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File photo/Kansas News Service

Kansas teachers have lost their second attempt to get tenure back for thousands of educators through the courts — but say they will continue their battle at the Legislature.

“So this is a disappointment,” teachers union spokesman Marcus Baltzell said of the decision handed down by the Kansas Supreme Court Friday. “But it's just one step."

Friday’s decision from the state’s highest court was unanimous.

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Segment 1: Proposed 3/8th-cent sales tax could expand early childhood education.

In an effort to provide quality education to more of Kansas City's youth, Mayor Sly James has proposed a new sales tax that would fund pre-K schools. While almost everyone can agree access to pre-K education should be expanded, some residents have reservations about where the money to pay for it comes from and how it's collected.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

After complaints arose that administrators allegedly censored students during recent nationwide walkouts, the Shawnee Mission School District announced it will take measures to train district officials on First Amendment rights.

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue the district if it didn't address allegations that administrators restricted students' participation in the April 20 walkouts protesting gun violence.

Paul Sableman / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: Schools in the Shawnee Mission district have been accused of stifling expression during student demonstration.

During last Friday's national school walkout, parents and students at several Shawnee Mission schools reported that administrators attempted to curate and censor student speech. These complaints have spurred an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas. Today, we asked what happened during the demonstrations, and how the school district is responding.

The clock is ticking for the Kansas Legislature to agree on a new school finance formula. One lawmaker in the middle of the debate says while progress is being made, it’s not happening fast enough. On this episode, the story of the legislature’s increasingly frantic efforts to meet the court’s end of the month deadline.

 

In the weeks since the shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school, student activists and others have taken to the streets in an effort to spur policy makers to talk about how we regulate guns. But, is that debate happening here in Kansas?

Segment 1: Is the conversation around guns, schools and violence changing?

Teens in Florida have been galvanized to speak out about mass shootings at American schools. But what is happening here? Have our thoughts shifted about school shootings?

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / KCUR/Kansas News Service

Tenure, as Kansas public school teachers had known it for decades, died at the hands of lawmakers without a hearing in the spring of 2014.

 

No one disputes that.

 

On Wednesday, state and teachers union lawyers went head-to-head before the Kansas Supreme Court over whether the slaying of those long-standing job protections ran afoul of the state and U.S. constitutions.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / KCUR/Kansas News Service

The U.S. Department of Education has thrown its weight behind a Kansas school plan that aims for much higher rates of math and reading proficiency by 2030.

 

Initial feedback from the federal agency on Kansas’ 90-page blueprint for closing achievement gaps had been lackluster, forcing the state to revise it.

File Photo / KCUR

The former legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas thinks a practice among some school boards of restricting patron complaints at public meetings eventually will end up in court.

Doug Bonney, legal director emeritus for ACLU Kansas, said if barring complaints about school board members, the superintendent or employees is common, that doesn’t make it right.

With the task of going through a state Senate confirmation process approaching, Gov. Eric Greitens’ picks to the Missouri State Board of Education successfully sped up the process of finding an education commissioner over the objections of the board’s president.

The governor’s five nominees outflanked three other board members during a teleconference Thursday to open and close the application process for a new education commissioner before an early January meeting. The board fired Commissioner Margie Vandeven Dec. 1 over objections of lawmakers from both sides as well as leaders and supporters of traditional school districts.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Shawnee Mission school board is going to have a very different look next year.

All three reform candidates won Tuesday night, replacing three veteran board members.

That now gives reformers a 4-3 edge on the board.

One of the reform leaders is at-large board member Brad Stratton who wasn’t on the ballot last night.

"The voters in the Shawnee Mission District came out and said loud and clear that they'd like some new voices at the board table," he says.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri schools continue to dole out harsher punishments to black students – and in particular, black students with disabilities – for disciplinary infractions than their white peers receive, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union on what’s been dubbed the school-to-prison pipeline.

Pixabay - CC

As summer wanes, students and teachers across all metro districts are getting ready for a new school year, but the challenges faced by teachers in urban settings can differ greatly from their suburban colleagues. Today, we speak with educators from both sides of the state line to learn about the rigors and rewards of teaching in the inner-city.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

As some families mobilize to open new high schools in the Kansas City Public School district, district officials are concerned there are already too many

KCUR's Elle Moxley shares her latest education reporting, and local parents answer our questions about what schools they're choosing and why.

Guests:

  • Elle Moxley, KCUR education reporter
  • John Couture, parent
  • Darron Story, parent

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Jacie Hoyt is making waves in the coaching world. At just 29, she's one of the nation's youngest Division I head coaches. Today, she talks about her playing days, coaching influences and vision for UMKC women's basketball.

When it comes to education, things are changing on both sides of State Line. It's hard to keep up with where the good schools are, let alone anticipate where they will be in the future. How are Kansas Citians approaching school decisions?

Guests:

  • Matthew Oates, board of director, Kansas City Public Schools, Sub-District 2
  • Katie Boody​, founder and CEO, The Lean Lab
  • Sam Zeff, KCUR education reporter

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Updated 2:40 p.m. Monday: Oak Park students are being reunited with the parents after an anonymous threat prompted the lockdown and evacuation of the high school.

Between 1,300 and 1,400 students were in the building Monday, according to Jon Bazzano with the Clay County Sheriff's Office. They were bussed to Staley High School, where their parents could pick them up.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 893

On this week's Statehouse Blend Kansas, Sen. Dinah Sykes (R-Lenexa) and Rep. Brett Parker (D-Overland Parker) give us their freshman perspective on Governor Sam Brownback's budget proposal, concealed carry on college campuses, and a possible new school funding formula.

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District will pay Hickman Mills Supt. Dennis Carpenter $235,000 for the 2017-18 school year.

That’s more than Carpenter’s current $185,000 base salary, but it’s substantially less than his predecessor, David McGehee, was making. With a compensation package of $395,000, McGehee was the top paid administrator in the state of Missouri when he resigned last year.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

It only took the Olathe Board of Education about 20 minutes to approve the hiring of a new superintendent for substantially more money than it paid the previous top administrator.

On a unanimous vote, the board hired John Allison, the current superintendent in Wichita, with a base salary of $250,000.

Marlin Berry, who resigned in April, was making $231,263.

Wichita Public Schools

The superintendent from the biggest school district in Kansas is the "sole finalist" for the top job in Olathe Public Schools.

The district says the school board is expected to finalize the appointment of John Allison at its meeting Monday.

Allison has lead the Wichita district since 2009.  Before that, he was superintendent in the Mt. Lebanon School District in Pennsylvania and has been an administrator in Texas and the Shawnee Mission School District.

Dmitry Grigoriev / Flickr - CC

Today, the Ethics Professors take on what's been a prickly issue for Shawnee Mission schools. Should teachers be allowed to wear safety pins in classrooms?

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Shawnee Mission School District board and its superintendent faced a packed room of very unhappy parents and teachers Monday night.

The district has come under fire for strongly suggesting to staff that they refrain from wearing safety pins. The pins are seen by many as a sign to students that they're in a safe place, but some see the pins as a protest of the election of Donald Trump.

Before the meeting even started, board President Sara Goodburn made it very clear: We'll listen to your concerns but we're not changing our minds.

Laura McCallister / Kansas City Public Library

In the hands of musicians like Charlie Christian, Carlos Santana, and Slash, the electric guitar has become a symbol for freedom, rebellion and rock 'n' roll. Then, find out why celebrities like Will Smith and Casey Affleck are taking new interest in the 1955 murder of Emmett Till.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Two weeks ago Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said the state needed a new school funding formula and called on educators to email him their suggestions.

At his Statehouse news conference Brownback offered no specific ideas.

On Thursday, the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) talked about what should be in a new formula next year. But, like the governor, the organization offered few details. KASB did urge everyone to email.

Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

It only took a few minutes for the Kansas State Board of Education to approve $7.2 million in extraordinary needs funding for school districts across the state. The extra money will go to 34 school districts. Three districts didn't get any money.

The six local districts who applied for the additional state aid didn't get all they wanted but still did well.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Kansas Rep. Stephanie Clayton (R-Overland Park) talks about presidential politics, schools, and tax policy.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

  On this week's episode of Statehouse Blend, Kansas Rep. Stephanie Clayton (R-Overland Park) talks about presidential politics, schools, and tax policy.

Guests:

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A special session focused on solving Kansas' nettlesome school funding problem begins Thursday. At stake: school itself. The Kansas Supreme Court has threatened a statewide shutdown of schools if lawmakers don't make funding more equitable before June 30.

It's not an overstatement, then, to say most Kansans will be impacted by what happens in Topeka over the next few days. 

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