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

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The Olathe School District says students who used anti-LGBT language at a homecoming parade last Thursday will be punished. However, the district suggests the incident at Olathe Northwest High School may not have been as bad as first reported.

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Updated, 3:06 p.m. Monday: St. Teresa’s Academy alumnae, who were outraged after a group of students shared photos of them playing “Jews vs. Nazis” beer pong, say the girls’ apology is insufficient.

The apology came late Sunday evening after classmates allegedly shouted “Nazi” and “racist” at the girls during the Teresian homecoming dance.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The students from St. Teresa’s Academy who posted photos of themselves drinking from cups arranged in the shape of a swastika are bullying the teenage girl who reported them.

That’s according to frustrated classmates who reached out to KCUR to say St. Teresa’s response to alleged anti-Semitism has been wholly inadequate.

Wikimedia -- CC

Alumnae of St. Teresa’s Academy are upset by the school’s lax response to social media posts that show current students posing with a swastika.

According to multiple alumnae who reached out to KCUR, seven students arranged plastic cups in the shape of a swastika while playing beer pong at a weekend party. They then shared photos of themselves with the swastika on Snapchat with the caption, “Girls night!”

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The massive hurricanes Harvey and Irma have people talking about how much, if at all, climate change adds to such storms’ destructiveness.

In a blog post authored by Paul Driessen, the conservative Heartland Institute disputes that global warming is worsening the weather or that it’s human-caused. And, Driessen writes, fossil fuels “bring rescue boats.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

At Kansas City Academy on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made veggie burgers in culinary class and a clay pot in ceramics, but she didn’t explain how a private liberal arts school known for its progressive values landed on her radar.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos touted the importance of making higher education accessible Thursday while on a whirlwind tour of vocational classrooms at Johnson County Community College.

The highly orchestrated two-hour visit included stops to view spaces used for teaching automotive, electrical, welding, nursing and culinary programs.

The stop was part of a six-state tour in which DeVos has traveled to public and private schools, highlighting themes ranging from services for children with autism to Native American education.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Despite the ongoing fight over how much Kansas should spend on schools, the Legislature did at least one thing this year that almost all educators were pleased with: For the first time, it included all-day kindergarten in the school funding formula.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in the Midwest this week on a hastily-planned “Rethink Schools” tour that’s left Kansas and Missouri school leaders scrambling.

To say the call Kansas City Academy received the Friday before Labor Day was unexpected would be an understatement.

Someone from DeVos’ staff wanted to know if the education secretary could visit the tiny private school in Kansas City, Missouri, in two weeks’ time. Head of School Kory Gallagher says he was given until 5 p.m. to decide.

It was already 3:55.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas is setting aspirations for much higher math and reading competency among the class of 2030 — today’s kindergartners — in a long-term accountability plan for its public schools.

Kansas officials submitted the accountability blueprint Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Education. It does not include language promoting controversial school choice concepts that Gov. Sam Brownback’s office advocated for, according to staff at the state education department.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

University of Missouri-Kansas City leaders on Monday acknowledged the mixed results of a survey about the atmosphere on campus. 

The majority of UMKC students, faculty and staff rated their campus “comfortable” or “very comfortable” in the most recent climate study.

But 17 percent of those who took the survey last October said they personally had experienced “exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct” because of their ethnicity, age, gender or gender identity.

And 34 percent of respondents said they had seriously considered leaving UMKC.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

As dozens of Kansas school districts spar with the state over funding for public education, the term “Rose standards” has emerged as arcane but critical jargon among lawyers and judges, and surfaced over and over again in court documents.

Though the term has appeared in past school finance lawsuits in Kansas, following a March 2014 Kansas Supreme Court ruling, it is undeniably front and center in the ongoing Gannon v. Kansas wrangling.

City of Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department

Young black students were five times more likely than their white peers to be removed from Kansas City classrooms for disciplinary infractions during the 2015-16 school year.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Tens of millions of dollars in extra state funding that legislators approved this spring amid pressure from an ongoing school finance lawsuit could go toward raising teacher pay.

In recent weeks, news reports point to school boards throughout the state adjusting pay this year.

UMKC Marketing & Communications / Flickr -- CC

More cuts may be coming at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

An email Interim Chancellor Barbara Bichelmeyer sent to staff Wednesday suggested that the budget situation was even worse than anticipated. UMKC is already operating with a budgeted deficit of $4.5 million for the fiscal year that began July 1.

“We also are now aware of additional risks that were not contemplated in initial budgeting,” Bichelmeyer wrote. “Most importantly, we still will need to make selected strategic investments that will require reallocations from within our existing budgets.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Talking to fourth graders about saving money for college is very different than talking to their parents, Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt found out Tuesday.

“How do you get money?” asked a student at Crestview Elementary, the first stop on a statewide tour to promote 529 college savings accounts.

When Schmitt replied you get money by working, the girl’s classmate raised his hand to ask, “How much do you get?”

Adam_Procter400 / Flickr - CC

University of Missouri officials signed an agreement Thursday that will expand financial aid for lower-income students beginning in 2018.

As part of the Missouri Land Grant Compact, Missouri undergraduates who qualify for the federal Pell Grant program will have all tuition and fees covered. In addition, students who are also enrolled in the Honors College will have all room and board covered.

Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said the awards should have a significant impact on the state.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

This summer, Kansas City Public Schools made a significant investment in one of two district-operated Montessori schools in an attempt to address long-standing inequities between the programs.

“Right here in KCPS we have a jewel, but Border Star is the Montessori program everyone knows about,” KaLinda Bass-Barlow, principal at Holliday Montessori, says.

Holliday was built specifically for Montessori education, opening as a magnet school in 1992, back when district officials thought state-of-the-art facilities might convince white families to stay.

Courtesy of Lee's Summit Police Department

Lee's Summit School Resource Officer Thomas Orr Jr. was shot and killed Sunday night at Californos in Westport.

Police say Orr was an innocent bystander to an argument that broke out between two men on the restaurant's back patio.

The 30-year-old officer had been with the Lee's Summit Police Department for two years. He had just started a new job at Campbell Middle School last week, a district spokeswoman confirmed.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

An online news site that says it "holds government and mainstream media accountable" attacked an instructor at Johnson County Community College Thursday, suggesting her six-figure salary was related to her gender and race.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Former Hickman Mills Supt. Dennis Carpenter has started his new job in Lee’s Summit.

Carpenter, whose Twitter handle is @EquitySupt1, has advocated for an accountability system that was fair for poor, high mobility districts.

He says that work isn’t over now that he’s in Lee’s Summit, one of state’s most affluent school districts.

“We've started some of that conversation (in) the last couple of months, realizing that there is a place for equity in the suburban districts,” says Carpenter. “That's something that we're going to work with through the board's priorities.”

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Is high school too early to figure out what career path to follow?

The Olathe School District doesn’t think so.

When the new Olathe West High School opens for all students on Thursday, the district will have a total of 17 specialty academies in its five high schools.

For as long as most people can remember, the main mission of Johnson County schools has been preparing kids for college.

Courtesy of Avila University

Officials at Avila University say they are investigating a swastika drawn on an academic building on the south Kansas City campus. 

University officials say the swastika was written in chalk and was discovered on the outside of Dallavis Hall Monday. An Avila spokesman says the swastika was quickly removed after being found.  

An email alerting faculty and students to the incident called it a “hate crime.”

"This incident is a hate crime. Avila takes incidents like this very seriously and the incident is being investigated," the email read. 

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

The Missouri State Board of Education on Tuesday advanced what’s been characterized as a “skinny” plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Better known as ESSA, the Obama-era reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind Act as the law governing school accountability. Among other things, ESSA outlines how federal Title I dollars should be distributed to schools with large populations of students living in poverty.

Catherine Wheeler / KCUR 89.3

As scientists and observers stake out their spots for next week's eclipse, Northland schools are already in a prime location to share science with their students.

Monday is the fourth day of school for North Kansas City, which lies in the path of totality. The district is using the day to celebrate the eclipse and make it a day to experience science, says NKC science instructional coordinator Jessica Nolin.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

At 8:55 a.m., five minutes before school was supposed to start Monday, the line of parents trying to enroll their kids at Banneker Elementary was out the front door.

“We’re 140 students over our enrollment, which is a good problem to have,” Principal Harrison Neal says, walking a preschooler to her classroom. “We were projected at 333 students. We’re currently at 462.”

Then he’s back on his walkie-talkie to ask how many students are still at breakfast.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools will need community-wide support to improve student achievement – that’s the crux of a strategic plan the Board of Education approved Wednesday night.

Unlike the district’s controversial master plan, which divided the school board and angered parents and teachers before it ultimately passed in 2016, the strategic plan doesn’t change boundaries or close buildings.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Outgoing University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Leo Morton will be leaving earlier than expected, UM System President Mun Choi announced Wednesday.

In May, Morton, who has led UMKC since 2008, announced his intention to retire in spring 2018. But on Tuesday, Morton told Choi he would leave in October. Morton has been offered a job as chief operating officer at Kansas City-based DeBruce Companies.

Courtesy photo / Kansas State Department of Education

Fourteen schools in seven school districts across Kansas will work this year on revamping the way they serve children, with the goal of becoming statewide models for overhauling primary and secondary education.

The education department is branding the effort to re-envision schools as Kansas’ version of “a moon shot,” referring to the U.S. race to put a man on the moon in the 1960s.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Ladarius Long is checking out the new eighth grade area at KIPP Endeavor Academy, the East Side charter school he has attended for the last two years.

“We’re looking real good today,” he says approvingly. “We’ve got more room. We’ve got tables, lockers – ” Ladarius points to the one he wants “ – but anyway, I just like the setup now.”

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