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

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A memorial service for former University of Kansas chancellor Robert Hemenway is set for next Sunday at the Dole Institute of Politics.

Hemenway died Friday, he was 73.

Among his other achievements at KU, athletics reached a high point under his leadership in 2008.

That year, the Kansas Jayhawks became the fourth in major college history to win a BCS bowl game and play in the Final Four the same year. In January of 2008, the Jayhawks won the Orange Bowl.

Esti Alvarez / Flickr-CC

Most adults in Missouri who work with children are required by law to report any suspected child abuse to the state. Too often, child advocates say, reports don’t get made but they hope to fix that later this year.

Two years ago the law requiring child abuse to be reported to the Children’s Division of the Department of Social Services drastically changed.

For years teachers, coaches or other youth workers had to report suspicions to a supervisor. Now state law requires those reports to be made directly to state investigators.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

It's taken six months since a report from the Missouri State Auditor severely criticized the St. Joseph, Missouri School District and three of its top administrators, but Thursday the district finally pushed out its scandal-tainted former HR director.

The district says it reached a severance deal with Doug Flowers. It will pay Flowers $32,000 to leave the district.

KT Kind / Flickr-CC

A persistent teacher shortage remains in Kansas, just two weeks before students start returning for the new school year. 

According to the state-run Kansas Education Employment Board, there were 466 open positions at Kansas schools as of Monday. Of the openings, 236 were for certified teachers. The other openings were for administrators, support staff and other positions. 

dcJohn / Flickr--CC

With the start of school less than three weeks away, thousands of Kansas public school teachers are without contracts for the coming year. But one major Johnson County district is getting close.

While Shawnee Mission, Olathe, and Kansas City, Kansas are all still in contract negotiations, Blue Valley officials say a "tentative proposed agreement" has been forwarded to the district's teachers for approval.

Courtesy photo / Shawnee Mission School District

The Shawnee Mission School District superintendent says it's "highly likely" that Kansas state aid will come in below what's budgeted this year and the district will be forced to tap into budget reserves.

Dr. Jim Hinson told the Board of Education at Thursday night's regular meeting that he's trying to prepare for reductions in the block grant funding passed last session by the Legislature.

"Based on what we know at this time we have great concern about the state's ability to fund the formula that's in place," Hinson says.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

There are a few hundred college students in Missouri right now who are trying to figure out how to pay for a 300 percent tuition hike that they found out about two weeks ago.


Students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who were brought into the county as children are facing a potential tripling of their tuition because of action by Missouri lawmakers, have received good news from the university.

Spokesman John Martellaro says UMKC has identified private donations to cover the difference between in-state tuition and out-of-state tuition.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Just at the time the scandal-ridden St. Joseph School District was hoping to turn the corner on its problems, documents have been uncovered about a former superintendent.

Ballotpedia has discovered that Dan Colgan enriched himself at a time when the district was scrambling to hire staff or even buy books.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Olathe Public Schools is facing a $2 million dollar budget deficit this year.

To close most of that, the Kansas district is laying off 80 people.

But the district also is cutting a program for rookie teachers.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The July meeting of the Olathe Public Schools usually has been pro forma, even a little boring, with election of board officers and some statutorily required actions.

But not Thursday night's meeting. The board, three of whom were just elected, got the news that the district has a $2 million deficit and up to 80 layoffs may be needed to close the gap.

Kevin Dooley / Flickr--CC

KCUR Announcer Linda Sher's life changed when her high school French teacher challenged her.

Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann credits her love of literature to fond memories of listening to her elementary school teacher read out loud in class.

And I owe my career in journalism to my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Bentley, who turned my weakness in writing into a strength by paying me a little extra attention.

MU System

College classes start in about a month but just this week a group of students in Missouri were told their tuition might double and some may lose scholarships.

It’s due to a rule change passed by state lawmakers and could affect hundreds of students.

The rule effects students brought to the U.S. as children and are undocumented because their parents entered the country illegally.

These are the so-called dream children who, in most cases, have spent nearly their entire life in the United States.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Low-income college students got some good news Wednesday from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.

Nixon announced additional money will be directed toward the need-based Access Missouri scholarship program.

At a news conference on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, the governor said Access Missouri serves about 50,000 students at both two- year and four-year institutions.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas State Board of Education has narrowly approved a plan to loosen some teaching requirements for six school districts, including Kansas City, Kansas.

The 6-4 vote on Tuesday will allow the districts to hire people who have expertise in a subject but who lack a teaching license.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The chairman of the Kansas Board of Education says the Legislature and others have to show more support for teachers or the exodus of teaching talent to other states will continue.

The board Tuesday heard the annual report on the teaching profession in the state, a report that covers everything from salary to ages.

Julia Szabo / KCUR

On Tuesday, the Kansas State Board of Education will be presented with some disturbing numbers.

In the past five years, the number of teachers leaving Kansas to teach in other states has steadily grown.


School may be out, but teachers are top of mind at KCUR this summer.

Our special reporting project, Teaching It Forward, is looking at what makes teachers effective and ready for a changing education landscape in Kansas City.

We'll share this reporting later this summer, but for now, we're curious.

What do you remember about your school teachers? Do you have good or bad memories?

Tell KCUR: Who's your most memorable teacher? Why? 

Two Olathe Teachers Win National Award

Jul 7, 2015

Two Olathe teachers have won the highest award for science and math teachers in the United States.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching recognizes two teachers each year from every state. A panel of scientists, mathematicians, and educators select the winners, who receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.  

Olathe educators took home both Kansas awards this year. Jeremi Wonch won for her contributions to middle school science and Patrick Flynn for high school math.

Julia Szabo / KCUR

In the next couple of years, Kansas education will face some of its most unstable times ever.

The Legislature has cut classroom funding. There’s no school finance formula and the the whole system may be thrown into chaos depending on what the state Supreme Court does.

All of this is all taking a toll on recruiting and retaining teachers, and there's mounting evidence that Kansas teachers are becoming disenchanted. And out-of-state districts are taking advantage.

Lauren Manning / Flickr--CC

The state of Kansas is off the hook, for now, for $50 million in back payments to school districts across the state.

Lawyers for the four school districts suing the state, including Kansas City, Kansas, say they expected all along that the order from a three-judge panel in Shawnee County would be stayed by the state Supreme Court.

Late Tuesday evening the high court did just that.

The state appealed last Friday's order from the panel that ordered all back payments to districts be made by Wednesday.

Kauffman Foundation

A new teacher training program in Kansas City hopes to mimic the medical residency training model in order to draw talented educators into the profession and keep them in the classroom long-term. 

The Kansas City Teacher Residency will place new teachers — or "residents" — in a one-year apprenticeship in a high-needs city school. Each new teacher will get intensive one-on-one coaching from a master teacher acting as a full-time mentor. 

"This is what we know sets teachers up for success," says Aaron North, vice president of education for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. "Being observed, getting feedback, having that opportunity to make those adjustments with an experienced educator guiding and mentoring you." 

North says it will give the new teachers of the program a chance to "hone their craft" as they learn how to teach. They will also take graduate-level courses while they work in schools. 


You hear a lot about students being career or college ready — it’s really a rather new way to judge high school success. So new, that there hasn’t been much research about it.

The Kansas City Area Education Research Consortium Tuesday will release its first report on career or college readiness. The report, which will be made available to educators in both Kansas and Missouri, shows data that is not particularly surprising.

Kansas Attorney General's Office

As expected, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt quickly appealed Friday's court ruling finding most of the block grant funding law unconstitutional and ordering the state to make millions of dollars in back payments to school districts by Wednesday.

In a statement, Schmidt said a three-judge Shawnee County District Court panel broke new legal ground with its order, "including attempting to reinstate laws that the Legislature repealed months ago."

The language in the appeal takes the court to task. Schmidt called the order "cynical, calculated and unfortunately political" because the panel "issued its decision on the very day and barely one hour after the Legislature finally adjourned."

Sam Zeff / KCUR

On the 114th and final day of the Kansas legislative session, a court ruling feared by lawmakers and eagerly anticipated by most educators was handed down .

A three-judge Shawnee County District Court panel ruled Friday that block grant school funding, one of the signature issues for conservatives in the Legislature, is unconstitutional.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Many teachers enjoy their summers on a beach or some other far-flung vacation spot. But a small group of Kansas City educators has traded relaxation for innovation. 

The Lean Lab, based at Kansas City's Sprint Accelerator, recently launched its second cohort of "Incubator Fellows". The group of eight--six teachers, one UMKC student, and one tech entrepreneur--will spend four weeks this summer developing solutions to problems they find in Kansas City education. 

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Who says teaching doesn't pay? 

Probably not Libbi Sparks. The Independence high school teacher recently cashed in a career's worth of math lessons to the tune of $30,000. 

Sparks teaches math at William Chrisman High School in Independence, Missouri, and has nearly three decades of experience teaching in public schools.

She's taught everything from middle school pre-algebra to dual-credit Calculus II. In 2012, she earned prestigious National Board certification. 

In other words, she knows what she is doing. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

If you’ve ever researched schools with the Missouri or Kansas departments of education, you know the websites are comprehensive, but a little hard to wade through.

It took three years for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City to gather the 14 million pieces of data that the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Kansas State Department of Education have collected.

Just when things were starting to look a little brighter in the St. Joseph School District, the IRS has stepped into the picture.

On Monday afternoon, the district received notice from the agency saying IRS auditors will be in district headquarters for three days next month examining a wide variety of information.

According to a news release from the district, the IRS will audit documents ranging from board minutes and organizational charts to employment contracts and termination agreements.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Usually the Kansas Board of Regents has weeks to ponder and discuss how much students will pay in tuition and fees at its six universities. But the 113 day Kansas legislative session has forced those discussions into less than 36 hours.

Higher education leaders in the state agreed to a 3.6 percent tuition cap with lawmakers in exchange for not cutting other state funding to universities.