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

Charlotte Carpenter / KUT

Austin’s Robert E. Lee Elementary school has a new name: Russell Lee. The Austin School Board voted 8-1 to change the name Monday night. But for some school board members, the decision wasn't an easy one.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

This week, the Vision Zero draft plan moved through the city council’s Mobility Committee this week. The committee voted 3 to 1 to send it to the full council for final vote. If approved, it’s up to the Vision Zero task force and various city departments to make sure the recommendations become a reality. Not everyone is confident the lead department, Austin Transportation, can handle that responsibility.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Francis Reilly is unique for an Austinite: he doesn’t have a car. He mostly rides his bike, but these days he mostly depends on the bus. To explain why, he met me at intersection of Wallis and Rollingwood Drives in Austin's Rollingwood neighborhood west of MoPac. 

“This is where I was hit by a landscaping truck about two years ago," Reilly says, as cars whiz by us. 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./ KUT News

This story is part of our series, The Road to Zerowhich explores traffic deaths and injuries in Austin and the city's plan to prevent them.

Traffic fatalities are down nationwide, but new research shows those declines are mostly among highly educated people. If you have less than a high school diploma, the rate of death in a car crash has actually increased.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

This story is part of our series, The Road to Zero, which explores traffic deaths and injuries in Austin and the city's plan to prevent them.

Robert Lormond is standing on the corner of Ben White and Manchaca watching his friend, Jerry. Two police officers have stopped him.

“I called him across the street. I didn’t see a police officer and he jaywalked," Lormond says.

There are crosswalks on three of the four sides of this intersection, but Jerry cut across the road—the one side without a crosswalk and that's illegal.

Courtesy of Adrienne White

This story is part of our series, The Road to Zerowhich explores traffic deaths and injuries in Austin and the city's plan to prevent them.

When Adrienne White arrived home on Mar. 5, 2016, she found a note on her door from an Austin police officer that made her panic. 


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

The city of Austin’s Vision Zero plan is heading to the full city council for final approval next week with the blessing of the city’s Mobility Committee, which voted to send the plan to the full council Monday.

Francis Reilly of the city’s planning department told the Mobility Committee that traffic deaths are a public health problem, like smoking or seat belt use.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Three years ago, state lawmakers approved a pilot program in Austin that allows adults up to 50 years old to go back to school to earn their high school diplomas. And over the last 18 months, the Excel Charter School has graduated 75 former high school drop-outs.

While Texas law allows students up to 25 years old to enroll in high school, once a person turns 26, their options are limited to getting a GED.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

This story is part of the NPR reporting project School Money, a nationwide collaboration between NPR’s Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.

Last May, State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock stood on the bustling floor of the Texas House of Representatives in Austin and smiled.

Photo by KUT News

Most of the Austin School Board members want a larger salary increase for teachers than the district recommended. At a meeting Monday night they urged district officials to consider large pay bumps before bringing the budget back to the board for a vote, but that could mean deficits in future budgets.


Charlotte Carpenter / KUT

Donald Trump, Harper Lee, and Spike Lee: Those are just a few of the famous names submitted to the Austin Independent School District as suggestions for the re-naming of Robert E. Lee Elementary.

Update Monday 3 p.m. The Lee Elementary Campus Advisory Council narrowed down the list to 8 names, according to a press release the district sent out Monday afternoon. The names on the list, which will be narrowed down to a final 3 by May 3, are: Barbara Smith Conrad, Bettie Mann (former Lee Elementary teacher of more than 35 years and first African American educator at the school), Elisabet Ney, Harper Lee, former AISD music director Kenneth Ragsdale, Russell Lee, Waller Creek and Wheeler's Grove. The final decision is still scheduled for May 23.

Kate McGee/KUT

Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Hyde Park will get a new name later this spring.

Last night, the Austin School Board voted to start the re-naming process. It’s been a long conversation that has divided members of the community, but the school board ultimately opted to change the name of the school on a vote of 8-0, with one board member abstaining.


Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

UPDATE 10:00 pm: The Austin ISD Board of Trustees voted 8-0 to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary. Trustee Ann Teich abstained from voting.

The district will begin accepting nominations for new names on Tuesday and will present options to the board in May.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Austin School Board could vote tonight to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School. It’s one of four Austin schools named after a Confederate leader. But, it’s the only school community that has mobilized to change the name, and one school board trustee is frustrated with how Austin ISD and the school board are handling the issue.


Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

The Austin School District owns 10 properties that aren’t schools—and the school board is expected to vote Monday whether it will accept bids to possibly lease, sell or repurpose those pieces of land. That includes the Baker School in Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood, but some residents aren’t happy the land might be up for sale.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

It was probably a staple of your high school experience.

That little oasis where you could go in between classes to collect your books, to freshen up your make up or, maybe, to check to see if your baby mustache is still growing in properly. 

But, it’s an experience that most kids now don’t get the chance to have.  We're talking, of course, about the school locker. 

    

Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

By the end of this month, the Austin School Board could approve a resolution to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School, and the board will review the resolution Monday night before a final vote next week.


One night two years ago, Terrence Henry (devout KUT listeners will probably remember him) was at home during SXSW when he felt his floorboards start to vibrate.

“I stepped outside, and it sounded like there was a concert happening a couple blocks away. I could hear the bass. I could hear the lyrics," he said. "After a little bit of research, we determined it was Snoop Dogg."

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

Seventh grade was a pivotal year for Violet Jimenez. It’s when she started her first job, working as a clown.

“I did birthday parties for little kids and weddings," Violet says. "One of the jokes we always had is, 'We do birthday parties, we do weddings, we do quinceañeras, we do divorces, we do funerals.'”


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Austin ISD and local charter school students got a chance to pitch innovative learning projects to a group of judges and experts this week as part of SXSWedu. Winners were awarded money to jumpstart their projects that focus on everything from gaming to equitable water access.


KUT News

A Texas Representative drew criticism today when she said the best way to avoid sexual assault is to stay sober. 


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