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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.”

Families living in the Kansas City Public Schools district have more school options than ever before.  Is school choice improving education for all? A special broadcast of a live forum about this issue.

Seg. 1: Gifted Education. Seg. 2: Mark Bittman

May 15, 2018

Segment 1: The ins and outs of gifted education.

 What does "gifted student" really mean? We learn about the challenges, benefits and pitfalls of keeping fast learners engaged.

  • Carmen Hubbard, gifted resource teacher, Kansas City Public Schools
  • Rita Barger, professor, UMKC School of Education

Segment 2, beginning at 25:59: cookbook author and journalist Mark Bittman shares tips on grilling.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A state-mandated redistricting of the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors could result in a complete turnover of seats next spring, injecting uncertainty during a period of relative stability for the district.

Most Missouri school boards have seven members, and a 2013 law requires the nine-member KCPS board to eliminate one sub-district and one at-large seat by April 2019. Because all seven seats will be open at the same time, it’s possible voters will install an all-new board.

Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library

Most cities have a school system. Kansas City has a system of schools.

It’s an important distinction in a metro bisected by a state line, in a city with dozens of charters, in a school district state lawmakers intentionally kept small.  This is a place where the quality of education often depends on parents’ ability to navigate a frustratingly complex system.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

It’s a common refrain in career and technical education: school must prepare students for jobs that haven’t been invented yet.

To do that, vocational training centers are undergoing high-tech transformations, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Lee’s Summit. The gleaming, $64 million Missouri Innovation Campus that opened last fall has been hailed as a game changer for accelerating the time it takes for a four-year degree after high school.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s most vulnerable students often fall behind when their families move often. And when the kids don’t meet the state’s expectations on standardized tests, their school district gets dinged. That makes it hard for districts with a lot of student turnover to improve their standing.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City-area students joined their peers from across the country on Friday, rallying to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre and pay tribute to other victims of mass shootings.

Students left their schools and made their way to a rally in Midtown's Hyde Park, where students from 10 high schools organized the rally to coincide with the walkouts. It attracted about 150 people. Although that fell short of their goal of 500, the teen organizers said they were glad they got to connect with students from other schools.

Segment 1: A school secretary is helping immigrants make plans in case of deportation.

For undocumented parents with kids who are U.S. citizens, the risk of having your family separated by deportation is real. Meet the elementary school employee who has stepped into the lives of kids whose parents could be deported.

 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

When Paloma Ramos dropped out of school in 2014, she was already a year behind her classmates at Southwest Early College Campus.

Ramos had a plan, though. She would take online classes through the Missouri Options Program, catch up with her peers and graduate within six months. Only that didn’t end up happening. 

Tim Lair / Tim Lair Photography

Much of Kansas City’s economic development over the past few decades is thanks, in part, to tax breaks given to developers by the city.

 

The shops at Zona Rosa and Briarcliff in the Northland, the Power and Light District and Crossroads Arts District downtown, and the massive Cerner development in south Kansas City, just to name a few, all benefit from tax abatements.

 

But developers may have a tougher time getting those breaks under a bill making its way through the Missouri legislature.

Labudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library/UMKC

It started with high school students.

On Tuesday, April 9, 1968, five days after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, and the day of his funeral, the Kansas City, Kansas school district canceled classes.

But in Kansas City, Missouri, the school board and police department felt it would be safer to have students in class and off the streets.

Michael Ali was a student at the mostly-black Central High School.

Public Domain / Pixabay-CC

Perfectionism, bullying, depression and social media are a few of the stressors teens constantly face in today's society. As the number of teen suicides in Kansas City reach record levels, we speak with school councilors and health experts to learn why rates are climbing in the metro and how to help prevent suicides.

But first, a discussion on undeveloped land in suburban areas. What happens when the desire to turn unused land into roads and schools collides with the desire to keep things natural?

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 6:10 p.m. with comments from the school district.

Kansas City Public Schools leaders are open to the possibility of reopening Southwest High in partnership with a community coalition that’s been campaigning for months in the Brookside and Waldo neighborhoods.

“To me, what’s going to get support in that neighborhood is a middle school that could grow into a high school with a signature component,” Superintendent Mark Bedell said Monday in a South Zone School committee meeting of the KCPS Board of Education.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

It took Sandra Allen a few years but when she finally read the 60-page autobiographical manuscript her paranoid schizophrenic uncle Bob sent her, she found a lens into his creative, curious and sometimes discombobulating mind. Today, Allen reflects on what her uncle's life reveals about mental health in America.

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.

Mike Mozart / Flickr-CC

Today, we meet two high school students from Kansas City's Central Academy of Excellence who are using art to tell stories about gun violence. 

Plus, find out how communities, both rural and urban, are affected by the expansion of dollar stores such as Dollar General.

Guests:

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

"Where are the brave ones?" 

Academic coach Charlette Wafer looks out across an auditorium of students, administrators and community members at Central Academy of Excellence. She's reciting a poem. 

"Where are the brave ones? The ones who don't use guns to solve problems. The ones who are mentors and provide support before things get started. The ones who aren't afraid to snitch. The ones who are brave enough to stitch ... Our wounds, our community, our families, our city back together. Where are the brave ones?"

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ stop at a tiny private school in Kansas City’s Waldo neighborhood earlier this year became a flashpoint in a national conversation about transgender rights.

The education department’s rollback of Obama-era protections for transgender students quickly overshadowed DeVos’ purported reasons for visiting Kansas City Academy – an innovative fine arts curriculum and farm-to-table culinary program.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Gingerbread houses crafted by Kansas City Public Schools culinary arts students are on their way to Union Station, where they’ll be on display until Christmas.

“They make some amazing things,” says Rashawn Caruthers, director of Career and Technical Education for KCPS. “One year they made SpongeBob’s house. It’s not just your traditional gingerbread house.”

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

“Let’s hear what you've got,” Nathan Louis Jackson says to Roben Pope, a junior at Central Academy of Excellence in Kansas City, Missouri.

Jackson rests his elbows on the table so he’s at the same level as Pope, one of a dozen students in a special creative writing class here. He’s relaxed and informal.

“Doesn’t matter how much," he says. "Got just a few lines, got an idea? Let’s just hear whatever there is.”

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.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools scored fewer points than it did last year under Missouri’s statewide accountability system but stayed solidly in the provisionally accredited range, according to data released Wednesday by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Despite several unsuccessful attempts to repeal Obamacare outright, Pres. Donald Trump has made substantial changes in how the healthcare exchange works. Today, we discuss those changes, and how they're affecting folks who depend on the Affordable Care Act. Then, the City School Fair wants to make Kansas City, Missouri parents aware of all the possibilities for K-12 education that don't require moving to the suburbs.

Lexi Churchill / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Public Schools will reopen Lincoln Middle to relieve overcrowding at the adjacent high school and offer a rigorous college preparatory program to more students.

“Just like any other competitive superintendent, I don’t want to lose on my first big decision, so I’m extremely happy about the board approving our recommendation to reopen Lincoln Middle School,” Superintendent Mark Bedell, now in his second year with the district, said after the board of directors approved his administration’s plan to reopen Lincoln Middle for the 2019-20 school year.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Fifteen years ago, the vast majority of young couples buying homes in Brookside and Waldo had no intention of staying in the central city once they started families.

“Maybe they were just married and didn’t have any kids, but they planned to eventually,” says Mary Hutchison, real estate agent. “When they had one child, maybe two, they automatically decided to hop over to Kansas to get their kids in the public school system there.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors appears poised to reopen Lincoln Middle School, relieving overcrowding at the elite Lincoln College Preparatory Academy and reversing an unpopular decision made during rightsizing.

Many news outlets report that last weekend's shooting in Las Vegas is one of the deadliest in modern U.S. history. We take a moment to consider our country's history of mass casualties, and what constitutes as a "mass shooting" by definition.

Plus, how active shooter training in school is changing for kids as gun violence is on the rise.

Guests: 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Usually education officials talk about the achievement gap – the stubborn, persistent disparities that keep students of color from catching up to their white peers.

But in socioeconomically disadvantaged districts like Kansas City Public Schools, there’s also a mentoring gap. An estimated one in three young people reach the age of 19 without having a mentor to serve as a positive adult role model.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Two prominent leaders in Kansas City called on Congress today to pass legislation that would continue to protect from deportation those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, or DACA. 

Ana Jimenez, a graduate student at the University of Kansas, says her parents brought her to America when she was just ten and sacrificed everything so she could go to college. DACA allowed her to get a social security number and a drivers license.

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