Kate McGee

Education Reporter

Kate is the education reporter at KUT, covering the Austin Independent School District, public, and higher education in Texas. She got her public radio start at Fordham University's WFUV. Her voice has been heard on the East and West coasts as a reporter and producer for WNYC and KUNR in Reno, Nevada. She has also appeared on NPR's Morning Edition,  All Things Considered, The Takeaway  and more. In her spare time, Kate enjoys discovering new music, traveling and trying local beers. 

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Mengwen Cao for KUT

This summer, it was reported that all elementary schools in the Austin Independent School District would be required to provide half an hour of recess every day.

But, the policy isn’t in place just yet.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

For many middle and high school students, this year’s presidential election is their introduction to American politics and it’s an unusual election to start with. At Kealing Middle School, about a dozen students are taking an elective called Presidential Politics. They study the current presidential election — and local races, too. 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

It’s the end of the school day at the Not Your Ordinary School in North Austin and students in Melissa Hefner’s fourth grade class are sitting in a circle.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

The State Board of Education is hearing public comment today about a controversial Mexican American studies textbook. It was the only Mexican American studies textbook submitted for review to the board this year.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

It was a muggy morning on the Long Center Terrance in downtown Austin. Central Texas school superintendents and their staffs fanned themselves as they listened to a local student mariachi band play.

But these education leaders weren’t there to just hear the music. They were there to address a major issue in Central Texas schools: student attendance.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Jonathan Hernandez started attending Austin public schools when he was ten. He didn't speak any English when he started fifth grade at Andrews Elementary, but with the help of teachers in his bilingual classes, he was able to learn the language. 


Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Austin School Board Vice President Paul Saldaña says people describe Austin ISD as really two districts, split into east and west by I-35 – a wealthy western district and a poorer one east of it.


Jon Shapley for KUT

For many students trying to earn college credit in high school, choosing to take an Advanced Placement course or a dual credit course often comes down to personal preference.


Audrey McGlinchy / KUT

At some schools in Austin ISD, most students who take Advanced Placement tests fail those exams. But students at the same schools are passing dual credit classes, college courses taught through Austin Community College. 


Lisseth Lopez for KUT News

Central Market’s annual Hatch chile festival, Hatch-A-Palooza, is over for the year. But you can still get Hatch chiles pretty much in every Austin grocery store. Did you ever wonder why grocery stores get so excited about Hatch chiles? 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

LBJ Early College High School and the Liberal Arts and Science Academy share the same building in the Austin Independent School District. But the schools have different philosophies when it comes to how their students should pursue college credits in high school. 


Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Austin ISD offers Advanced Placement courses and tests at all of its schools, but the percentage of students who score high enough on the AP tests to receive college credit varies from campus to campus. 


US Army Corps of Engineers/flickr

Not everyone can get vaccinated. Some people are allergic to vaccines, others are receiving treatment for diseases like cancer, and some people are just too young. But doctors and state health authorities require public school students to be vaccinated—unless their parent signs a waiver exempting them from immunizations. The number of those exemptions is rising in Texas.


Nathan Bernier/KUT

South Austin residents hoping Austin ISD will open a public magnet school in their neighborhood, similar to the Liberal Arts and Science Academy, may be waiting a while. This week’s school board meeting revealed just how far away the district is from making a decision. 

The number of school districts in Texas that did not meet state standards in 2016 rose slightly over 2015, though almost 94 percent of districts statewide did pass.

1,131 districts met the standards, while 66 failed. At the individual school level, 7,667 campuses met the 2016 standards, which is a small improvement over last year.

As the Texas Tribune notes:

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon / KUT

Austin public school teachers and principals say they believe students of color are disproportionately disciplined in Austin ISD schools, according to a recently released results from the District Equity Self-Assessment. The survey results show many stakeholders believe there is room to improve equity in student outcomes, student access to academic programs and discipline.


US Army Corps of Engineers/flickr

When Austin resident Katy Ludlow was pregnant, she remembers how concerned many parents were about vaccinating their children. Actor Jenny McCarthy was speaking openly about her belief that her son’s autism was linked to vaccinations and Ludlow grew worried.


Nathan Bernier / KUT

Public school districts in Texas are no longer supposed to file criminal charges against a student for missing too much school. They’re supposed to use the court system only as a last resort. It’s part of last year’s sweeping change to the state’s truancy law that put more emphasis on preventing dropouts and truancy rather than criminalizing that behavior. But school districts are still waiting for some state guidance on how to do that.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

State education leaders want 60 percent of Texans 25 to 34 years old to have some kind of post-secondary certificate or degree by the year 2030. But to get there, students need to be ready to take college-level classes, and it can take leaders time to agree just who qualifies as prepared.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

This fall, the Manor Independent School District is starting a new kind of lending library: Students will be able to check out and take home backpacks filled with books from their teachers.  It’s part of a larger effort to get more books in front of younger students and their families. But, that can be difficult in the small Austin suburb, especially during the summer.


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