted sometime Friday from the district's election notice online. 

"Because of that information, I almost walked away twice. But I knew in the gut of guts and in talking to people that that information was not accurate," she says. 

Courtesy photo / Kansas City Public Schools

Natalie Lewis really wants to be on the Kansas City Public School board. How much? Last week she moved into the district to an apartment just off the Plaza for the express purpose of running for the open seat in Sub-District 1, which covers much of downtown. 

"Yes, it was drastic. But that fact that we had no one on the ballot required a drastic reaction," she says.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

An anti-Common Core bill that’s advanced out of the House Education Committee could have broad consequences for Kansas schools.

“This bill basically repeals all the standards in Kansas and directs the State Board of Education and local school districts to start over,” Mark Desetti of the Kansas National Education Association told KCUR’s Steve Kraske on Up To Date Thursday morning.

Blue Valley Schools

The new top person in the Blue Valley School District isn’t exactly new.

Todd White came to Blue Valley as an assistant superintendent last May after leading the North Kansas City School District for four years.

He replaces Tom Trigg who left for a suburban Dallas district last year. He was superintendent for 11 years.

“It was important for us to find a leader who shared our community’s values and goals,” Mike Seitz, Blue Valley Board of Education president, said in a statement. "He is the right choice to take us to the next level of achievement.”

Flickr/Adam_Procter400

For a small group of high school seniors in the metro, their college options are narrowing because of a law passed last year in Jefferson City. 

Once-affordable options like Metropolitan Community College now seem like iffy bets. UMKC and Northwest Missouri State are a stretch. Mizzou? Forget about it.  

Interim University of Missouri Chancellor Hank Foley issued a written statement Sunday night responding to newly released police body camera video of MU Communications Professor Melissa Click in a confrontation with police after a demonstration by the group Concerned Student 1950 at the MU Homecoming Parade.

Here is Foley's complete statement:

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas Supreme Court says the state is not funding public schools fairly and has given the legislature until the end of June to fix the problem. If lawmakers don’t comply, the high court threatens to close public schools.

Republican Sen. Jeff Melcher criticized Thursday’s ruling.

“It’s not unexpected. It’s essentially a temper tantrum by the courts to push their political will on the Legislature," Melcher said. "It’s one of those things where ‘give us the money or the kid gets it,’”

File photo

In a ruling that has Kansas educators cheering, the state Supreme Court has upheld a district court panel ruling that block grant school funding is unconstitutional.

In a near unanimous ruling, the justices said the state is not meeting its equity burden under the state Constitution, which mandates that Kansas children have a right to an equal education whether they live in a poor or rich district.

The justices, as they have historically done, did not order the Legislature to spend a specific amount to fix the equity issue.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

A modified master plan for Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) consolidates two east side schools and turns over one of the buildings to the district's charter school partner, a plan that packed parents from the targeted school into the board meeting Wednesday night.

The new plan still closes Southwest Early College Campus and moves its students to East High School. It also still closes Satchel Paige Elementary on east 75th Street.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

On a Saturday afternoon, four female students from Kansas City's Alta Vista Charter High School are making a three-hour trip in a rented minivan to Omaha. As they get closer, they each practice their pitches for why they deserve a full-ride scholarship to college. 

Brittany emphasizes the long hours she puts into extracurricular work making an electric car.

Anahi lays out how she wants to be a lawyer to better "serve my community" as an adult.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The consolidation of school districts in Kansas is off the table at least for now. The legislation would have cut in half the number of school districts in the state. 

When the bill had a hearing in the House Education Committee, it was clear opposition was mounting from all over the state. The room was packed, many educators driving hours to testify against the bill.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

There seems to be a growing tenseness over the future of education in Kansas.

The fight last year over block grant funding was hardball and, at times, ugly.

Teachers felt under the gun and many decided to leave the state.

But educators say the attacks this legislative session feel particularly bitter and contentious

You could feel it in room 112 North in the Kansas Statehouse where the House Education Committee meets.

Pages