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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Education
12:13 am
Mon May 27, 2013

Two Big Education Bills Gain Approval from Texas Legislature

The Texas House and Senate passed committee reports on House Bill 5 and Senate Bill 2 on May 26, 2013.
morguefile.com

House and Senate members exchanged high fives and congratulations Sunday night, as they approved  conference committee reports on two bills impacting public education across Texas.

One bill increases the cap on charter schools, while the other reduces the number of end-of-course exams in public high schools.

Both bills are now heading to Gov. Rick Perry's desk for his signature.

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Education
11:21 am
Fri May 24, 2013

After Oklahoma Tornado, Austin Campuses Examine Storm Plans

Even though Austin isn't in the so-called 'Tornado Alley', UT and AISD both have plans in place in case of a tornado
flickr.com/inventorchris2

The recent tornado in Oklahoma and the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last year have increased people’s awareness of emergency management at schools. 

At the University of Texas’s Police Building, the Emergency Operation Center is quiet right now. But David Cronk, UT’s Emergency Preparedness director, says when there’s a threat or major event, the room can get pretty crowded.

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Education
5:25 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Students Need to Be More Active, Report Says

A teachers advocate says prepping for standardized testing takes time away from physical activity.
Rune Mathisen, Texas Tribune

Students should be getting 60 minutes a day of physical activity, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine. That exercise could happen before, during or after school.

The study also recommends the U.S. Department of Education declare physical education a core subject.

Bill Kohl, who led the committee that wrote the report, says physical activity improves learning in the classroom.

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Education
12:33 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Update: Webb Middle, Elementary Schools Lockdown Lifted


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Update: The lockdown at Webb Middle and primary schools has been lifted, according to AISD officials. Schools will resume a regular schedule. APD was not immediately available to confirm whether or not the suspect has been apprehended.

Original Story (12:18 p.m.): Webb Middle and primary schools are on lock down as Austin Police search for a possibly armed suspect in the St. Johns/I-35 area, according to Austin Independent School District.

The man is suspected to be connected to a woman who tried to cash a forged check this morning on the 6400 block of US-290.

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Education
5:10 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Early TAKS Scores Up at Eastside Memorial

A TAKS Test. Unofficial data shows improvements among 11th graders at Eastside Memorial
KUT News

Preliminary standardized test scores for this school year show improvements in multiple subjects at Eastside Memorial High School – a school that has had a history of failure going back nearly a decade.

According to unofficial data presented to Eastside Memorial teachers this week, 90 percent of students passed the TAKS end of year exam in English and Language Arts. That’s a nearly 20 percent jump from last year. 

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Education
3:53 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Bill to Ban Sale of Sugary Drinks in Schools Heads to Perry's Desk

A bill that would ban the sale of sugary drinks in elementary, middle schools is heading to Gov. Perry's desk
Juan Carlos/Flickr

Middle and elementary school students craving a Coke during the school day may be in trouble.

A bill that would ban the sale of sugary drinks in Texas middle and elementary schools is heading to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk for final approval.

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Education
12:27 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

AISD Board Approves Contract with Eastside Memorial Partner

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen at a press conference. At Monday's Board Meeting, she expressed concerns about a partnership.
KUT News

The Austin School Board Monday night approved a contract with Johns Hopkins University to implement its program — Talent Development Secondary — at Eastside Memorial High School. The decision comes after AISD canceled a contract with a charter school company to run an elementary school that fed into the high school.

The contract now goes to the Texas Education Commissioner for final approval. Although the vote was unanimous, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen questioned if the commissioner would approve the contract.

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Education
6:09 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Non-Profit Ranks Austin Metro Area Public Schools

Harmony Science Academy, ranked top public high school by Children at Risk.
Voices Empower with Alice Linahan/flickr

In a new statewide ranking of schools, Austin has some of the best grades and some of the worst.

The group – Children at Risk – grades schools on an A through F scale. Out of the four major metro areas in Texas, the Austin area has the highest percentage of campuses with A's.

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Education
6:04 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

AISD Considers Putting Ads on School Buses

AISD is considering placing advertising on school buses at its board meeting tonight
KUT News

The Austin School Board tonight will consider contracting with a company to put advertisements on the side of school buses. 

Cynthia Calvert owns the company Steep Creek Media. AISD is recommending the board approve a three year contract with the company.

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Education
2:09 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Austin 5th Grader Represents Texas in National Geographic Bee

Chinmay Murthy, the Texas finalist in the National Geographic Bee.
National Geographic

Update: Chinmay Murthy, the 5th grader representing Texas in the National Geographic Bee, did not move on past the preliminary round of the Bee.  He missed a chance to qualify in the Top Ten by two questions. Murthy is vowing to try again next year.

Original Story (9:18 a.m.): Monday marks the start of the three-day National Geographic Bee in Washington D.C.

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Education
12:27 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Texas Students Solve Math Problems for West Recovery

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams at a check presentation ceremony. Students raised money for West, Texas disaster relief.
Texas Education Agency

Students across Texas helped raise $11,367 to the American Red Cross  West, Texas Relief Fund.

How'd they do it? By solving math problems. 

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Education
4:44 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

This Austin Community's 'Bike Train' Means Safety in Numbers

Rachel Houston, left, and some Brentwood Elementary students biking to school. Houston and her husband, Greg, lead a Bike Train every morning to school.
Kate McGee, KUT News

When you drive around Austin, it's hard not to notice the growing number of cyclists next to your car.

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West Plant Explosion
8:49 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Cause of Blast in West Fertilizer Plant Explosion Still Unknown

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

State and federal fire officials say it’s still unclear what caused a fire that led to the explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West. The investigation will remain open. Despite many unknowns, residents are trying to move forward.

On North Reagan Street, the only sounds you hear are screeching grackles and the occasional resident returning to what’s left of his or her home.  Nearly every house on this street is destroyed. Windows and doors are blown out. Roofs caved in. Broken furniture is scattered across lawns. There is a stench in the air that originates from a fly covered refrigerator. Someone has written "Do Not Open, Spoiled Meat" on the front.

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Education
6:00 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Prop 2 Defeat Puts Brakes on New South Austin High School

Lockers at Bowie High School. Parents and community members want a new high school constructed in the area to relieve overcrowding at that school, among others.
Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Some Austin school board members say the failure of bond Proposition 2 means the opening of a new high school in South Austin will most likely be delayed.

The proposition included $8 million for studies to design the new high school. Officials say now the district will have to wait until the next bond election.

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West Plant Explosion
2:14 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Officials to Announce Results from Investigation into West Explosion

Officials are expected to announce the results of their investigation into the April 17 fertilizer plan explosion in West, Texas on Thursday.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

State Fire Marshal's Office and ATF officials Thursday will announce the final results of their investigation into the fertilizer plant explosion in West.

The April 17 explosion killed 15 people and injured hundreds.

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Education
9:31 am
Wed May 15, 2013

AISD’s Prop 4 Failure Means Less Money for Special Ed Schools

The Rosedale School for disabled children. If the entire bond package passed, it would've received $8.5 millon for renovations. Now, it will receive $400,000.
flickr.com/cool.as.a.cucumber

This failure of AISD bond Proposition 4 means the district's two schools for disabled children won't be getting as many renovations and repairs as the district had proposed.

Prop 4 would've put $10 million toward the district's two schools for disabled children, the Rosedale School and the Clifton Career Development Center. It also would have earmarked money for Career and Technical and Fine Art programs.

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Education
8:22 am
Mon May 13, 2013

For One Austin School, Funding Hangs on Affordable Housing

Travis Heights Elementary could see enrollment slide if nearby housing prices rise.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Residents at the Oak Creek Village apartments in south Austin are waiting to see if the state grants a developer tax incentives to construct a new, larger complex in its place.  The developer, Eureka Family Group, wants to keep 173 units as affordable housing — which would allow current residents to stay in their homes.

But, if the state doesn't approve the project, many residents might have to move.  Educators and parents at the nearby school — Travis Heights Elementary — are also concerned.

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Education
7:00 am
Sat May 11, 2013

The AISD Bond Election is Here

AISD's $892 Million dollar bond is up for a vote Saturday
KUT News

Polls are now open across Austin for AISD's $892 million dollar bond election. 

Registered voters can vote with a voter registration card, driver’s license or official photo ID, birth certificate, United States citizenship papers or passport, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, or other official document that shows the name and address of the voter. There are many voting locations across Austin.

The bond is separated into four propositions. Each prop would use that money for different projects -everything from basic repairs to constructing new schools. 

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Education
5:05 am
Fri May 10, 2013

AISD Bond Election is Saturday

Polls are open 7 to 7 on Saturday to vote on the school bond.
Jason Brackins, Texas Tribune

Saturday is the last chance to vote in the Austin school district’s bond election. It’s the district’s largest bond proposition ever: $892 million.

Austin residents will four propositions to vote on. The propositions divide the nearly package by topics and projects.

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Education
9:43 am
Thu May 9, 2013

As Obama’s High School Visit Nears, Education Advocates Question Emphasis on STEM

President Obama is visiting Manor New Tech High School, which has a STEM based education program. But some experts question is there's too much emphasis on STEM.
flickr.com/amylovesyah

President Obama is visiting Manor New Tech High School, which has a STEM-based education program. But some experts question is there's too much emphasis on STEM.

Brenda Ramlow’s daughter Paige is a junior at Manor New Tech, the high school President Barack Obama is visiting this afternoon. She says her daughter is interested in a career in video graphics.

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