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. 

Ways To Connect

Paul Woodruff for KUT

The second weekend of Austin City Limits starts today.  There’s one difference from last week—Florence and the Machine is headlining Sunday night instead of The Strokes. And Modest Mouse is playing instead of Alabama Shakes. If you look at the line up overall, Florence Welch and Brittany Howard, the lead singer of Alabama Shakes, are the only female performers in the top ten performing slots. It’s a trend seen at music festivals across the country. 

Kate McGee/KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is targeting a new ally in the battle to boost student enrollment at some South Austin schools: real estate agents. The district opened the doors of three neighborhood schools to give real estate agents a better look at what's going on in the classrooms. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUTX

If you've ever attended Austin City Limits, you know the festival is pretty strict about what you can bring inside: two sealed water bottles, no food and no large umbrellas, among other things (no audio equipment, for example — so all of these interviews were done before people entered the park).

But that list of restrictions doesn’t keep people from trying to sneak things in. 


UT Austin is holding its first of two public forums tonight as it decides how to comply with the new law that allows concealed weapons on college campuses in Texas. Public universities must comply with the law, which goes into effect August 1, 2016, but private universities can opt out. Still, there is plenty of uncertainty for private institutions going through the opt-out process.

KUT News

About one in five female undergraduates at the University of Texas at Austin experienced some type of sexual assault or misconduct while in college, according to a newly released survey by the Association of American Universities


Four public schools in North Austin have received a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the federal government to implement a full community school model on their campuses. Austin ISD is expected to announce the grant later this morning. 

The four schools are Lanier High School, Burnet Middle School, Cook Elementary and Wooldridge Elementary. 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

To understand the challenges many college-bound students face, KUT’s Kate McGee followed three students this summer as they graduated high school and prepared for college. She tracked their progress on a Tumblr site, The Months Between.

Todd Wiseman, Damian Gadal, Robert Couse-Baker/Texas Tribune

The system Texas uses to pay for public schools was back in court today, and lawyers on both sides argued over whether the system is constitutional. It's an argument that's been going on for more than thirty years.

This particular case started in 2011, when the state legislature cut more than $5 billion from public education. Two-thirds of Texas school districts sued the state, arguing the cuts made it impossible to meet state academic standards. They won in a lower court. But today, the case was argued in the state Supreme Court.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

A $37 million program to reduce childhood obesity in Texas didn’t actually achieve any of its desired results, according to a new study from the University of Texas

The Texas Fitness Now program gave grants to the state’s poorest middle schools from 2007 to 2011, when the program ended due to budget cuts.

Andrew Weber/KUT News

Most students in the Austin Independent School District returning to school today are minorities, but many of those students won’t see a minority teacher in front of the classroom. State data show there's a large diversity gap between teachers and students in all Austin high schools and middle schools.

Every single Austin middle and high school has more white teachers than teachers of any other ethnicity. Individually, schools have teaching staffs that are anywhere from 46 to 87 percent white. Last year, 25 percent of the district's middle and high school students were white. 


This week, the Austin Independent School District holds its annual gang resistance and training summer camp for students. For the Austin ISD Police Department, which organizes the event, it’s just one way to try to eliminate gang activity on campuses.

Austin ISD Police Chief Eric Mendez says his department has two goals when it comes to gang activity. First, keep it off campus. Second, make sure students aren’t joining gangs.

“We want to catch them when they’re more statistically inclined to engage in criminal activity or criminal gangs,” says Mendez.

Via change.org

The future of monuments to Civil War figures on the University of Texas at Austin campus was discussed at a public forum today. The University held the first of two forums to collect community feedback about the placement of a statue of Jefferson Davis on the main mall of campus.

In June, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley declared that the state would remove the Confederate flag from its Capitol building, in the wake of a racially motivated shooting spree in a Charleston church that killed nine. South Carolina's state senators voted officially today to remove the flag, but elsewhere in the U.S., the debate about Confederate symbols, hate and history continues.

Students, staff, professors, alumni and Austinites stood on the auditorium stage of the Student Activity Center this afternoon and voiced their thoughts on the Davis statue — its history, and what it represents and symbolizes to students. 


High schools like to brag about how many students they graduate and how many of those students are headed to college in the fall. 

But once those graduating seniors receive their diploma, for many schools, their work is done. The support these students have grown accustomed to throughout high school disappears. 

Austin Community College

Students heading to college have many steps to take before they can enroll. Some of those steps, like navigating the financial aid system, choosing which courses to take and finally scheduling classes, can be daunting for some students. 

Austin Community College is trying to make the process easier for students by establishing a new center to help shepherd struggling students through the process.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Rev. Richard Bates, a retired Methodist minister, began performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples today on the fifth floor of the Travis County Courthouse, including Ted Burton and Darin Upchurch. 

First, they had to get their marriage license at the Travis County Clerk's Office. They wore tan linen jackets and brightly colored checkered shirts to the clerk's office. It was an emotional moment.

Charlotte Carpenter/KUT

In the midst of a national discussion about Confederate symbols, some residents in Austin's Hyde Park neighborhood want the school board to change the name of a local elementary school. Lee Elementary was named for Confederate Army Commander Robert E. Lee. 

"To honor him with naming schools after him is, I think, just inappropriate," says Teresa Griffin, a Hyde Park resident for 25 years and member of the Friends of Hyde Park Neighborhood Association


According to a new study released by Austin Resource Recovery, almost half of residential trash collected from curbs and going into Austin landfills could have been recycled. The city-commissioned study also found that 46 percent of the residential trash that ends up in the landfill could have been composted.

“Too much paper, too much plastic, too much metals [are] going to the landfill instead of in the blue cart,” says Bob Gedert, director of Austin Resource Recovery. “So although Austinites believe in recycling and set out their recycling cart with some of their recyclables, we need more recyclables from the household.”

BES Photos/flickr

Texas school districts will be required to have cameras in special education classrooms if a parent, school board trustee or staff member requests it, starting in the 2016-2017 school year.  The cameras are aimed at improving safety for more vulnerable students, but some education groups say it’s an unfunded mandate for school districts.

During the legislative session, dozens of parents testified in support of the camera proposal. Many parents who testified spoke about their children who were abused or isolated for long periods of time.

Sen. Eddie Lucio, who wrote the bill, says the cameras would provide protection for students who can’t protect themselves.

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

Last week, a report commissioned by the City of Austin was released which looked at the effect of the plastic bag ban in the city.

The report says that, in the two years since the Austin City Council banned single-use plastic bags, Austin reduced its annual consumption of plastic bags by nearly 75 percent. But some researchers say that’s not entirely true.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Note: This story will be updated as it develops.

Texas public schools can once again can have deep fat fryers and soda machines on campus, starting this fall. Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who oversees school nutrition policy in Texas, announced Thursday he’s lifting the decade-old ban as part of his new five-point plan to combat childhood obesity. Miller says schools don’t have to put in deep fryers or soda machines.

"We're just saying if you want [a deep fryer], go get one," Miller said in an interview at his office Thursday. "I'd be surprised if there's a dozen schools [that] put in deep fryers. One thing, we're not going to give them any money. They're going to have to go buy those."