education

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.

Teachers and public education take a beating at the hands of some politicians.

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 kansasteachingjobs.com

"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.

Guests:

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.

Bigstock

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.

Guests:

Epic Summer

Jun 16, 2015

If summertime means being out of school, think again. Crestview Elementary is one of two schools in the metro experimenting with a year-long schedule. So we attempt to redefine summer, with great literature set amid sweltering summer heat and a roadtrip in search of a frozen dessert called "pineapple whip."

Guests:

Boston Public Library/Flickr -- CC

Recently, the superintendents of the Kansas City Public Schools and the Blue Valley School District announced that they're leaving their posts. What does that mean to their school districts? We explore the role of the school superintendent.

Teachers Say Missouri Has 'Too Much' Testing

Jun 1, 2015

A new survey of teachers in Missouri shows, by and large, educators in the state still believe there is “too much” standardized testing of their students.

The Missouri State Teachers’ Association, which counts more than 45,000 teachers on its rolls, recently asked its members to take the organization’s first-ever survey specifically devoted to teachers’ experiences giving standardized tests.

“We wanted to give our teachers an outlet to voice their feelings and frustrations,” MSTA spokesperson Todd Fuller said.

Blue Valley School District

One of the largest school districts on the Kansas side of the metro will be searching for a new superintendent.

The Blue Valley School District, with more than 22,000 students and 1,800 teachers, says Dr. Tom Trigg is the sole finalist for the superintendent's job in the Highland Park School District in suburban Dallas.

Trigg has been with the district for 19 years and took the top job in 2004.

"We have been fortunate to have a visionary leader who wants all students to follow their dreams,” Pam Robinson, Blue Valley Board of Education president said in a statement.

Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library

Between the world wars, as new subdivisions filled out the map of Kansas City, educators built schools to keep up with the growing and moving population. Two new high schools – Southwest and Southeast – would anchor what was then the southern end of Kansas City. In the minds of students, each would create its own version of the mythical Camelot.

How much is a good teacher worth? Around $50 trillion by 2090, according to Eric Hanushek's calculations. On this edition of Up To Date, we discuss the economic value of quality teaching and the radical steps Hanushek proposes to achieve that goal.

Guests:

Cristopher Crance / Burns &McDonnell

When you were a kid, did you ever dream of becoming an astronaut? Some area students are taking the first steps. Grade-schoolers at Resurrection Catholic School in Kansas City, Kan. and Prairie Fire Upper Elementary in Independence are creating experiments to send into near space in a big weather balloon.

Guests:

In order to become a naturalized citizen, immigrants must pass a basic U.S. civics test. Some Missouri lawmakers are pushing for the state to adopt education policies that would require high schoolers to pass the same test to graduate. On this edition of Up To Date, Steve Kraske talks with two lawmakers supporting this requirement, and quizzes listeners with questions from the U.S. Citizenship Civics Test.

Guests:

When it comes to internet crime, criminals are far ahead of law enforcement and the general public. As more and more hacks make headlines, we talk about our vulnerability as individuals and how to protect ourselves from a cyber attack.

When it comes to strategies of how to deal with a shooter in the building, the only options teachers used to have were locking the doors or evacuating. These days schools have another choice when dealing with an active shooter...fighting back. A new active shooter simulation program from the Missouri Center for Education Safety gives teachers a hands-on experience in thwarting a potential attacker. 

Guests 

According to a study done by the University of California-Los Angeles’ Civil Rights Project, Missouri Public Schools rank #1 for the highest suspension of black elementary school students. Missouri’s gap between suspension rates of black and white elementary students also is the nation’s largest. 
  One study found that students suspended or expelled for a discretionary violation are nearly three times more likely to be in contact with the juvenile justice system the following year.

Southeast Kansas Education Service Center photo

For more than 20 years, Kansas secondary students have taken a survey to track alcohol and drug abuse. But a new law requiring parents to give written permission to allow their children to take the survey is affecting the survey data, and those who use it say it could be more challenging to obtain funds for prevention efforts.

The House Social Services Budget Committee changed its mind Wednesday, voting to shelve an earlier recommendation that could have led to the Parents as Teachers program being cut from the state budget.

“We’re going to have another hearing,” said Rep. Will Carpenter, a Republican from El Dorado and chairman of the committee.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A bill in the Kansas Senate would reduce the amount of state aid to most school districts in Kansas in the current fiscal year.

The measure is what educators in Kansas feared the most — a bill that would force districts to cut their budgets before the current fiscal year ends in July.

The measure would cut state aid for Local Option Budgets, that portion of school budgets raised through local property tax.

The state provides money to help equalize those taxes between wealthy and low-income districts.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

How do you get fifth and sixth graders to see a connection between what they're doing in school and their future careers?

Talk to them about Walt Disney.

"As a sixth grader, he was sketching mice and ducks in his art class," Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon told students during an assembly at Mill Creek Upper Elementary in Belton Friday.

The school is one of 34 across Missouri that's teaching elementary school students about math and science through Project Lead the Way, which Nixon hopes will inspire them to pursue those fields as adults. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Update: Jan. 22, 2:25 pm

The St. Joseph School District has confirmed that Superintendent Fred Czerwonka and Chief Operating Officer Rick Hartigan are now on administrative leave.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Officials in the St. Joseph School District have been nervously waiting for months for a report from the Missouri State Auditor.

KCUR has learned that the report is back and the board will discuss it Tuesday in executive session.

The Missouri State Auditor moved a five-member team into district headquarters last Spring after it was revealed that the new St. Joseph school superintendent, Dr. Fred Cerwonka, handed out $5,000 stipends to 54 administrators without seeking board approval.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Central Standard is following three high school seniors through the trials and triumphs leading up to graduation. Catch up with Ashwanth Samuel, Harold Burgos and Sache Hawkins on internships, waiting to hear back from colleges, career dreams, school lunch, juggling coursework with outside interests, senior-itis, and what grown-ups don't know about high school today. Plus, one of these seniors surprised us with an early graduation in December.

Lamar Republican Sen. Ed Emery wants to give Missouri schools a report card – he's filed legislation to create an A-F letter grade system similar to those enacted in other states.

"I think if we can do this in Missouri, we'll have better informed parents and more involved parents, and as a result, we'll be moving toward an excellence in education that we all want," Emery said.

Florida was the first state to issue A-F letter grades to schools a decade ago under former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. Now, about a dozen states have similar systems in place.

Finalists For Missouri Education Commissioner

Dec 11, 2014
dese.mo.gov

The slate of candidates to replace Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro has been narrowed to five finalists. On this edition of Up to Date, we examine what the selection committee is looking for in the candidates, what local school districts would like to see in their next commissioner, and who are the frontrunners. 

Guests:

Pages