charter schools

Anna Sturla / KCUR 89.3

The Kauffman Foundation and the Hall Family foundation will donate more than $1.5 million over two years to the Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, a new charter school serving East Kansas City.

The Kauffman Foundation is donating $1 million while the Hall Family Foundation is donating $600,000.

“This is a tremendous vote of confidence for our new school,” says Urban Neighborhood Initiative Executive Director Dianne Cleaver. UNI was created by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce in order to revitalize Kansas City neighborhoods.

KIPP KC

KIPP KC has rented space in the old Metropolitan Community College Pioneer Campus building at 18th and Prospect Avenue in Kansas City for eight years. Now, the charter middle school has bought the entire 95,000-square foot property as it embarks on a larger expansion plan. 

The school offers grades 5-8 and will add classes in kindergarten through fourth grade next year. School officials anticipate adding these grades will boost enrollment by more than 100 students, to around 380 total.

It's a question you hear a lot, especially if you have young children and live on the Missouri side of the state line: Where are you sending your kids to school?

We explore the world of charter schools — they're getting so big in KC that even the district is opening one. Who chooses charter schools and why? Are charters bringing on a new era of thriving public education in KC or taking away from struggling district schools? Are they integrating urban neighborhoods or segregating communities in new way?

Guests:

Expectations are high for new Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell and the challenges, including regaining full accreditation, are great.  We visit with the new superintendent on his first visit to the district.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Two things have emerged as Mark Bedell prepares to take over as superintendent for the Kansas City Public Schools; he has plenty of support from the district and he's ready to take over the growing charter school movement in the city.

“I’m very competitive. And we are losing kids to the charter schools so they are a competitor,” Bedell said at a news conference at Paseo Academy.

While Bedell said he would foster a "cordial" relationship with the city's charter schools, he says the district must do better in attracting them to KCPS.

A graduating high school senior without US citizenship reflects on her journey so far. With several college options to choose from, how does this accomplished student's immigration status influence the decision about where to go?

Guest:

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. 

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. 

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.

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.  

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.

Crossroads Academy

Dean Johnson, the executive director of the successful K-8 charter school, Crossroads Academy, in downtown Kansas City, says the most common question he gets from parents is: when are you going to open a high school?

Now, he has an answer. 

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is suing shuttered Kansas City charter school Hope Academy to the tune of $3.7 million.

An audit released last month found the school grossly overstated its daily attendance, resulting in millions of dollars in overpayments from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Hope Academy claimed 97 percent attendance. But only about a third of students ever showed up for class.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

We talk a lot about community and neighborhoods here at KCUR 89.3, so when it came to our attention that some Kansas City third-graders were investigating the same subjects, it piqued our interest. 

Miss Allie Heemstra and Mrs. Valerie Diebel’s classes at the Crossroads Academy (a public charter school in downtown Kansas City, Missouri) have studied history, visited 10 neighborhoods from Waldo to Pendleton Heights, talked to “change-makers” and read about community movements.

A state audit charges the now-closed Hope Academy charter school in Kansas City of grossly overstating its attendance and receiving millions of dollars in excess state aid.

The audit says attendance data submitted to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2012-13 and 2013-14 "was incomplete and inaccurate and significantly overstated actual attendance." That finding wasn't a surprise. DESE did a surprise visit to the school on Paseo in November 2013 and quickly discovered the attendance problem.

In a time when the internet and computers have drastically changed the way the world works, many classrooms look just as they did 25 years ago. But that is changing as artificially intelligent software that adapts to a student's learning level begins to appear in schools.

Guests:

Courtesy photo / Kauffman School

Education insiders in Kansas City have been closely watching the Ewing Marion Kauffman School  ever since it started in 2011.

Now, the rest of Missouri may perk up. 

This week, the Missouri Charter Public School Association named Kauffman its Missouri Charter School of the Year, citing its "strong academic performance," "innovative professional development" and "daily efforts to build community and engage parents." 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

After 18 months of study Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) released its master plan Wednesday night in a long and contentious board meeting.

The plan covers which buildings will be closed, an overhaul of the transportation system, a plan for year-round class for low-performing elementary schools and the rejuvenation of high school extracurricular activities with an emphasis on sports.

The district says about 2,000 children, 15 percent of the district, would feel the change of school closing and the resulting boundary changes.

knittymarie / Flickr-CC

Educators behind two proposed elementary charter schools in midtown Kansas City are eagerly awaiting approval next week by the Missouri State Board of Education.

The Midtown Community School Initiative approached Citizens of the World Charter Schools last year in hopes of opening two schools in Kansas City. CWC operates charters in New York and Los Angeles. They hope to open the Kansas City schools next fall.

Crossroads Academy

One of the more successful charter schools in Kansas City says it plans to open a second campus in time for the next school year.

Crossroads Academy is on Central Street just around the corner from the main branch of the Kansas City Public Library.

It opened in 2012, has doubled in size since that time and now educates about 350 students.

Executive Director Dean Johnson says the school will look for a building to buy downtown that will eventually serve about 400 students in  kindergarten through eighth grades.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Name: Devon Teran

Number Of Years In Education: 8

Role: Assistant Principal, Alta Vista Charter High School (Kansas City)

Devon Teran grew up in Wichita with parents who were educators. In fact, his father served as superintendent of Wichita Public Schools before moving to Grandview nearly a decade ago. (Ralph Teran recently announced his retirement from that post.) 

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

On a recent Friday afternoon, once students had left for the weekend, the fifth-grade team at the Kauffman School in Kansas City stayed behind and practiced walking down the hallway. 

They were working on how to lead students from class to class during passing periods. While six or so teachers played the role of (relatively compliant) students, one teacher would lead them down the hall giving instructions. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

In a heated two-hour debate, the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education voted Wednesday night to get into the charter school business.

The vote was the next step in the process for a partnership between KCPS and the Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI). 

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Kansas City's newest charter high school opened Wednesday. Well, not totally new. 

The Ewing Marion Kauffman School has been on the Kansas City charter landscape for four years now.

It opened in 2011 with a lone fifth-grade class and gradually expanded, adding a grade each year. Now, the school is opening a brand new building on its campus near 63rd Street and Paseo Boulevard.

And that original fifth-grade class will become Kauffman's first set of ninth-graders. 

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

The Kansas City school district may be getting into the charter school business.

The district says it received the OK from the state board of education on Tuesday to become a charter school sponsor.

Kansas City Superintendent Steve Green says if the charter schools are going to continue to play a bigger role in education, the district should be part of that discussion.

"This gets us to the table and allows us to be an active and equal participant in the conversation about charter schools in our community," Green said in a statement.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Last week a group of parents in Midtown Kansas City realized a dream: they raised enough money to get two new charter schools off the ground.

There was a time when such an announcement would be met with suspicion and perhaps even hostility from the Kansas City Public Schools.

Superintendent Steve Green says the district saw itself as a target.

"We isolated ourselves. It’s sometimes a typical response when you’re wounded or in some way hurting you isolate yourself. But it’s probably the last thing you should do," he says.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Maybe it's a decision about which side of the state line to live on. Maybe it's public school versus private, or district versus charter. For some, there may not seem to be a choice in the matter at all. A range of issues factor into where Kansas City families send their kids to school; meanwhile, difficulty discerning myth from reality looms large. Our callers and guests help break it down.

Guests:

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