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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Tyler Pratt, KUT News

Update: The U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on two same-sex marriage cases today means those unions will now be recognized by the federal government. In separate cases, the court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and the state of California can now resume efforts to legalize same sex marriage.

But neither of these rulings will directly affect Texas residents. 

“The ruling today was limited in the sense it didn’t extend to strike down defense of marriage acts that exist on state level," says Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas.

Texas’ own Defense Against Marriage Act will remain on the books. Gov. Rick Perry signed the law in 2003.  In 2005, the state legislature also passed a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. If that amendment were repealed, it would need two-thirds approval by the state House and Senate. It would then go to voters for final approval. 

Same sex marriage is legal in 12 states and the District of Columbia. 


The Supreme Court has overturned a portion of the Voting Rights Act. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says this morning’s decision means a Texas voter ID law "will take effect immediately." Scroll down for updates. 

The high court struck down Section 4 of the act, which establishes a formula to identify portions of the county (primarily the South) where changes to elections must be approved by the Department of Justice. That was to ensure minority voting rights weren’t infringed upon.

From the court's opinion:

"Coverage today is based on decades-old data and eradicated practices. The formula captures States by reference to literacy tests and low voter registration and turnout in the 1960s and early 1970s. But such tests have been banned for over 40 years. And voter registration and turnout numbers in covered States have risen dramatically."

The court didn’t do away with Section 5 of the act – the portion that allows the Department of Justice to reject state laws it sees as discriminatory. Instead, the court says the new standards should be created, instead of the expanded coverage called for under Section 4.  


Update: It turned out the Supreme Court went in an entirely different direction - returning the ruling to a lower court, essentially on a technicality. 

Read more here: Supreme Court Punts on Affirmative Action’s Merits; Returns Ruling to Lower Court

Original Post: This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down three major decisions that will affect Texans—including Fisher v. University of Texas.  That case asks the question if it’s constitutional to consider race in the college admissions process.


Austin resident Alyshia Foster grew up outside Dallas. When she was nine, she started taking medication to deal with depression.

“There had been this festering ugliness and self-hatred and I felt it was killing everything beautiful about it and I didn’t know what it was," Foster said.


This week the Eanes School District is holding a conference called iPadpalooza.

Every child in the district has an iPad and schools want to find ways to use them better.

The conference comes as the Center for American Progress released a study that says states don’t know how much investments like these in education technology are actually helping students. 

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

STAAR test results released last week show minimal gains compared to 2012. It was the second year students took the new standardized tests, which teachers and administrators say are more rigorous. 


The City of Austin estimates Asians and Asian-Americans will exceed the number of African-Americans in the city over next several years, based on new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau

Overall, the school district reaches out to non-English speaking parents and students by providing translators and handouts printed in multiple languages.

KUT News

Asians and Asian-Americans will outnumber African-Americans in Austin over next several years, according to city estimates based on new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Austin Independent School District, where students speak 86 languages, is working to accommodate changing demographics.

Jeff Heimsath, KUT News

For many students, that summer between high school graduation and the first year of college is one of anticipation and excitement.

But for others, it can present roadblocks that can lead students to not attend college in the fall. 

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide money to help rebuild the town of West after April’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion.

FEMA has approved more than $7 million in aid and loans to West residents impacted by the blast, but has denied assistance for things like crisis counseling, legal services, and unemployment assistance.  

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

For at least fifty years, the Austin Independent School District has used portable classrooms as a way to relieve overcrowding. Yesterday, KUT reported more than half of the nearly 650 portables are over 25 years old – some are more than 50 years old. Many teachers and parents say portables conditions are poor.

But what – if anything – can the school district can do about it? 

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

This past school year, more than 86,000 students in the Austin Independent School District woke up and went to class each day. For a growing number of those children, their learning is happening inside portable classrooms. 

AISD has almost 650 portable classrooms. The district bought most of them in the 1980's and 1990's. But dozens were purchased before that – some as early as 1952. Many teachers and parents say time is taking its toll on what was supposed to be a temporary solution to deal with overcrowding. 

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Today is the first day of summer vacation, as the public school year came to a close yesterday in Austin. For students at IDEA Allan Elementary School, a charter school run by IDEA Public Schools, it was the last day of school at that campus. They’ll be leaving behind an empty building and taking with them millions of dollars of future district revenue.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The state's top education official has approved a plan by Austin Independent School District that will allow Eastside Memorial High School to remain open. The campus had faced closure after years of failing to meet the state's academic benchmarks and after the Austin school board voted to discontinue a contract it had with the South Texas-based charter school operator IDEA that aimed to reverse sagging outcomes. 

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams made the announcement Wednesday evening at a commencement ceremony for the 129 graduating seniors at Eastside Memorial.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

District Court Judge John Dietz said this morning he will hold a hearing to consider reopening the  Texas School Finance case to weigh the impacts of  changes made to education during the most recent legislative session. 

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

AISD says it will likely not grant health benefits to domestic partners of employees. The school district will wait until a federal court decides on the issue.

This is after AISD announced in March it would extend health benefits to domestic partners, which includes same sex and unmarried couples.

KUT News

AISD's Chief Finance Officer, Nicole Conley, presented a revised proposed $879 million  budget for the next fiscal year Monday night.

She said although Texas public schools may be getting $3.9 billion dollars restored from the $5.4 billion state lawmakers cut in 2011, AISD isn’t expecting much of a benefit locally from the partial funding restoration. 

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District Board approved a plan last night for the elementary and middle schools that feed into Eastside Memorial High.

Eastside hasn’t been meeting academic standards and could be shut down. In an effort to keep it open, the board approved a partnership with Johns Hopkins last month.  But that program’s plan didn’t include an outline of what should happen at feeder schools.

Kate McGee, KUT News

More than 100 Austin parents, teachers and community members gathered at Mendez Middle School Saturday for an immigration forum sponsored by the teachers union, Education Austin. Advocacy groups and organizations provided information to undocumented immigrants about a pathway to citizenship and the latest on immigration reform.

It's a process that advocates say can stress out many parents. But it can be a stressor on children as well.


LGBT Pride Month begins June 1. While many situations are unique to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience, you many think aging is not. But there are increased risks for LGBT seniors.