education

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Shawnee Mission School District board and its superintendent faced a packed room of very unhappy parents and teachers Monday night.

The district has come under fire for strongly suggesting to staff that they refrain from wearing safety pins. The pins are seen by many as a sign to students that they're in a safe place, but some see the pins as a protest of the election of Donald Trump.

Before the meeting even started, board President Sara Goodburn made it very clear:  we'll listen to your concerns but we're not changing our minds.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Except for the chain of events it spurred in the victim's life, the assault and robbery of Brad Grabs 14 years ago in the Northeast neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, would not have been particularly notable.

Despite the ensuing anger and fear, Grabs says prayer and reflection on the events of that Sunday afternoon led him to believe his assaulters weren’t “bad kids,” he told KCUR’s Brian Ellison on a recent episode of Up To Date. They were youngsters caught in a bad situation with little opportunity for positive growth.

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas has stepped into the battle over whether teachers in the Shawnee Mission School District can wear safety pins.

The district has strongly urged staff to refrain from wearing safety pins saying they have become a political symbol. Others have argued the pins simply tell students who feel threatened after the presidential election that they have a safe person to talk to about issues.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

After being mugged by two teenagers, one educator sought understanding instead of revenge, and founded The Learning Club of KCK, which tutors at-risk children in the neighborhoods where they live. Then, the 2016 elections were kind to marijuana, just not in Missouri. Advocate groups NORML KC and New Approach Missouri are looking to change that.

Laura McCallister / Kansas City Public Library

In the hands of musicians like Charlie Christian, Carlos Santana, and Slash, the electric guitar has become a symbol for freedom, rebellion and rock 'n' roll. Then, find out why celebrities like Will Smith and Casey Affleck are taking new interest in the 1955 murder of Emmett Till.

Courtesy Hickman Mills School District

School district performance reports matter. They can affect accreditation status, real estate dynamics -- even whether students get to go on field trips.

“We are in an era of testing,” Sabrina Winfrey, the principal of Ingels Elementary School, told a group of parents at her school in the Hickman Mills School District recently. “I would love for your kids to go on more field trips, but right now they need to be in this building learning to read.”

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Balloons were practically spilling out of the doors, as parents and children filed into the Central Library in downtown Kansas City for the first ever City School Fair this weekend. 

The library was buzzing throughout the day, with a steady crowd of visitors. Fifty schools were in attendance, spread out at booths on all three floors of the library. 

"It's kind of like a college fair," said library spokesperson Courtney Lewis.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Everyone knew what the judge was going to do Thursday in an 8th floor federal courtroom in downtown Kansas City when former St. Joseph School District superintendent Dan Colgan appeared for sentencing.

Still, there were a couple of surprises.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

Four years after opening a school for 190 elementary students in a former office building on Central Street, Crossroads Academy is planning to open a high school in downtown Kansas City in 2018. But first, it needs a building.

“It’s an exciting time for us to be able to grow and add more kids,” said Dean Johnson, executive director of the charter school. “Parents have asked about a high school and that’s always been part of our goals.”

It's Election Day. We're taking a trip down memory lane, as we explore the first elections many of us got to participate in: class elections. Whether for elementary schools, high school student council, or college class president, these early elections are an opportunity to practice being members of a democracy.

Guests: 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of the Statehouse Blend Kansas podcast, KCUR reporter Elle Moxley and panelists Mark Tallman from the Kansas Association of School Boards and Dave Trabert, President of the Kansas Policy Institute, take an in-depth look at the future of education in Kansas.

This episode of Statehouse Blend Kansas was recorded live at the Johnson County Library Central Branch.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Education political action committees in Kansas are spreading around tens of thousands of dollars to help both conservative and moderate legislative candidates.

There are two big education political action committees in Kansas and they back very different candidates.

The Kansas NEA PAC is funded by contributions solicited by the union and in the last reporting period made about $29,000 in campaign contributions and spent $12,400 on polling.

In a time of diminishing budgets, guest host Brian Ellison learns how fine-arts program Harmony Project is helping underserved kids in Kansas City do better in school. Then, actor Bryan Cranston says a large part of his successful career has to do with hard work and good luck. This week's Local Listen features the classic rock band Kansas, touring in support of its first album since 2000.

Courtesy of Hollis Officer

Do you remember the man who took your tickets at the Tivoli for 17 years? With a recent photo display and theater dedication at the Tivoli, we reflect on the late Bob Smith, an international male model in his prime, who spent the end of his life in Kansas City.

But first, a check-in with the superintendent and a teacher in the Hickman Mills School District, as a part of KCUR's ongoing coverage of the district.

Guests:

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

Journalist Barbara Shelly is spending a year inside two classrooms in an elementary school in the Hickman Mills School District. This is her latest report.

 

Emory Maiden / Flickr - CC

After two of sessions with a federal mediator, the union representing Shawnee Mission teachers says it's reached a deal with the district.

The two sides declared an impasse back in July and met with the mediator once last month and then finalized the tentative deal last Thursday.

Shawnee Mission will put 0.65 percent more into salaries in the new contract, says union president Linda Sieck. That will cost the district, she says, about $2.9 million dollars more this year.

Sieck says this is a modest increase but everyone is worried about the worsening Kansas budget.

St. Teresa's Academy is still going strong, 150 years after the school's founding on Quality Hill. Though a lot has changed since then, the staff's belief in the benefits of single-gender learning has not. 

Guests:

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Educators say students more than ever will need to continue their education past high school to have successful careers.

But as the cost of college continues to vastly outpace inflation, paying for a post-secondary education is becoming more difficult, if not impossible, for many families with a low or modest incomes.

The Kauffman Foundation hopes to ease that problem for 1,500 families in the Kansas City area with a $79 million investment over 10 years in a program it's calling KC Scholars.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Students in the Hickman Mills School District face a lot of challenges, including poverty and a provisionally accredited district, as well as a high rate of mobility: 75 percent of students typically change classrooms, schools or districts within the course of one year.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

At Ingels Elementary School in the Hickman Mills School District, children are lining up outside of their classrooms for the start of the school day. They know the drill; faces front, hands at sides, no talking. It’s the morning after Labor Day, and most of these students have been in classes for two weeks.

 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The State of Kansas is now searching for new leadership at its two biggest universities.

Bernadette Gray-Little announced Thursday that she will step down as Chancellor of the University of Kansas next summer. Gray-Little is the 17th KU chancellor and the first woman and first African-American to lead the university.

Her announcement comes as Kansas State University is in the middle of searching for a new president. Kirk Schulz left in June to take over Washington State University. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers is the interim K-State president.

Charles Riedel / AP

You couldn't have gotten a more different picture of school finance and student success in Kansas than we heard during two hours of oral arguments Wednesday in the state Supreme Court.

The state argued that every public school in Kansas is accredited and an analysis by the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) says Kansas schools rank 10th in the country.

Kansas Supreme Court

The Kansas Supreme Court will hear two hours of oral arguments Wednesday in the Gannon school funding case.

It's hard to imagine an educator, lawmaker or legislative candidate not sitting on the edge of their seat looking for a clue as to how the justices will rule.

Here are some FAQs on the hearing:

So you're telling me the case is still going? Didn't we just have a big Gannon story not long ago?

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Two weeks ago Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said the state needed a new school funding formula and called on educators to email him their suggestions.

At his Statehouse news conference Brownback offered no specific ideas.

On Thursday, the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) talked about what should be in a new formula next year. But, like the governor, the organization offered few details. KASB did urge everyone to email.

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

The St. Joseph School District, smarting from the federal wire fraud conviction of a former superintendent, has asked the federal court to hike the fine to cover the district's financial loss.

Gustavo Castillo / Wikimedia Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Kansas City Public Schools after a school resource officer handcuffed a second grader.

The incident happened in 2014, says ACLU of Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman, after 7-year-old Kalyb Wiley Primm began to cry in class.

Mittman says Primm had been bullied.

“He didn’t want to go with the officer, who was being scary,” Mittman says. “Instead of calming the child, instead of reassuring him, instead of finding out what was wrong, the officer yelled at him, told him to stop crying and then handcuffed him.”

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

It has taken six years, but Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback finally reached out to educators and others on Wednesday to ask for ideas on how to fund public education.

The plea comes after many of Brownback's conservative legislative allies were ousted in the August primaries, and it appears more conservatives may lose their seats in November. It also comes in the final year of the block grant funding scheme passed when lawmakers scrapped the previous formula, which was popular with most school districts.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James is exploring a new program to empower parents of school-aged children.

The Parent Leadership Training Institute is a 20-week program that helps attendees track legislation, analyze data and become involved in public policy on behalf of their kids.

James says highly engaged parents help schools function better, but knowing how to participate isn't always obvious.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

At a crowded campaign stop in Clay County, Missouri, on Saturday, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Koster emphasized his opponent Eric Greiten's lack of experience in government. 

"The Republicans have nominated someone who has literally no experience in state government, who actually sort of uses ignorance as his calling card," Koster said. 

He continued by comparing his opponent to Donald Trump and pointing out that his campaign ads, which feature Greitens shooting guns and detonating explosives, is an accurate metaphor for a new faction of Republicans.

Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

For Mark Bedell, school was a safe haven.

“It gave me an opportunity to be a kid because I had to be an adult a lot sooner than most kids should have to be an adult,” he told guest host Brian Ellison on Central Standard.

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