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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Austin ISD
8:55 am
Tue October 21, 2014

What's Next in the Search for Austin ISD's New Superintendent?

Interim Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz took over for departing Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, who left in April to lead Atlanta's public schools.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

The Austin Independent School District is taking steps to pick its next superintendent. Interim Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz took over the job in April, when former Superintendent Meria Carstarphen left to lead the district in Atlanta.

The deadline for candidates to apply was yesterday, and the district looks to begin a vetting process that will culminate in a confirmation of the next superintendent before the legislature meets in January.

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Del Valle ISD
1:53 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Del Valle ISD's Proposition Looks to Build 2 New Elementary Schools

The Del Valle Independent School District looks to fund two new elementary schools with some of the funds from a proposed $134 million bond proposal.
Credit Courtesy of Del Valle ISD

You might have heard lot about several bond propositions on the ballot, specifically Austin's $1 billion bond to pay for rail and road projects, but voters in the Del Valle School District are also deciding on a $134 million bond proposition.

The proposition looks to fund improvements, including everything from a new concession stand at the district's football stadium to buses to a pair of new elementary schools. The proposed projects may cover a broad swath of operational needs, but the proposition ultimately looks to get ahead of the district's future growth in student population.

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Austin ISD
1:41 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Austin School Board's At-Large Candidates Discuss Budget, Teacher Contracts in Forum

Three of the five candidates for the Austin School Board's at-large spot met last night.
Credit Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Three of the five candidates for the at-large Austin School Board seat discussed teacher pay, magnet programs and the superintendent search at a forum last night, but many of the candidates’ answers focused on the budget.

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Austin Community College
2:16 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

ACC's $386 Million Propositions Look to Expand, Renovate Campuses

ACC's propositions look to increase funding to campuses like its Highland Mall campus.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

With Austin's transportation bond, Prop 1, and Texas' additional transportation bond, also called Prop 1, garnering all the contention and headlines ahead of Election Day, it's easy to forget about other, less flashy bond propositions.

Austin Community College's three bond and tax propositions may not be high-profile, but they're not cheap either. If approved, the community college's proposed bonds would bring in nearly $400 million to fund expansion and renovations and would give ACC the ability to raise the cap on its tax rate.

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UT Austin
12:01 am
Wed October 15, 2014

UT Law Receives $1 Million Gift for Pro Bono Program

The UT Law school received one million dollars to support the school's Pro Bono program.
KUT News

The UT Law School has received a $1 million gift to support its Pro Bono program, which provides students with first hand experience while also helping people who can’t afford a lawyer.

The money was donated by Richard and Ginni Mithoff of Houston. The program will now be named after them.

“Every student who comes to the University of Texas is helped in being here by the taxpayer," says Ward Farnsworth, Dean of the Law School. "We’re a public law school and we think that creates obligations. So when a student comes out of UT they’re not going out to lead a great career, but they’re also dedicated to finding ways they can give back.” 

Farnsworth says the school encourages each student to sign a pledge to provide 50 hours of free legal work during their time in law school.

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Austin ISD
1:44 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Austin School Board Talks Opening Up Public Comment at Meetings

Parents say the process to comment publicly at Austin School Board meetings is often arduous, and that members don't have an open dialogue with concerned parents.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Changes may be coming to how the community is invited to communicate with the Austin School Board. Some say the current process is too onerous on working parents, that board members and parents don’t have a direct line of communication and that the board should be more available to parents district-wide.

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Austin City Limits
8:09 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Will the New City Council Be Open to Fewer Zilker Park Closures?

Events like Austin City Limits close Zilker Park for weeks at a time, and some say the city needs to work with organizers to reduce closures.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUTX

This year’s Austin City Limits festival is over, but the Great Lawn at Zilker Park will remain closed for about a month, leaving enough time to remove stages, sod the lawn and complete other post-festival maintenance. But, after that, the lawn will close again ahead of the Trail of Lights, and the park will close again in January.

Austinites, especially those living near the park, have often complained about the traffic, crowds and park closures that come with the festival.

But, will a new, geographically-representative city council be as willing to make accommodations for special events?

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Austin ISD
10:05 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Austin ISD School Board Candidates Say There's a 'Lack of Trust' in School District

School board candidates in Districts One and Four said the public has lost its faith in the school district.
KUT News

Austin School Board candidates in North Austin met last night in the first of three forums held by the League of Women Voters.  There are two candidates running in District Four, which includes Austin’s Northwest Hills neighborhoods and four candidates running in District One.

While the candidates all had different ideas, candidates all agreed on one thing: The public doesn’t trust the school district, which is one of the reasons, they say, the district is seeing declining enrollment, especially in East Austin schools.

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School Discipline
1:34 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Student Court Cases in Texas Drop 83 Percent In One Year

The number of student discipline cases filed in Texas juvenile courts dropped 83 percent in one year, according to the state Office of Court Administration.
Nathan Bernier/KUT News

The number of student discipline cases filed in Texas juvenile courts dropped 83 percent in one year, according to the state's Office of Court Administration. Officials say the drop is related to two bills passed by Texas lawmakers last legislative session, SB 393 and SB 1114, which allowed students' behavioral issues to be handled internally, rather than ticketing students and adjudicating behavior in courts.

“We were expecting a drop,” said David Slayton, director of the Office of Court Administration at a joint Public Education and Juvenile Justice hearing at the Texas Capitol Wednesday. “I don’t think we were expecting that significant of a drop in the first year. It’s quite astonishing.”

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Austin ISD
5:14 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

AISD Interim Superintendent Stresses Need For Community Engagement

AISD Interim Supterintendent Paul Cruz at a school board meeting. At Monday's State of the District, he says the community needs to step up and help AISD solve its financial issues and help the district stay competative.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Austin ISD Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz highlighted the positive during the annual State of the District address on Monday, but he didn’t ignore the district’s problems. 

Cruz called for community involvement from non-profits and foundations to the city of Austin to address challenges.

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College Sexual Assault
10:47 am
Fri October 3, 2014

UT Says Sexual Assault Reports On the Rise in 2014

Sources say since January, more students have reported sexual assaults than previous years and they expect an increase in next year's Annual Security Report.
KUT News

In 2013, the number of sexual assaults reported on or near UT Austin’s campus increased only slightly—three more cases were reported than the year before. That’s according to preliminary numbers from UT’s Annual Security Report, which was released this week. 

It's important to note that the numbers aren't likely to be an accurate representation of the number of actual assaults, since sexual assault is an historically underreported crime.

Last year's increase in sexual assault reports might not seem like a big one, but sources say next year’s report will be different.

UT couldn’t provide numbers for 2014, so far. But anecdotally, they say the university has seen an uptick in reports since January. 

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College Sexual Assault
1:08 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

UT Campus Stalking Incidents Spurred by Social Media, Report Says

UT officials say social media may be to blame for the increase in campus stalking incidents.
flickr.com/jasonahowie

The number of reported sexual assaults at UT Austin last year saw a slight increase from the previous year.

In a report, school officials say the crime remains underreported given the size of the student population on campus, but also expressed concern about the increase in stalking incidents on campus.

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College Sexual Assault
6:03 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Victims at UT Face Many Paths in Reporting Sexual Assault

Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

Dealing with a sexual assault is a traumatic process. Especially on college campuses, many victims are unsure of what to do or where to turn, and it can be overwhelming. 

As sexual assault moves further into public discussion, KUT is taking a look at how UT-Austin deals with sexual assault on campus. Today, we’re focusing on the reporting process, which is aimed at helping victims in the wake of sexual assault grapple with the legal, personal and academic fallout.

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College Sexual Assault
4:34 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

UT Austin Combats Sexual Assault With Focus on Consent

Audience members watch the skit and then are asked question about what they have just seen. The Voices Against Violence group reherses the skit "Get Sexy, Get Consent." The performers' friends were audience members, giving the actors a chance to practice
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Three actors are standing in a room in UT’s Counseling and Mental Health center, talking about sex.

It’s part of a performance called “Get Sexy, Get Consent," a series of skits put on by the Theatre for Dialogue program that are performed in front of everyone from freshmen at orientation to new athletes.

The program seeks to educate students on sexual assault in what's called the "red zone" – the peak reporting time between the first day of school and Thanksgiving, when reports of sexual assault reach their peak on many college campuses in the United States.

It's part of a larger effort by the University of Texas to prevent sexual assault amid national concern that many cases go unreported.

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UT Austin
5:01 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

UT Austin Continues to Increase Four Year Graduation Rate

More of last year's UT Austin freshmen returned to campus, earned better grades and more credits than any other class on record. The university says it's because of an increase effort to focus on freshmen.
Photo by KUT News.

More of last year’s UT Austin freshmen returned to campus, earned better grades and passed more classes than any other class on record. And the university says it’s because of a focus on freshmen. UT is giving struggling students extra services and identifying at-risk students at orientation. It's part of UT Austin President Bill Powers' goal to get four-year graduation rates up to 70 percent within five years.

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Austin ISD
12:01 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Austin ISD Celebrates Inaugural Pride Week

The Austin Independent School District began its first celebration of PRIDE Week today.
Credit http://www.flickr.com/asaustin

For the first time, the Austin Independent School District is celebrating Pride Week, which will feature conversations and celebrations to show support for their lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender staff and students.

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Education
9:58 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Texas Seeks Federal Grant for Pre-K Expansion

The TEA is seeking a four-year $30 million annual grant from the federal government to make pre-k classes readily available for moderate and low-income families.
Robert W. Hart

The Texas Education Agency has asked the federal government for grants to­ fund an expansion of pre-k programs statewide for moderate and low-income families.

Texas will compete with 35 other states, and Washington, D.C., and is eligible to receive up to $30 million annually over a four-year grant window. The grant expansion is offering a total of $160 million nationwide. The new federal grant would help states that currently serve more than 10 percent of four years olds to build and expand on those programs, which have faced drastic cuts over the years.

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Education
10:03 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Goodwill's Austin Charter Helps Older High School Dropouts Pick Up Where They Left Off

Georgina Hudson takes notes during class at the Goodwill Excel Center. The school is the first free public charter school for adults ages 19-50 in Texas. It's goal is to provide adults the opportunity and support to earn a high school diploma and post-sec
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

In Texas, students over the age of 25 are considered too old to educate, leaving many older high school dropouts with few ways to earn a diploma.

But a new charter school pilot program in Austin is hoping to change that. Goodwill Industries has opened a public charter school for students ages 19 to 50, which they hope to be a model for schools looking to help high school dropouts continue their education and earn their diploma.

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SXSW 2014
2:49 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Austin Calls for Less Free Booze, More Enforcement Before the Next SXSW

The city says the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will have an expanded presence at this year's South By Southwest.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

City of Austin officials are out with their evaluation of this year’s South by Southwest Music Festival. Most of the changes and recommendations involve alcohol consumption and crowds.

A major issue, according to city officials, is over-consumption of free alcohol. The city says next year, a representative from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will be at the South by Southwest command post during the day.

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Education
6:03 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

ACLU Files Civil Rights Complaint Against Austin ISD Single-Sex Schools

Students at Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy, a new all-boys school on Austin's East Side. The ACLU is asking the federal government to investigate AISD for racial and sex discrimination for creating a single sex school.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is asking the federal government to investigate possible discrimination at the two single-sex campuses in the Austin Independent School District. The ACLU filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Wednesday.

The ACLU says when the district decided to turn two failing East Austin middle schools into single-sex schools, it used unproven and debunked research about the differences in the way boys and girls learn.

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