Elle Moxley

Missouri Schools Reporter

Elle joined KCUR in 2014 as a general assignment reporter. She covered the 2016 election in Kansas as part of a political reporting partnership with NPR. Today, she covers Missouri schools and politics.

Before coming to KCUR, Elle covered Indiana education policy for NPR’s StateImpact project. Her work covering Indiana’s exit from the Common Core was nationally recognized with an Edward R. Murrow award.

Elle has also reported for The Examiner in Independence, Missouri, and KBIA-FM in Columbia, Missouri. She is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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Elle Moxley / KCUR

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill says after what happened in Ferguson, Mo., more law enforcement agencies should be equipped with body-mounted cameras.

"I believe with today's technology, body cams on police officers not only protect members of the community from somebody who might be overreacting, but it really protects police officers, also," says McCaskill, who was in town Wednesday visiting a Kansas City manufacturing company.

McCaskill says she would support legislation requiring the cameras for all police departments that receive federal funding.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill toured a Kansas City manufacturing company Wednesday before calling on Congress to reauthorize the United States Export-Import Bank.

The bank helps finance and insure overseas purchases of American-made goods.

According to McCaskill, 96 Missouri companies currently use the Export-Import Bank, including Western Forms. The Kansas City company sells aluminum molds to pour concrete houses and does about half of its business abroad.

Fewer violent crimes were reported in Kansas City, Mo., in the first half of 2014, down 7 percent compared to the same time last year.

"For example, homicides, we've had 42 this year, which is way too many," says Kansas City Police Captain Tye Grant. "But year-to-date, that's in comparison to 67 last year."

Mayor Sly James tweeted a copy of the police department's monthly crime summary Tuesday, calling the drop "good news" for Kansas City.

Kansas students' scores on the ACT edged up slightly this year, with the statewide average outpacing scores nationally by about a point.

Missouri ACT scores also went up in 2014.

But even though the number of high school graduates who are ready for college has increased in recent years, less than a third of students in either state reached college benchmarks in the four subjects measured by the test.

Elle Moxley
KCUR

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran on Tuesday helped celebrate the opening of a new patient tower and emergency department at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

The Kansas Republican, from Manhattan, Kan., praised local leaders for coming together to complete the project. He then took a jab at Congress' inability to do the same.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

A popular frozen custard shop in Kansas City, Mo., could close after an outside real estate company didn't renew its lease for its Brookside location.

Foo's Fabulous Frozen Custard has been in the same storefront on Brookside Plaza for more than two decades. But owner Betty Bremser learned last week that First Washington Realty Inc. in Bethesda, Md., the company that owns much of the neighborhood shopping district, didn't plan to renew her lease at the end of this month.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Hundreds of Kansas Citians gathered at the J.C. Nichols fountain on the Country Club Plaza Thursday night to protest the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old near St. Louis over the weekend.

The rally was one of dozens scheduled as part of the National Moment of Silence, a movement encouraging people to assemble peacefully to protest police brutality against Mike Brown and others.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

For years, district schools, charter schools and private schools have all competed for students in Kansas City, Mo.

This fragmented education system is a result of years of mistrust between district residents and the struggling Kansas City Public Schools.

Now the district is provisionally accredited and pushing back against its reputation. It's launching new initiatives in hopes of winning families back.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

This spring Kansas students will take a new standardized test aligned to the nationally crafted Common Core standards.

The test is for Kansas children only – last year state education officials dropped a plan to use the same test as 20 other states. Instead, Kansas is using a new exam, in development now at the University of Kansas.

"So ksassessments.org is where you’re going to find everything we’re working on," says Marianne Perie, director of the Center for Education Testing and Evaluation.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

This week, as most metro-area students head back to class, there's a fair amount of uncertainty for Missouri teachers who aren't sure what changes, if any, are coming to the Common Core academic standards they've been using for the past four years.

Elected officials have until October to name their picks for committees to review the state's academic standards. And depending on those committees' feedback, Missouri could have all-new standards in two years.

Or, schools could be given very similar expectations to the Common Core.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

For the first time in two years, Kansas City Public Schools can say they're accredited.

The Missouri State Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to grant the district provisional accreditation after what the board described as two years of improvement. But both the state board and district officials emphasized there is still work to be done.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City, Mo., voters south of the river said no Tuesday to a plan that would have created a new taxing district to expand the city's streetcar line.

Only 40 percent of voters supported a plan that would have laid eight more miles of track to the east of the downtown starter line and added new bus service along Prospect.

"I think the public has spoken fairly distinctly," Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James told streetcar supporters Tuesday evening. "The loss tonight stings a little bit, but then again, this isn't the first time rail has lost in this city."

Mike Mozart / Flickr--CC

Fast food workers plan to rally Friday evening at the McDonald's restaurant at the corner of Troost Avenue and Meyer Boulevard in Kansas City, Mo.

They're pushing for a $15-an-hour wage and asking McDonald's Corp to take responsibility for employment decisions made at franchised restaurants.

Earlier this week, the National Labor Relations Board determined McDonald's Corp has what's known as "joint employer status" in a series of labor complaints filed by striking workers. The ruling means McDonald's Corp can be named as a co-defendant in disputes with franchise employees.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The sidewalk outside of Wanda Taylor's house on Tracy Avenue in Kansas City, Mo., is cracking – it's bad enough that her dog, Faith, steps gingerly around it during an evening walk.

All of the sidewalks in Troostwood, where Taylor is neighborhood association president, used to look like this. But two years ago, the sidewalks north of 51st Street were replaced as part of the Green Impact Zone project. The fresh, new concrete is stamped "GIZ 2012."

“Now see how nice sidewalks – the difference that they make?” asks Taylor.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

President Barack Obama will talk about the economy in Kansas City today, focusing on his executive orders that are aimed at helping middle-class families.

Obama touched down in Air Force One shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday at Kansas City International Airport Wednesday, where an invitation-only crowd of well-wishers greeted President Barack Obama.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says a state program that helps employers offset the cost of job training was instrumental in bringing aircraft maintenance company Aviation Technical Services to Kansas City.

The Washington state-based company has renovated a hangar at Kansas City International Airport and hired 70 employees so far.

For-profit Anthem College has told the state of Missouri it plans to lay off 67 employees in the next two months.

The school has put up a notice on its website that its campuses in Kansas City, Fenton and Maryland Heights are no longer enrolling new students but it hasn't confirmed the college is closing down.

The news comes just weeks after for-profit Corinthian College announced it would sell or close dozens of schools, including the Everest College campus in Kansas City. For now, that school continues to enroll new students.

The Missouri State Board of Education says there's not enough data to approve Kansas City Public Schools' request for provisional accreditation.

The district says its test scores should be good enough to qualify for provisional accreditation next month when its annual performance review is released. But the district asked the State Board to act early, before the school year starts, so it won't lose more students to other districts.

As long as the district remains unaccredited, state law permits students to transfer to neighboring schools.

Kansas City Public Schools

Kansas City Public Schools wants to close Southwest Early College Campus and transform the site into a new high school in partnership with French-immersion charter Academie Lafayette.

The district has been holding parent and community meetings this month to get feedback on the plan, which would require most current Southwest students transfer to other district schools. The next meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Paseo Academy, 4747 Flora Ave., Kansas City, Mo.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was in Blue Springs Friday asking local elected officials to oppose the tax breaks state lawmakers approved in the session's eleventh hour.

Nixon vetoed the cuts, which would have created sales tax exemptions for restaurants, dry cleaners and power companies, earlier this week. He says they weren't accounted for in the budget legislators sent him and would make it difficult for municipalities to raise the money they need through levy increases.

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Of all the possible plans for Kemper Arena, the one that changes the building the least is also the least viable for the city.

"Doing nothing doesn't seem to work for anybody," Kansas City Councilman Ed Ford told members of the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee Thursday morning, kicking off a series of meetings to discuss Kemper's future.

Missouri parents and educators will take a closer look at academic standards as a result of legislation Gov. Jay Nixon signed Monday in what could be the state's first step away from Common Core.

An earlier version of the bill would have barred Missouri schools from implementing the Common Core. But now the state will use the nationally-crafted math and English language arts standards for at least two more years.

Cle0patra / Flickr-CC

The Douglas County clerk says his office will offer financial assistance to residents who need an out-of-state birth certificate to prove their citizenship and comply with Kansas' voter identification law.

County Clerk Jamie Shew says the current law creates two classes of Kansans: Those who were born in-state and can get a free birth certificate, and those who were born out-of-state and must pay to get a birth certificate.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

There are roughly 2,300 child care providers in Missouri that don't have to follow any kind of health and safety regulations – a huge problem for parents trying to find suitable day care for their children.

"There are some folks out there who, either through negligence or circumstance, should not be in the business of providing child care," says Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, "and there's very little to stop them from setting up a sign,  throwing a swing set out back and calling themselves a childcare provider."

Neighborhood Centers Inc. / Flickr--CC

The Missouri Department of Higher Education is opening up a community college scholarship program to young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

That means students who qualify for the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will be able to trade tutoring hours for two years of tuition reimbursement through the A+ Scholarship Program. 

The deferred action program is tied to an Obama administration initiative that started in 2012. 

biologycorner / Flickr--CC

The Kansas State Board of Education agreed Tuesday to throw out data from this year's math and reading exams after hackers disrupted the spring standardized tests.

The decision means the state won't be issuing school report cards this fall.

"We just didn't have faith that the data were going to give an accurate picture of where the students in Kansas are in relation to the new cognitive standards," says Mariane Perie, director of the Center for Education Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas. 

Neerav Bhatt / Flickr--CC

The Overland Park City Council will vote Monday night on a pair of plans to bring Google Fiber to the Kansas suburb, months after striking a preliminary deal.

Google Fiber walked away from that discussion after several council members asked about liability for city-owned utilities such as light poles, even though they ultimately wanted to approve the plan. 

That shouldn't be a problem moving forward, says Councilman Paul Lyons.

Anthony Cramp / Wikimedia--CC

For municipalities that allow fireworks sales, July 4 is a way to rake in the revenue.

Let's start with the cost of doing business.

"The permit fee for a fireworks tent is $1,000," says Spring Hill, Kan., city administrator Jonathan Roberts.

Fireworks are banned in most of Johnson County. But in recent years, Spring Hill, De Soto and Edgerton have decided to allow fireworks within city limits.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

If current forecasts hold, the Missouri River should fall below flood stage late Friday.

For weeks, the Army Corps of Engineers has been monitoring a stretch of the Missouri between Rulo, Nebraska, and Leavenworth, Kansas, after heavy rains fell upstream in South Dakota and Iowa.

On Thursday, though the river remained above flood stage in St. Joseph, Kansas City District Chief of Emergency Management Jud Kneuvean says the metro has been relatively fortunate.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Missouri lawmakers want to put a stop to economic incentives for businesses who move across the state line from Kansas.

But the legislation Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law Tuesday only goes into effect if Kansas agrees to a similar measure to end what's commonly known as the "Border War."

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