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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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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Education
9:41 am
Tue September 2, 2014

As School Begins, Two High Schools Mark Early College Program Expansions

Reagan High School is one of two early college programs in Austin ISD.
Photo by KUT News

While the school year is just beginning, for Reagan High School and LBJ High School the end of the year will mark the first graduating classes in their Early College programs.

The programs offer free tuition and books to students looking for a leg up in college, or to earn an associate’s degree while still in high school. For Reagan, the program has revitalized the East Austin school given 90 percent of economically disadvantaged students a chance to pursue higher education.

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Education
2:03 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

Austin ISD Secures $3 Million for Science Center at Anderson High School

The AusTIN CANs robotoics club from Anderson High School won the Engineering Inspiration Award, besting 400 other teams in the international FIRST Robotics World Championship.
Credit facebook.com/austincans

Last week, the Austin School Board accepted a nearly three million-dollar donation from a private donor to build a new applied technology center at Anderson High School. The new 14,000-square foot building will hold two computer labs dedicated to computer sciences as well as a manufacturing workshop to help in building robots for the school's nationally-recognized robotics program.

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Austin ISD
12:17 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Single Sex Schools Breathe New Life into Failing East Austin Middle Schools

Principal Savina at the all-girls school says she still believes her school will provide female students with a better experience.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Seventh graders are gathered in the cafeteria of the Gus Garcia Young Men’s Leadership Academy. They’re all dressed in white button down shirts and khaki pants. In their hands, they hold silver ties—which they are learning how to tie by themselves.

"Put it through the front hole and pull it down," instructs counselor, Sabrina Brown. "Okay. And start fixing it. Oh, there you go! Pull it, pull it!”

“This is so weird," says seventh grader Martin Gonzales. "I look like I’m going to work!”

Gonzales moved to Austin this summer and says he enrolled at Gus Garcia because his brother wanted to attend.

“But now that I’m here, it’s pretty cool," he says, despite the fact that it's all boys. "It’s pretty weird. I’m not used to it. Regularly my teachers call me a ladies man.”

Well, that won't matter as much at this school.

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AISD Budget
10:34 am
Wed August 27, 2014

AISD Passes 2015 Budget, Approves Pay Increase for Teachers & Employees

The Austin Independent School District board meeting on June 16, 2014.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Last night, the Austin Independent School District board approved a 2015 budget of over $1 billion, which includes pay increases for teachers and employees.

However, those increases are a one-time deal due to the so-called "recapture program" in the state's school finance laws, which will require a reallocation of $175 million in Travis County property taxes this year.

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Austin ISD
10:32 am
Fri August 22, 2014

'Alarm' Over Texas School Finance, But Changes Not Expected Soon

Despite a possible decision in the school finance case next week, it could be years before local school districts see a change to the way public schools are financed in Texas.
Nathan Bernier/KUT News

A decision in the latest school finance lawsuit is expected next week, but it could be years before school districts see any changes to the way education is paid for in Texas.

Right now, the school finance system is largely characterized by something called recapture, or  Robin Hood. If a school district collects more local property taxes than the state has determined it needs using a set of formulas, it has to give the difference back to the state. Then, the state puts that money in a big pot and uses it to fund other school districts, especially those that can’t raise enough local property taxes on their own.

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Austin ISD
10:50 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Here's Why Austin ISD Won't Keep All the Tax Money It Collects

Under the current school finance system, property wealthy school districts must return some of their local property taxes to the state under what's called recapture. Next week, a judge is expected to rule whether the system is constitutional.
flickr.com/alamosbasement

Within the next couple weeks, an Austin judge is expected to rule whether the state’s school finance system is constitutional. Meanwhile, Austin Independent School District officials are worried about how much money the district will have to educate students next year—and five years down the road. 

The reasons for that go back to something called “recapture," a process that means some school districts don’t get to keep all the money they collect. And it's extremely complicated.

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2014 Elections
12:58 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Long Hours & No Pay Make School Board Hopefuls a Rare Find in Election Season

Candidates for the Austin School Board face long hours and late-night meetings.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Eighteen candidates are running for the five open seats on the Austin School Board this fall, which is nearly double the average number of people who have run for the school board in every election since 2002.

But, compared to the 78 candidates who have filed to run for the city council and the mayoral races this fall, the Austin school board doesn’t seem like the most popular place to spend your free time.   

That’s because being an Austin School Board Trustee isn’t easy.

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University of Texas
6:50 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Livestrong Gives $50 Million to UT's Dell Medical School

President Bill Powers says public-private partnerships such as the Livestrong Cancer Institutes are the future of UT-Austin's expansion.
Mengwen Cao/KUT

A $50 million donation to the forthcoming Dell Medical Center at UT-Austin will establish the Livestrong Cancer Institutes.

The gift, which will be doled out over the next decade, has pushed the university over its fundraising goal to raise $3 billion over eight years and looks to provide a new model of care for cancer patients in Travis County and beyond.

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