Alyson Raletz / KCUR

These days, it’s hard to find someone who has stayed at one job longer than a decade. For many, exciting opportunities draw them to different companies and new careers.

But for Wendy Guillies, the last 15 years with the Kauffman Foundation have been anything but boring.

Kansas Supreme Court

While public schools in Kansas deal with frozen budgets and lawmakers prepare for another session dominated by fights over school funding, there is a small group of people profiting: lawyers representing the state and school districts in the case now before thes Kansas Supreme Court.

The Gannon case was filed in 2010 and since then both sides have incurred a total of more than $5.5 million in attorney fees, as well as travel, expert witness and lobbying costs.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Over the last year, the embattled St. Joseph School District has had very little good news when it comes to audits and investigations. But Monday it received a report from the IRS that wasn't too bad at all.

The district says after an audit that started in June it will be fined just $27,249. The fine, according to IRS documents, is for failure to pay Medicare taxes for several employees in 2013 and 2014 and for improper documentation for about 30 staff take-home cars in the same years.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

No matter how deep in the weeds you go on the current school funding case before the Kansas Supreme Court; whether you're talking assessed valuation per pupil (AVPP) or local option budget (LOB) the case seems to come back to block grant funding passed last session by the Legislature.

Kansas Supreme Court

On Friday morning, the Kansas Supreme Court hears arguments in a school funding case that's gone on for years and could lead to the Legislature being ordered to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on public education.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the case, and some of the history.

I can't remember a time when there wasn't a school funding court case in Kansas. Why is that?

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.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) is getting ready to release its master plan, and it will almost certainly call for closing some schools and possibly cutting jobs.

In a news release, the district says the goal of the master plan is to ensure that limited resources are being used as effectively as possible.

What that means is that there is a very good chance the some buildings will be closed, boundaries will be moved and that some jobs will be lost. Attrition is more likely than layoffs.

How do you teach religion in public schools without stirring up a hornet’s nest? It's not easy — but if we don’t do it, are we breeding more religious intolerance?


  • Linda Wertheimer is an education writer and the author of Faith Ed: Teaching About Religion in an Age of Intolerance. She is the former education editor of the Boston Globe.
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.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

This story was updated at 9:35 pm

An email to faculty and staff in the Olathe School District has prompted a bitter back-and-forth between the state legislator who authored it and the board of education. It has also triggered suggestions of illegal use of email and a possible Kansas Open Meetings Act violation.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem Denny Hoskins, Republican from District 054provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss education, the Speaker's position, and Missouri's most famous dog, Old Drum.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on iTunes.


  • Denny Hoskins, Rep. from District 054, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Bess Hayles, Teacher from Lee's Summit
  • Kyle Palmer, Newscaster, KCUR
Liz / Wikimedia Commons

Kansas has an unusually high number of teacher vacancies this year.

Some 317 teacher vacancies were reported across the state last month, according to a Kansas State Department of Education report.

Officials said that’s at least 100 more than normal for this time of year.

Special education teachers are needed most, according to the report. There are 46 openings around the state, with many in southwest Kansas where teachers with special language skills are needed for a large population of Spanish speakers, which are always difficult to fill.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

What should a successful 24-year-old know?

That’s the question top Kansas education officials are debating after a tour of the state this summer.

But asking is the easy part. The difficulty comes in figuring out how to actually teach some of the skills.

It's a discussion that could forever change education in Kansas and that conversation comes to Olathe Tuesday morning.

First, know this: the discussion in Kansas is far loftier than how to teach math or reading. It’s at the 50,000 foot level — maybe even 100,000.

Hannah Copeland / KCUR

Bassist Johnny Hamil started out playing what he calls "sleaze-rock." Now, he performs and teaches in many musical languages, and he's trying to teach classically trained young musicians to shred with all-string arrangements of songs by AC/DC and the Ramones. 


What's the process being used to determine how well teachers are educating their students? Steve Kraske examines how educators are evaluated in Kansas and Missouri.


Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

New test scores released Tuesday show only a quarter of Kansas 10th graders have the math skills needed to be ready for college or a career after graduation. Around a third of 10th graders were shown to have English skills that place them on the college track.

The goal of the new tests is to better judge if students will be ready for college or a job after high school. Board of Education Chairman Jim McNiece says this year's scores may not be as high as some people had hoped, but board members chose to set high goals for the state's students.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Mike Besler is a former Kansas state high school champion quarterback and a member of the Blue Valley West High School Hall of Fame. But he still needs a coach. 

"When I first heard, I was kind of like, 'I want my own space.' But now that I've seen how resourceful it is, it's made a world of difference," Besler says. 

alamosbasement / Flickr--CC

Parents and teachers in Kansas may be in for a shock when new standardized test scores are released.

The Kansas State Board of Education will meet Tuesday in Topeka to review the results.

After that, statewide results on math and English are expected to be released and then districts will start to send letters to parents on how their students performed.

Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Brad Neuenswander says because the tests were more difficult, parents should not be shocked with relatively low scores.

Kansas City-area students who transfer during the school year face daunting challenges. Student mobility interrupts a child's education and presents teachers with the task of catching pupils up with the rest of the class.


  • Dr. Leigh Anne Taylor Knight is the Executive Director of the Kansas City Area Education Research Consortium.
  • Ann Jarrett is Teaching & Learning Director for the Missouri National Education Association.
Julia Szabo / KCUR

Name: Kelly Ott

Number of Years In Education: 18

Role: Director of Professional Development (Blue Valley Public Schools)

 Kelly Ott is a second career teacher who came to the profession with the goal of leaving a positive footprint. After graduating from college with International Business and French degrees she worked in the fashion industry in Paris, but she knew she wanted more...

Kelly spoke with some of her colleagues about this shift. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Perhaps the issue that worries current educators the most is where the next generation of teachers will come from.

Lots of teachers are leaving the profession. But what’s scarier than that is the shrinking number of people who chose teaching as a career.

You can blame economics and politics.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Many veteran teachers speak of a time earlier in their careers when they doubted their choice to teach. 

"It was actually one of my first days teaching kindergarten," says Julie Wilson, who now directs the state-run teaching jobs board

"I had to get them lined up for a fire drill, and it was such a mess that by the time I got them out to the playground I was in tears. And I was like, 'What have I done? How am I ever going to teach them if I can't get them to line up?'" 

Around the Kansas City metro, there are roughly 20,000 public school teachers in more than 50 districts and charter schools, teaching more than 300,000 students. 

Broadly speaking, the metro reflects statewide trends in both Kansas and Missouri that show teachers are steadily getting younger and less experienced. Both states have two of the youngest, least experienced teacher workforces in the country, according to the most recent federal data. 

The exodus of teachers from Kansas has caught the nation's eye. As KCUR launches a series highlighting the numerous challenges Kansas and Missouri teachers face, we ask three educators what a day in their lives looks like.


Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

From immigration reform to education and health care, several recurring issues were on the minds of people attending The National Council of La Raza's annual conference in Kansas City this week.

Since Saturday, conference attendees have been milling about the Kansas City Convention Center, going from workshop to workshop to learn about some of the greatest challenges facing Latinos in the United States. 

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.


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.

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. 

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.

With the hope of providing "a shared vision for coordinated cultural development of the region," ArtsKC released its plan in May for the future of the arts in the Kansas City area. This edition of Up to Date looks at the priorities and strategies in the proposal and finds out how new initiatives will be funded.