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Education

KCUR 89.3 covers education issues across the Kansas City region and in Kansas and Missouri. 

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Missouri charter schools will now be able to give preference to poor or struggling students in its lottery admissions system.

That change was part of an omnibus education bill signed into law last week by Gov. Mike Parson. Some charter schools in St. Louis have struggled to maintain their mission as they increased in popularity and surrounding neighborhoods gentrified.

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Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James rolled out the beginning of his “Pre-K for KC” campaign that could help make high quality early childhood education more affordable for local children.

The initiative calls for funding the program with a three-eighths cent sales tax increase for Kansas City, Missouri. On Tuesday, James announced the beginning of a petition process to collect signatures to get the proposed tax on the November ballot.

Union County Public Schools

The new Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools district superintendent says he wants to increase graduation rates and make sure every student is reading at grade level by second grade.

But Charles Foust will have to make those gains with a budget that the Kansas Supreme Court found doesn’t live up to the “adequate” standard set in the state constitution.

Union County Public Schools

The Kansas City, Kansas school board chose Charles Foust as the district’s next superintendent in a  meeting Tuesday night.

The 5-2 vote to select Foust elicited gasps and a loud boo from an audience of around 100 people.

Brandi Thorpe

Brandi Thorpe says her 10-year-old son D’Juan Franklin is a loving, intelligent child, who loves playing football and baseball. He's also autistic.

When Thorpe transferred him to the New Beginnings School in the Lansing, Kansas, district — a school dedicated to special education — she was hopeful that her son would get the support he needed. And, he did, up until the morning of January 17, 2017.

On Monday, the Kansas Supreme Court issued a ruling that effectively said the state’s public schools could open in the fall. Yet the same decision left local district officials on Tuesday and beyond with continued, long-term uncertainty.

The high court’s decision could lead to continued fighting over school funding and the topic will likely serve as political fodder in state elections.

Tuition at public universities in Kansas is going up. School officials blame the increase on rising costs and years of dwindling state funding alongside flat enrollment.

The hikes all fall below the 3.1 percent average increase for state universities across the nation last year. Still, most Kansas public universities received increases above the nation’s inflation rate of about 2 percent.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

(This story has been updated.)

Kansas continues to underfund its schools, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Monday — a decision that could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars more over the next four years.

But because the Legislature agreed to significant hikes in funding this spring, the justices gave it another year to add to the amount it sends to local school districts.

The high court could have forced lawmakers back to Topeka in coming weeks to fix the problem or face school closures, something the state’s lawyers begged it not to do.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Asha Moore just finished her ninth year teaching. She loves being an educator, but she isn’t returning to the classroom in the fall. Instead, she’ll be taking over the dean of students job at the Academy for Integrated Arts, a Kansas City charter school focused on the arts. 

Moore had been interested in taking on a leadership role for a while. She received her master’s degree five years ago, but she didn’t feel ready until last year, when her principal started in a new program, KC PLUS, or Pathway to Leadership in Urban Schools.

New Kansas City Public Schools Boundary Map Draws Criticism

Jun 20, 2018
Aviva Okeson-Haberman / 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools isn’t getting the new district boundary map it endorsed.

On Wednesday, the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners said it would instead go with a new boundry map drawn by consultants.

The school district has been in the process of complying with a state law that requires the nine-member board to eliminate one subdistrict and one at-large seat by next April.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Ahead of a state-mandated redistricting of school board seats, the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education has put forth its own map suggesting how the boundaries should be drawn.

The proposed map builds on the work of three consultants hired by the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners and incorporates community feedback, KCPS Board of Education Chair Melissa Robinson wrote in a letter to commissioners.

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Kansas City, Missouri, residents could be asked to vote on a sales tax increase in November to help make early childhood education more affordable for area children.

Mayor Sly James is working with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce on a plan that would offset pre-K costs for families of eligible 4-year-olds. A three-eighths of a cent sales tax would raise more than $30 million a year, making early childhood education more accessible in Kansas City, where the need for these services surpasses their availability.

The roster on the Missouri State Board of Education is deep enough to hold a meeting for the first time since December.

Gov. Mike Parson appointed two people to the board Tuesday morning, ending six months of paralysis in which the school board — short of a quorum — was unable to vote or advance education policy in the state.

More Sites In Kansas Offering Free Meals To Kids This Summer

Jun 12, 2018
photo of Elizabeth Quinn
Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Michael Kraft likes to joke that he’s under pressure to come to the summer lunch program at Johnson County Library, Central Resource.

Last year, his kids won a prize — a bag full of goodies like stickers, markers and notepads — for eating the most lunches during their summer lunch program.

His two girls have their sights set on winning again. He takes his children about three to four times a week. Today’s menu was a cheese stick with marinara sauce, wheat crackers, applesauce and milk. Kids could also get an apple.

Teacher in front of students gathered on floor. Elementary students raise their hands.
Sophia Tulp / KCUR 89.3

Students at Winnwood Elementary started a new school year with 97 degree heat and indoor recess — just one small adjustment schools make when the school year starts in June.  

Monday marked the beginning of the 2018-19 school year for Winnwood and Crestview Elementary, two North Kansas City schools that recently made the switch to a year-round schedule. By adding over a month to their academic calendars, educators were trying combat a phenomenon known as “summer slide” — the tendency to forget the material learned during the school year over the break.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Superintendent Cynthia Lane attributes her three decade career in education to a frog.

Lane went to college to be a clinical psychologist but a required biology class asked her to insert a needle into a frog’s brain.

“It was a live animal that we were going to do an experiment on to see reactions,” Lane says. “I could not do that. So I left class, went down the hall and said, ‘I need to change my major.’”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

There were 307 students enrolled at Pitcher Elementary on the last day of school, but that number doesn’t tell the whole story.

Pitcher is about as far east as a school can be and still be in the Kansas City Public Schools – out by the stadiums, mere blocks from the Independence and Raytown districts. Kids come and go constantly as their families’ circumstances change.

Kansas has some of the highest education achievement standards in the country, but students are struggling to reach that high bar.

The new report from the National Center For Education Statistics standardized state proficiency assessments for math and reading in 2015. For eighth grade, Kansas had the highest benchmark for proficiency in both reading and math out of the states evaluated.

The University of Kansas is offering a three-year path to a bachelor’s degree.

The “Degree In Three” program is a partnership between KU, six school districts and three community colleges. Students will begin earning college credit in high school. They will then be able to complete an associate’s degree in one year at one of the partnering community colleges and finish their final two years at KU.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Updated at 4:20 p.m. Thursday with response from the district.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas is suing the Shawnee Mission School District for allegedly violating students' free speech rights.

Students complained in April after administrators in several schools allegedly censored students during the nationwide walkouts protesting gun violence. Among other incidents, students said a Hocker Grove principal  pushed a student for mentioning school shootings in a speech and an administrator at Shawnee Mission North confiscated a student journalist's camera.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Students with disabilities often miss out on opportunities their peers take for granted, like learning a foreign language.

That's why Shawnee Mission West French teacher Katie Bogart works hard to accommodate all different kinds of learners in her classroom.

“They struggle more with some of the grammar that we do, a lot of the written work,” Bogart says. “That can be a little bit more challenging.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s first single-gender public school has a sponsor.

The Missouri Charter Public School Commission voted to accept Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy’s application Wednesday morning after an evening of public testimony overwhelmingly in support of the school.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who is on the charter school’s board of directors, told the commission most of his staffers are women.

Kansas universities had about 800 more students enrolled this spring than they did last year, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

That’s about a half percent more — essentially flat. But flat is better than the national figure, which saw enrollment across the United States drop about 1.3 percent, or about 231,000 fewer students.

Courtesy Ray Weikal / Kansas City Public Schools

Three schools will get $1.4 million from education nonprofit SchoolSmartKC to improve student performance, Kansas City Public Schools announced Friday.

Principal Dana Carter says she started to cry when she found out on the second-to-last day of school she’d have an additional $600,000 to implement Gladstone Elementary’s strategic plan.

“Literally, tears ran down my face,” Carter says. “It was a very exciting moment. Then when I shared it with our staff, it was screams of joy, everyone applauding.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Friday is the last day of school at DeLaSalle Education Center, a charter high school in Kansas City that primarily enrolls students who haven’t succeeded elsewhere.

It’s also a time of reflection for those who taught them.

At 22, first-year Teach For America corps member Pranav Nanda isn’t that much older than his students. At the start of the school year, Nanda worried students might not respect someone they saw as a peer. But over time, he came to see his age as an advantage.

Orlin Wagner / Associated Press

If districts suing the state get their way, the Kansas Legislature could be back in Topeka within weeks to add another half a billion dollars to school budgets in time for the coming academic year.

The districts hope the Kansas Supreme Court will also tell the state to phase in hundreds of millions beyond that in the years to come.

The University of Kansas fired its athletic director on Monday.

Sheahon Zenger has led KU’s athletic department since 2011. In a letter to the KU community, Chancellor Douglas Girod said KU athletics has failed to make progress in “key areas."

file photo

Public universities in Kansas are proposing tuition hikes significantly lower than some of the larger increases seen in recent years. The schools presented the plans to the Kansas Board of Regents this week.

The increases in tuition and fees for in-state, undergraduate students range from 1.2 percent at Kansas State University to 3 percent at the University of Kansas.

The University of Kansas is being criticized for retaining former Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little at a salary of more than half a million dollars

But the arrangement is far from unusual in Kansas.

Public universities in Kansas saw some of their funding restored as part of the new state budget.

The budget restores $15 million to the Kansas Board of Regents. In fiscal year 2017, state universities spent about $570 million in state funding.  

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