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, where she got her bachelor's degree in American Studies and History. 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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SXSW 2014
3:14 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

At SXSW Trade Show, Other Cities Say They Come to Pitch, Not Poach

Cities and countries are pitching themselves at SXSW as places for tourism and economic development.
Michael Samm

Update: KUT's Kate McGee appeared on WBUR's Here and Now to discuss governments pitching themselves at SXSW.

Read and listen: Cities And Countries Pitch Themselves At SXSW 

Original story (March 12): At South by Southwest, tech companies may come to pitch the next big mobile app or hardware, but city governments are also here to pitch themselves as the best place to create that next big app.

“There’s a collision of all the kinds of people were trying to attract, talented engineers looking for their next great opportunity, companies looking for a place to grow, or investors seeking deal flow," says Jenifer Boss, the director of business development with the deputy mayor’s office in Washington D.C.. "And we want to take advantage of having all those people in one place."  

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SXSW 2014
7:07 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

SXSW Crash Raises Concerns About Barricade Safety

A car plowed through barricades like these early Thursday morning, killing two and injuring 23. Now, some are questioning whether the city of Austin should use stronger barriers to increase pedestrian safety.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Every year during South by Southwest, police use barricades to create pedestrian-only streets. They’re meant to protect the large crowds that descend on the city.

But early Thursday morning, a driver plowed through one of those barricades, killing two people and injuring 23 others.

Now, some people, like pedestrian safety expert Rob Reiter, are questioning if the city should put more protective barriers in place. He says crashes like the one last night are preventable if the right types of barricades are used.

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SXSW 2014
5:49 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

How Driverless Cars Could Change the Way We Travel

Google is one company leading the creation of self-driving cars. While the technology itself is revolutionary, Chandra Bhat says it also has big implications for how people may travel in the future.
Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Self-driving cars are coming. It’s just a matter of when. Last year, four states passed laws allowing driverless cars on the road.  But for Chandra Bhat, director of the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Texas, the question is how driverless cars will affect other consumer choices people make: where they live, what types of cars they own, when they travel?

Listen to Bhat talk about some of those ways below.

Bhat spoke at SXSW Interactive on Monday about the implications of driverless cars.

SXSW 2014
10:59 pm
Sun March 9, 2014

Watch This Mural in Downtown Austin Come Alive on Your Smartphone

Two artists have created a mural in downtown Austin that becomes interactive when you hold up your smartphone to the mural.
Kate McGee, KUT News

The side of the Recess Arcade Bar on the corner of San Jacinto and East Sixth Street looks a little different.

Artists Jordan Seiler and BC Biermann spent the entire weekend pasting an 84 foot long mural on the side of the building.

Sieler, based in New York, says the mural deals with ideas of production and consumption.

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SXSW 2014
7:58 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Are Massive Open Online Courses Worth It?

Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs are free, online courses hosted by universities, but open to anyone with Internet access. Universities and colleges are increasingly offering them, but some question the MOOC model.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs are free, online courses hosted by universities, but open to anyone with Internet access. They’re a recent development in higher education.

This year, the University of Texas at Austin offered nine MOOCs through the nonprofit, edX.

Many praise MOOCs as a way to provide more educational opportunity, but some are questioning whether MOOCs are really a successful education model.

Jeff Meadows is one of those people.

He’s a teacher development coordinator with the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada and he’s hosting a core conversation at SXSW called, “If MOOCs Are So Great, Why Aren’t We All Doing it?" He came to KUT to talk more about it.

Listen below.

UT-Austin
12:15 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

UT-Austin Approves Partnership to Build World's Largest Telescope

The Giant Megellan Telescope is an international project to build the largest telescope of its kind.
GMTO.org

Update: UT-Austin has received the green light to participate in the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope. When constructed, it will be the world's largest telescope. 

The UT System Board of Regents authorized UT-Austin to put $50 million of its research reserves toward the project, and allowed the university to raise an additional $50 million in donations. 

“Being a charter investor in this remarkable scientific tool will benefit our students, our faculty and the whole university,” UT-Austin President Bill Powers said in a statement Friday.“Not only will we be helping to answer the most basic questions about our universe, but our involvement will underscore our status as a top world university. This is the leading edge of science, and it is where Texas must be.”

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SXSW 2014
11:10 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Austin: Here's the App You Need to Ditch the SXSW Crowds

An Austin-based advertising company created a web app to avoid crowds at SXSW. It uses Foursquare technology to let you know which bars, restaurants and coffee shops people haven't checked in at.
avoidhumans.com

Yogi Berra's famous quote – "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded" – has never really applied to Austin's South by Southwest festival.

Yes, there are crowds galore. But people keep coming: in 2012, the number of registrants increased by 15 percent over the previous year.

But now an Austin-based ad agency has developed an app for locals who might be looking to avoid the SXSW masses. It lets you know where people aren’t.

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Turning the Corner
7:45 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Dove Springs Residents Hope New City Council Elections Give Neighborhood a Voice

Edward Reyes, center, is the president of the Dove Springs neighborhood association. He's planning to run for city council in District Two, as the city transitions to single-member district elections.
Kate McGee, KUT News

Since August of last year, KUT has been looking at the Dove Springs neighborhood in Southeast Austin in its Turning the Corner series. It’s a neighborhood trying to rise above the challenges of poverty – and one common theme that’s been repeated by residents is that they feel ignored.

Cynthia Valadez used to live in the Dove Springs neighborhood.

“That was the one area of Travis County and the City of Austin that failed to get the clinics, the offices, the grocery stores, the doctor’s offices," Valadez says. "Anything that’s health related didn’t go there. You couldn’t do anything in that community."

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SXSWedu
9:11 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Why More Public Schools are Adopting the Montessori Model

Montessori education models have been around for more than a century, but experts say the charter school movement and other factors have made it more popular in public schools in the last decade.
flickr.com/chaimzvi

Disclosure: KUT is a sponsor of SXSWedu.

There are a lot of different opinions for how to educate children. Many are being discussed in Austin this week as part of the SXSWedu conference.

One method gaining popularity in public and charter schools is the Montessori model.

It’s an individualized, structured method in which children control their education with the help of a teacher, rather than a teacher standing in front of a classroom teaching everyone the same idea or subject.
This fall, a Montessori charter school opening up in East Austin is aiming to enroll low-income students.

But as public schools, they must adhere to state and federal standards, while staying true to their unique methods.

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Halloween Floods
2:41 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Austin to Receive Federal Funds to Buyout Homes in Onion Creek

The city of Austin has been awarded $11.8 million to buy out homes in the flood-prone Onion Creek neighborhood.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The federal government is sending $11.8 million to Travis County to help buy out homes in the flood-prone Onion Creek neighborhood.

More than 600 homes in the area were damaged or destroyed in last October’s flooding, but Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s office says the effort to buy out homes and restore the area to its natural habitat goes back to another flash flood there in 1998.

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SXSWedu
3:20 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

How Kendrick Lamar Can Teach Students About Beowulf

Sage Salvo is the creator of Words Liive, a curriculum program that uses hip hop to teach literature and poetry. He's pitching his program at SXSW Edu this week.
Courtesy of Words Liive

Disclosure: KUT is a sponsor of SXSW Edu

What do the works of Edgar Allen Poe and Jay-Z have in common?

A lot, argues Gilbert Perkins,who goes by his stage name: Sage Salvo.

Salvo is an artist and poet from Washington D.C., but he’s also developed a curriculum called Words Liive. It uses rap and hip-hop to teach major themes and devices in poetry and literature – everything from similes and metaphors to epic poems and motifs in novels. Salvo is pitching his curriculum in Austin this week for SXSWedu and stopped by KUT to talk about his curriculum.

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Austin
4:54 pm
Sat March 1, 2014

Zilker Kite Festival Postponed Due to Weather

The Zilker Park Kite Festival has been postponed to March 9 due to weather
http://www.flickr.com/bill78704/

The 86th annual Zilker Kite Festival is postponed until next Sunday, March 9, due to weather.

City officials made the decision Saturday afternoon, as the National Weather Service predicts isolated thunderstorms Sunday could get severe.

Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing Sunday night.

UT Austin
10:53 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

UT Austin to Sell Alcohol at Longhorn Athletic Games Starting Friday

UT Austin will start selling alcohol at Longhorn basketball, baseball and softball games, starting Friday, when Texas Softball hosts the Texas Invitational.
Dave Wilson Photography http://davewilsonphotography.com/

Update: UT Austin says it will start selling beer and wine at Red & Charline McCombs Field Friday when Texas Softball hosts the Texas Invitational. 

“This trial will be in effect this spring for all remaining men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball games, and the fan fest area at the Texas Relays,” said UT Men’s Athletics Director Steve Patterson in a statement released Thursday. “We could look into expanding it for other sports events next fall provided the outcome of the trial is positive.”

At the end of the 2014 spring sports season, UT officials, along with UT Police, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and UT Athletics concessionaire Sodexho Sports and Leisure, say they will evaluate the effectiveness and safety of the trial to see if alcohol will be served at other sporting events. 

The beer and wine trial will not include the spring football game on April 19 at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.

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AISD
11:50 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Austin School Board Approves Three-Year Teacher Contracts

The Austin School Board is scheduled to vote Monday whether to go from one-year to three-year teacher contracts
Nathan Bernier, KUT News.

Update:  The Austin School Board voted to reinstate three-year contracts for teachers and principals in a five to four vote Monday night. At the same meeting, school district officials also proposed to to close a projected $32 million budget gap for Fiscal Year 2015. 

The decision to move to three-year contracts comes after the school district and teacher's union, Education Austin, came to an impasse over the issue last month. Austin ISD went from three to one year contracts in 2011, when the state legislature cut billions in public education funding, also forcing the district to lay off more than 1,000 employees.

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Turning The Corner
8:18 am
Fri February 21, 2014

This Dove Springs Librarian Tells Austin Students to 'Get Mad' and Demand an Education

For the past 11 years, Ivan Cervantes has served as the librarian at Mendez Middle School. He began a program that allows students to use computers and play learning-oriented games before school each morning.
Jon Shapley for KUT News

This article is part of KUT's year-long series called Turning the Corner, which takes a look at Austin's Dove Springs neighborhood. For decades, the neighborhood has had a negative reputation. Now, many community members are trying to change the perception of the 78744 zip code. Listen to those stories here.

In low-income neighborhoods around Austin, 87 percent of children entering kindergarten are considered unprepared for school, which means many of them lack basic literacy skills. At Mendez Middle School in Austin’s Dove Springs neighborhood, that struggle is obvious. Last year, less than half of Mendez sixth graders passed the state standardized test for reading. 

Read more

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