education

Sunflower Development Group

An old Kansas City Public Schools building that’s been sitting empty since 2010 will be soon be repurposed into affordable housing for seniors.

Sunflower Development Group broke ground Monday on the Blenheim school site at Gregory and Prospect. Director of Development Mark Moberly says old schools can easily be converted into residential housing because they’re already subdivided into classrooms. Sunflower has already completed one KCPS renovation, the Faxon School Apartments.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Gov. Sam Brownback wants to add hundreds of new school counselors to public schools in Kansas over the next five years, if they can be found.

That would require a dramatic reversal in a state that’s seen a slight decline in school counselors over the past decade and that may be losing its capacity to train more.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri teachers have made incremental salary gains since last school year, but educator pay continues to trail the national average.

The average Missouri teacher is making $49,760 for the 2017-18 school year, according to a Missouri State Teacher Association report on educator pay. That’s about $700 more than last year but still well below the national average for a classroom teacher, which is $58,950.

file photo / Southeast Kansas Education Service Center

Today, about three of every 20 students in Kansas fail to graduate from high school. Gov. Sam Brownback contends that in five years, only one will fall short.

That would vault Kansas from the middle of the pack to a level no state in the country hits today.

Education experts question if it’s realistic. The governor and the education department, they say, ask for too much too soon. After all, the early years of school weigh heavily. Work with kids learning their alphabet and colors — as much as those studying capitalism and algebra — can determine later who sticks it out.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Fellow Republicans on Wednesday characterized Gov. Sam Brownback’s spending plan — more than $6.6 billion a year — as a beeline return to deficits and an abdication of responsibility in a budding crisis.

The governor, poised to leave for a spot in the Trump administration, unveiled a five-year, $600 million increase in school funding Tuesday evening. When lawmakers dug into that proposal Wednesday, they griped about key details.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service


Gov. Sam Brownback, poised to leave Kansas after a generation of dominating its politics, on Tuesday called for steep infusions of money into public schools — spurring fellow Republicans to accuse him of raising hopes with a “fairy tale.”

Brownback said the state can add $600 million over the next five years — without a tax hike.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

One of the most outspoken school superintendents in Kansas, often a lightning rod for conservatives in the Legislature, announced Tuesday night that she is retiring in June.

Cynthia Lane has led Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools for eight years and spent 29 years in the district. Before KCK she was director of special education in the Spring Hill District.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

A Kansas Supreme Court ruling saying the state must spend more on schools could require lawmakers to find hundreds of millions of dollars. With some lawmakers saying a tax hike for education remains off the table, that financial hunt won’t be easy.

 

Legislators rolled back Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature income tax cuts just last year. It was a monumental task, which ultimately required lawmakers to override a veto from the governor. The fight stretched the session to a tie with the longest in state history.

 

The search has begun for Missouri’s next education commissioner, even though there currently aren’t enough board members to vote on hiring Margie Vandeven’s successor.

Ten people applied for the job by Monday’s deadline. But Board of Education President Charlie Shields said they can’t even review their applications until there are at least five voting members on the State Board.

Public Domain / Pixabay-CC

The Missouri Board of Education is currently in the middle of a political kerfuffle — so, how will area students and teachers be affected? Today, we break down the responsibilities of the Missouri Board of Education and explain their relationship with the schooling system. 

Then, we learn about the formation of the foster care system in America and its history throughout the past century.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Kansas set lofty goals for its public schools in the next dozen years – but the Trump administration and independent experts suggest the state’s plan is as vague as it is ambitious.

The state’s plan lacks concrete details on closing academic gaps in its public schools, so much so that federal officials and outside reviewers question the state’s compliance with civil rights law that demands all children get fair learning opportunities.

Anna Weber worked on the set of the Steven Spielberg's movie, The Post. She shares how recreating the newsroom made her think about history and the role of journalism ... and about her dad, a longtime editor at The Kansas City Star.

Then: a look at the ongoing challenges for families who are trying to find a great school for their kids with special needs.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The New Year is a natural time for people to reflect on years past, and look for ways to improve their lots going forward. Today, we do too. First, we discuss the dilemmas American history educators face when teaching inclusive lessons about such a diverse country. After that, a hard look at resolutions. We get expert advice from some very motivated people, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainer. They share tips about making resolutions you can keep, and keeping the resolutions that you make.

File Photo / KCUR

The former legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas thinks a practice among some school boards of restricting patron complaints at public meetings eventually will end up in court.

Doug Bonney, legal director emeritus for ACLU Kansas, said if barring complaints about school board members, the superintendent or employees is common, that doesn’t make it right.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Tuesday suggested the Legislature let the public have a say on the state’s constitutional duty to pay for public education, but he steered clear of criticizing the Kansas Supreme Court’s rulings on the topic.

Pete Souza / Official White House Photo

Given the importance of the American presidency, it's no surprise photos of the commander-in-chief tend to become iconic. Today, veteran White House correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh explains what makes the White House photographer role so influential, and why he thinks Pres. Trump is missing an opportunity with his chief image-maker. Then, we hear from two leaders in the Missouri Statehouse, Democrat Rep.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers are facing an even tighter deadline to pass a new school finance law this session, after an attorney for the state encouraged them to finish their work on the topic less than two months into the coming 2018 legislative session.

Asked Monday by lawmakers what legal staff need to help make the state’s case, Arthur Chalmers urged them to aim for the start of March for handing off a new school finance bill rather than sometime closer to the date the Kansas Supreme Court set for filing the state’s arguments.

Pexels / Pixabay-CC

Why is school funding a constant debate in the Sunflower State? Today, we look at how the Kansas Constitution defines the government's responsibility concerning education. Then, we review the greatest podcasts of 2017 — just in time for emergency holiday downloading.

Guests:

With the task of going through a state Senate confirmation process approaching, Gov. Eric Greitens’ picks to the Missouri State Board of Education successfully sped up the process of finding an education commissioner over the objections of the board’s president.

The governor’s five nominees outflanked three other board members during a teleconference Thursday to open and close the application process for a new education commissioner before an early January meeting. The board fired Commissioner Margie Vandeven Dec. 1 over objections of lawmakers from both sides as well as leaders and supporters of traditional school districts.

Courtesy Photo

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer continues to shape top levels of Kansas government amid anticipation that the U.S. Senate may soon confirm Gov. Sam Brownback for an ambassadorship at the State Department.

Although Colyer made the selection, Brownback — who may have just weeks left as governor — issued a news release Tuesday announcing that former Kansas education commissioner Diane DeBacker will serve as education liaison and adviser to the Governor’s Office. 

Missouri S&T

Missouri S&T senior Dajae Williams is helping other students learn a complex math equation through rap.

In a YouTube video uploaded on the Rolla campus’ official channel, Williams mixes her passion for music and numbers into a track explaining the quadratic formula:

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers began groundwork Monday for their response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s order to fix school finance by this spring. The same day, a Hiawatha senator announced he will seek to curb the court’s powers through a constitutional amendment.

Teeman
Courtesy of Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

On Thursday, Raytown resident Eric Teeman was best known as a former alderman best known for trying to get Walmart declared a public nuisance.

A day later, Teeman found himself on the Missouri Board of Education, casting the deciding vote that ousted state education commissioner Margie Vandeven.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens got his wish to install a new education chief Friday after enough of his appointees to the state's board of education voted to remove commissioner Margie Vandeven.

The Missouri State Board of Education voted 5-3 to oust Vandeven, according to board member Mike Jones, from St. Louis. It was the second vote on Vandeven’s status in the past couple of weeks.

Missouri’s education commissioner could soon be out of the job after a State Board of Education member resigned — and a judge refused to reinstall a Joplin pastor to his slot.

Claudia Oñate Greim resigned from the state board on Thursday night, less than a day before members are slated to meet. Greim was the only person who Gov. Eric Greitens appointed who voted earlier this month against firing Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven.

CCAAL Inc.

For an artist, one year is plenty of time to develop new techniques and mature. Today, we check in on local artist Rodolfo Marron, who, after two residencies in New York, has returned to Kansas City with a new exhibit. Then, learn about Liberty's African-American heritage from the group dedicated to documenting and preserving its history.

Guests:

Josh Harbour / Garden City Telegram

Children who come from low-income families, have disabilities, aren’t white or don’t speak English at home appear to be disproportionately paying the price of Kansas’ teacher shortage, according to an analysis by the Kansas News Service.

Particularly affected are Liberal, Garden City and Dodge City — southwest Kansas towns where most of the students come from low-income families and more than half face the added challenge of building math, literacy and other skills while acquiring English as a second language.

Scraps KC Executive Director Brenda Mott with Cracker, a homeless volunteer.
Tom Taylor / KCUR 89.3

Scraps KC is a place to let go of your unwanted materials, inspire creativity and a refuge for the homeless from the streets.

Down in Kansas City's West Bottoms, Scraps has been open for 13 months. Executive Director Brenda Mott calls it a creative reuse center. It's like a thrift store targeted at crafters.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. with governor's comments —

Missouri’s commissioner of education survived a rare move to oust her by appointees of Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

The State Board of Education, though stacked with appointees by Greitens, did not vote in favor of firing Margie Vandeven in a closed-door meeting Tuesday. The board tied 4-4.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Today, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the latest data on the state's public schools, so we ask Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell to explain where his district did well and what areas still need improvement. Then, this summer, Kansas City, Missouri, got a new chief of police, a 29-year veteran of the force.

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