Education

Education News.

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The state of Missouri is going after a multi-million dollar federal grant that would pay for more children to go to high-quality preschool programs.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says it has applied for a $17.5 million Preschool Development Grant.

This is the same grant program that Kansas said no to last month.

Most educators agree that high-quality pre-school is crucial to improving education at all levels.

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University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little moved quickly to place Kappa Sigma fraternity on interim suspension after allegations of a sexual assault at the house over the weekend.

Lawrence police say the alleged crime was reported early Monday morning. According to the university, Gray-Little authorized the interim suspension letter Tuesday. That letter was hand delivered to the Kappa Sigma house. The action and police investigation were announced Wednesday.

The university's Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access is also investigating.

Two Kansas City metro schools have been named National Blue Ribbon schools by the U.S. Department of Education.

Only 337 schools across the county were named National Blue Ribbon winners.

Some were named for excelling in academics and others for closing achievement gaps.

Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in the Kansas City, Mo., school district was named. This is the second time the prestigious magnet school has won a Blue Ribbon. It was last awarded one in 2008.

The other metro school was Our Lady of Presentation Catholic School in Lee’s Summit, Mo.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Green celebrated the district's recent successes in his annual State of the Schools address Tuesday.

The district regained provisional accreditation last month after losing its standing with the state in 2012. Green, who took over as superintendent shortly thereafter, says many believed at the time the district couldn't be saved.

But he says that attitude isn't helpful in education.

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Later this week, the University of Missouri Board of Curators will vote on a plan to change the way sexual assault and harassment complaints are handled.

But some faculty members say the process is moving forward a little too quickly.

University of Missouri system President Tim Wolfe is proposing a change that would require schools to investigate sexual harassment or discrimination cases within 60 days.

The proposal before the curators also would widen which employees must report harassment to the administration and change the hearing process.

Depending on whose opinion you get, this week’s initial meetings to draw up new school standards for Missouri students were a “Common Core cheerleading session” or a strong-arm attempt that was “hijacked by political extremists” on the right.

Either way, the eight committees impaneled under a law passed earlier this year appear to have a long way to go to meet a deadline of having the new standards ready for approval a year from now.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is jumping into an area it’s never tackled.

At a packed event at the Chamber's Union Station headquarters, Chamber President Roshann Parris said the organization has a new item for its Big 5 agenda of civic goals: making sure every child in the metropolitan area is ready for kindergarten.

"No single issue impacts the health and vitality of our regional community and regional workforce more than education," Parris said.

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There’s been a push in the past couple of years to improve both the access to and quality of pre-kindergarten education.

Now the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce will jump into that effort and add early childhood development to its Big Five initiative.

Chamber President Roshann Parris says after meeting for months with area school superintendents, education researchers and, of course, business people, members decided that the best place to put their considerable clout and resources was in pre-K education.

www.audio-luci-store.it / Flickr--CC

Teach Great, the Rex Sinqufield-backed campaign to drastically change the way teachers are evaluated in Missouri, has shut down.

Last week, late in the day on Sept. 9, Teach Great spokesperson Kate Casas issued a statement saying the organization would not pursue the Amendment 3 campaign. She said that instead Teach Great would embark on a statewide listening tour and that it looked forward to working with elected officials on other grassroots efforts.

Instead, she now says, Teach Great is closing its doors for good.

Now that she has announced her retirement at the end of the year, how should Chris Nicastro’s tenure as Missouri’s commissioner of education be graded?

Using the guarded tone of academia, Alex Cuenca, an assistant professor of education at Saint Louis University, gave this assessment Tuesday:

“I think she did the best she could with the circumstances she was given and the cards she was dealt.”

State of Missouri

Updated, 3:45 p.m. Monday:

Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro is retiring at the end of the year, according to a statement out Monday from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Nicastro has led DESE since 2009. During her tenure, the department oversaw the first transfers under a Missouri law that allows students from unaccredited school districts to leave for neighboring accredited districts.

Authorities in 22 states, including Missouri, are investigating a scam aimed at school districts.

There’s nothing fancy about this scam. There’s no hacking or card readers.  It’s just what the Better Business Bureau calls an old time invoice scam.

It works like this: someone sends around invoices for $647.50 for workbooks.

The company name on the invoice, investigators say, is Scholastic School Supply, which is suspiciously close to Scholastic Inc., the huge educational book publisher.

Kansas City area teachers and students got a welcome surprise Wednesday after Google "flash funded" all the requests posted by metro teachers to a crowdsourcing website. 

Teachers across the nation can post their needs to the website DonorsChoose.org with the hope that someone will fund the request. Google has "flash funded" the requests in multiple metro areas over the last few months, including San Francisco, Washington D.C., Atlanta and Chicago.

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A very contentious ballot issue in Missouri has been suddenly abandoned by its backers.

Amendment 3 would drastically change the way teachers are evaluated and retained.

The constitutional amendment would require districts to base the majority of an educator’s evaluation on student achievement. Teacher pay and retention would be largely based on that data. Amendment 3 would also cut into teacher tenure.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James announced a new program Monday aimed at getting kids to go to school.

A recently released report from the nonprofit Attendance Works says 20 percent of American students are chronically absent from school. The organization calls it a national challenge.

The Missouri superintendents from Kansas City, Center and Hickman Mills all say chronic absenteeism is about the same in their districts.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

This year on Central Standard, we'll be following three teenagers through their senior year of high school, from the beginning of the year through graduation in May, 2015.

Harold Burgos: High school and college at the same time

Age: 17

School: Ruskin High School, Hickman Mills School District, Kansas City, Mo.

www.sjsd.k12.mo.us

Probably best known as the home of the Pony Express, St. Joseph, Missouri received a shock when the Feds came to town. Currently, the School District there is being scrutinized by the FBI, grand jury subpoenas have been issued, and the State Auditor has weighed in with an in-depth review of financial activities involving district administrators.

KCUR’s Sam Zeff has been looking into this and he joins Steve Kraske to explain what has caused all the interest and just how much trouble it could mean for the district.

Visha Angelova / CC Flickr

High school seniors have a lot on their minds: graduation, applying to colleges, a whole year of "lasts." Meet two members of the class of 2015; we'll check in with them throughout the year, exploring the tricky issues that come up in that final stretch to the finish line.

Guests:

landesbibliothek.at / Wikimedia Commons

National Literacy Month might have you thinking about your favorite stories on the printed page, but for 32 million adults in the United States, that page is out of reach. 

On Monday's Up to Date, we talk about the causes and challenges of adult illiteracy and what one local group is doing to fix the problem.

Guests:

Sam Zeff / KCUR

If you wandered into the St. Joseph, Missouri School District convocation a couple of weeks ago you would probably think everything in the district is just fine.

The 2,000 faculty and staff jammed into the Civic Center downtown were loud and seemed primed for the start of the 2014-2015 school year. But everyone in the arena that morning knew the district was in serious trouble.

Since April the FBI, a federal grand jury in Kansas City and the Missouri State Auditor have all been investigating the district of 11,000 students.

Updated, 6:01 p.m. Thursday: 

Police began releasing occupants of buildings at Johnson County Community College one by one Thursday evening after a campus-wide lockdown.

The original post continues below.

Overland Park Police Department officers helped search the campus after JCCC police received reports of a suspicious person with a weapon.

At 4:30 p.m., the Kansas college tweeted that police had ordered a full campus lockdown.

When you recite the ABC's, do you still sing the song? It's very likely you do, and reason lies in the connection between music, memory and learning. 

Guests:

Lauren Manning / Flickr--CC

With all Kansas City-area students back to school, a new report shows just how important attendance is in the first month of school.

A report by the nonprofit Attendance Works calls chronic absenteeism a "national challenge" and says about one in five U.S. students miss 10 percent of school a year.

(Courtesy of Digital Ally)

The University of  Kansas Police Department began the new school year with eight body-mounted cameras that its officers are wearing on all patrols.

The department ordered the cameras last spring – well before the protests in Ferguson, Mo., when a police officer killed an unarmed 18-year-old black man. Since then, many have called for using the body-mounted cameras to keep police accountable.

The KU Police Department has used dashboard cameras for 20 years, said Capt. James Anguiano said. But those video cameras have limited use, for those officers in vehicles, he said.

The Daily Beast

News site The Daily Beast released an extensive review of United States high schools, and two of Kansas City's were ranked as "Doing the Most With the Least."

Out of 25 schools, Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in Kansas City, Kan., and Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City, Mo., ranked 17th and 18th, respectively. 

Cynborg / Wikimedia-CC

Friday is the day almost every school district in Missouri waits for all year. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on Friday morning released its yearly evaluation of schools and districts in Missouri.

More like tax day than Christmas, the results produce winners and losers.

Kansas City Public Schools found out three weeks ago that it moved up to provisional accreditation. DESE bases its entire assessment on a complicated 140-point scale, based on everything from academic achievement to graduation rates and classroom growth year to year.

Courtesy Crime Stoppers

Parents and students in Northland school districts  have a new, more efficient way to relay tips to Crime Stoppers.

Crime Stoppers has promoted its 474-TIPS hotline number for 32 years. More recently, the organization started taking tips by texts. The Northland Safe School Task Force got so many texts that officials reached out to Kansas City Crime Stoppers to help manage the information from students and parents.

JBrazito / Flickr-CC

If you haven’t been in a school lately, you might be surprised that entering one feels like passing through security at Fort Knox.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk about the heightened safety procedures that schools have established in the wake of a trail of school shootings. We also look at the costs and effects of having a larger police presence there.

Guests:

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, a lot has changed in the way police respond to a school shooter.

Squads no longer wait for SWAT teams to arrive. Now, they rush in to try and stop the shooter as quickly as possible.

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Educators, politicians, doctors and clergy all gathered in Kansas City Monday to discuss early childhood development.

Almost everyone agrees Pre-K education is crucial. The mantra for early educators is, "Talk, read, play."

Before they start kindergarten, teachers say, children need a lot of interaction with adults. Research shows that, on average, lower income children start school knowing 900 fewer words than more affluent children.

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