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No restricting free speech, no matter the perspective. A bill backed by Republican lawmakers intends to send that message to college campuses in Kansas.

The Campus Free Speech Protection Act would insist that universities make clear that all of their outdoor spaces, not just “free speech zones,” embrace political outlooks and events regardless of how they fit with trends in academic thought.

Segment 1: Why the face of vocational tech education is changing.

When you think of career education classes for high schoolers, what comes to mind? Maybe welding or auto shop? But with today's changing workforce, many students are also preparing for industry fields like coding and biomedical technology. Find out how a school in Lee's Summit is adjusting to meet this need.

University of Kansas

Kansas could struggle to stop college students from taking their money to other Midwestern states if it continues to charge higher tuition.

Barbara Washington
Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

Last November, Rep. Barbara Anne Washington became the newest legislator to represent Kansas City in the Missouri General Assembly. An attorney and former journalist, she has long been engaged with politics, but nothing could have prepared her for the onslaught of legislating, which she says is a full-time job, not to mention the political turmoil of her first month in office.

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A booming stock market last year meant big gains for endowments at Kansas colleges and universities.

But declines in the long-term performance of endowments and changes to the tax code make many financial officers nervous.

file photo / Kansas State University

A pay gap that left Kansas professors trailing their peers for more than a decade grew wider last year.

A new report from the Kansas Board of Regents confirmed that the state pays its academics less than the public colleges and universities they compete against.

“We’re not surprised because we’ve been at the bottom for so long,” said Brian Lindshield, the faculty senate president at Kansas State University.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri families can now use an existing college savings program to get a tax break on private school tuition and other K-12 education expenses, Treasurer Eric Schmitt announced this week.

An amendment added at the last minute to the massive tax overhaul Congress passed in December allows participants in state 529 college savings programs to spend up to $10,000 annually to cover tuition expenses at public, private and religious schools.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

University of Kansas film professor Kevin Willmott made national headlines last fall for wearing a bullet-proof vest in protest of a new state law allowing concealed weapons on campuses. He said he’d wear the vest until the law changed.

And with start of the spring semester this week, Willmott is keeping that promise.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

When 18-year-old Columba Herrera walks across the graduation stage this May, she’ll leave Topeka Public Schools with two things — a high school diploma and the beginnings of her college transcript.

Herrera will have a semester’s worth of college credit — courses offered at Topeka West High School in conjunction with Washburn University.

Each freshman-level college class that the aspiring computer science major knocks out of the way while in high school gets her closer to her goal.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City is getting a high-tech $32 million facility to help students compete in a global economy.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved construction of the computer science building, which will be adjacent to Flarsheim Hall, earlier this month. It will be built with a combination of state funds and private donations, including a $6 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation.

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

Today, Stuart Swetland is the president of Donnelly College, which U.S. News & World Report recently recognized as the most diverse college in the Midwest. But in 1985, when TWA Flight 847 was hijacked, he was a Navy officer who was called to participate in a rescue mission with grim chances for survival. Hear his story.

Guest:

  • Stuart Swetland, President, Donnelly College

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Johnson County Community College just received the biggest financial gift in its history and plans to use the money to expand its technical education.

JCCC says it received a $10 million donation from the Overland Park-based Sunderland Foundation. It's part of a $102 million project that will add two buildings to campus.

A banner displayed in the middle of the Kansas State University campus. K-State has been rated among the 25 campuses for LGBT students in the country.
Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

In the ongoing struggle on college campuses for LGBT equality and acceptance, Kansas State University is an unexpected leader.

K-State is best known for agriculture and football.

On a gorgeous fall day in Manhattan, with the K-State marching band entertaining tailgaters, many fans were surprised to learn that their school was ranked in the 25 campuses for LGBT friendliness by CampusPride.org.

Tensions have been rising on college campuses over freedom of speech issues. From pressure to cancel controversial speakers to debates about safe spaces, what does free speech mean on campus?

Plus, a city planner shares the story of when his dad, a migrant farmworker, lost his job, and the KCK social worker who changed their lives.

Guests:

file photo / Kansas State University

Kansas State University is scaling back this year’s budget by millions of dollars after about 1,000 fewer students enrolled this fall compared to the previous year, creating a budget crunch.

What does the college campus of the future look like? An architect from a local firm sees some radically different changes.

Then: a recent article in The Kansas City Star says that the social scene here isn't inclusive of people of color. We'll hear how some young African-Americans don't feel like there's a place for them in the metro ... and how it's driving them to move elsewhere.

Guests:

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.

Donnelly College / Facebook

Faculty, staff and students at Donnelly College, a small, private Catholic college in Kansas City, Kansas, are celebrating their ranking this week by U.S. News and World Report as the most ethnically diverse college in the Midwest.

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.

Yassie / Wikimedia Commons

As Mun Choi approaches six months on the job as president of the University of Missouri System, the challenges keep coming.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' state budget for fiscal year 2017 included a $37 million cut to the university system and the potential for $57 million more in permanent cuts in 2018.

Metropolitan Community College / Twitter

Kansas City's Metropolitan Community College, like its bigger, four-year counterparts in Missouri, is hoping alternative funding may allow the school to handle state budget cuts without raising tuition or laying off staff. 

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

A new math class being piloted by dozens of high schools across Kansas seeks to save students stress, time and money when they reach college.

Currently, about one-third of students who continue to two- and four-year colleges in Kansas don’t score high enough on placement tests to enroll directly in college algebra, a class most need in order to graduate.

Instead, they work their way up through remedial classes, a process that can take multiple semesters.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

From the mainstreaming of social media to "fake news" indictments from the chief executive, the journalism industry is in the midst of sweeping transformation. Today, the dean of the Missouri School of Journalism explains how his school teaches new reporters to adapt to the current and future media environments.

CAROLINA HIDALGO / ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Governor Eric Greitens had a busy afternoon last Friday, June 30. He signed a major change to employment law, making it much harder for a fired employee to prove a discrimination case. He vetoed a bipartisan compromise that would have preserved a tax credit for low-income seniors and disabled people. And he signed the state budget—while also withholding more than $250 million in spending. Host Brian Ellison talks with KCUR's Kyle Palmer to catch you up on the political news of the weekend and give you an update on what might come next out of Missouri's Capitol.

University of Kansas

After years of anticipation, and a final round of heated debate in the state legislature, "No Guns" signs finally came down at Kansas college campuses Saturday. The state's new so-called "campus carry" law went into effect July 1.

Courtesy Pratt Community College

Students who complete an associate’s degree at Pratt Community College that prepares them to become electrical linemen earn just under $100,000 annually five years after graduation, according to a massive database now available online as an interactive tool. 

That is the fastest route to such high earnings among the more than 1,000 degree programs at Kansas’ 32 public two-year and four-year colleges and universities, a fact that doesn’t surprise the program’s director, David Campbell.

What do Kansas Citians expect from higher education? A job that pays well? The chance to learn for the sake of learning ... or something else?

As the cost of college goes up, saddling graduates with debt, we explore the point of higher education ... and whether its concepts are in touch with today's reality.

Guests:

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

The cost of higher education in Kansas continued to swell this week, carrying on a long-running trend in which universities rely increasingly on tuition and fees to operate.

This fall, a full-time semester at the University of Kansas will cost nearly $2,000 more than a decade earlier. The increase at Kansas State University has been similar.

Also over the last decade, the state’s spending per student at Kansas Board of Regents universities has slid.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

There are two college tuition stories in Kansas right now.

The first is a good news story. Johnson County Community College says it will hold the line on tuition. The JCCC Board of Trustees voted last month to maintain the current cost for students. A credit hour is $93 for Johnson County residents and $110 for all other Kansas residents.

“JCCC is a place where every student has the opportunity for success.  By not raising tuition, that opportunity for success is now more achievable for more students,” president Joe Sopcich said in a statement.

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