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

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

At 43 years old, Katina Johnson is planning her high school graduation party. It's been about 30 years since she dropped out of middle school when she found out she was pregnant.

Even before then, though, she'd never had a stable education. Her mother was addicted to drugs and moved her around a lot before she died when Johnson was just 12 years old. "That was the last time I even seen the inside of a school," she says.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

About 15 middle- and high-school students sit in a row of seats in a dark courtroom on a Monday night at Austin Municipal Court. A few of the students are talking quietly, but most of them are silent. No one looks like they want to be here. They were caught out of school by a police officer, and now they’re at the court's juvenile curfew class.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Lunchtime is wrapping up at Austin High School, just west of downtown. As students walk back inside, Austin ISD Police Officer Chris Roddy walks out. He heads toward the MoPac highway underpass, where there are some trails. He patrols the area daily for kids who may be skipping school.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News.

Some urban school districts across Texas, including Austin, have banned out-of-school suspensions of pre-K through second-grade students, but a bill before the House Public Education Committee on Tuesday would ban out-of-school suspensions statewide for pre-K through second-graders. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Austin School Board Vice President Paul Saldaña said he is planning to announce his resignation from the school board Friday morning. He is holding a press conference  at 9 a.m. at the AISD boardroom at the district's Sixth Street headquarters.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The Austin School Board is considering a plan for the future of its facilities. It comes with a $4.6 billion price tag over the next 25 years. That's a lot of money for a district with a tight budget, and it raises questions about how quickly the proposal could be implemented if the state doesn't change its school finance system. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The Austin School Board is continuing to discuss a plan for the future of the district’s school buildings. At first, that plan included school closures, but the latest version, offered last night by a district committee, doesn’t close any schools.

Instead, it puts those campuses on something called a “target utilization plan," a fancy way to buy these schools time to boost enrollment before the district considers closing them. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

It’s no secret that Austin ISD is strapped for cash.

The district often blames that on the state’s school finance system, which requires it to send hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes back to the state. So, in an effort to save a little money, the Austin School Board has proposed changing how school board trustees are elected.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

At the beginning of KUT's 12th and Chicon project, we told the story of Anderson High School — a beacon of the black community in East Austin until its forced closure in 1971 as part of desegregation. But Anderson wasn’t the only neighborhood school to close. Kealing Junior High School did, too. It was reopened in the mid-1980s as a neighborhood school with a magnet program, but the tensions of the past still linger in the school’s hallways.

Kenisha Coburn is trying to change that. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Colette Pierce Burnette didn’t have the smoothest of landings when she arrived in Austin just over two years ago.

She fell in the Atlanta airport and was dependent on ride-hailing apps to get around for the first couple of weeks. To add insult to injury, most of her drivers didn’t know how to get to her new workplace, Huston-Tillotson University, where she was taking over as the school’s president.

Stephanie Tacy for KUT

Conrad Bejarano is sitting in the back room of his store, I Luv Vintage, at Guadalupe and 29th streets, with his son, Sebastian. They’re cutting out pictures from old magazines and making buttons.

"You smash that, swing it around and you get a souvenir button of Richard Gere and Jodie Foster," he says. 

South by Southwest is a weird time for locally owned stores outside of downtown, Bejarano says.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The Texas Senate Education Committee plans to discuss a bill next week that would allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to send their kids to private schools. The school voucher program is cited as a way to give students — especially low-income students — access to high-quality schools.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

The empty lot at the corner of Red River and Seventh streets turned into a village of services for people experiencing homelessness Saturday. Around 350 people living on the streets were able to get everything from a shower to yoga lessons at the Pop-Up Care Village. 

Students at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy and LBJ High School have developed a set of short-term solutions to increase collaboration and improve relationships between the two schools, located on the same campus in Northeast Austin.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Update (Feb. 28 at 6:30 a.m.)  The Austin ISD school board unanimously passed the proposed ban on suspensions for pre-K through second graders at its meeting last night.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

The Liberal Arts and Science Academy magnet school, known as LASA, is the top-performing high school in Austin ISD, but it's uniquely situated. It occupies the second floor of LBJ High School, a neighborhood school in Northeast Austin, and enrolls students from all over the district. 

KUT News

The Austin School Board unanimously approved a resolution 9-0 Monday night in support of all students, regardless of immigration status. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Teachers and principals should not feel afraid to provide information to immigrant families about what to do if ICE shows up at their homes, the local teacher's union said at a news conference today.  

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

A federal appeals court last week refused to reinstate President Trump’s travel ban, which temporarily bars travel from seven majority-Muslim countries. The ban is still on the minds of students and teachers at Austin Peace Academy, though.

Kate McGee / KUT

In the wake of recent ICE arrests in the Austin area, Austin ISD lawyers are directing principals and staff not to share with students resources and fliers that have not been vetted by the superintendent's office or general counsel. 

Pages