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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Fort Hood Shootings
4:04 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Graphic Testimony Continues in Hasan Court Martial

Maj. Nidal Hasan (foreground) at the first day of his court martial in Fort Hood.
Brigitte Woosley

Over 40 witnesses have testified in the court martial of Maj. Nidal Hasan. Most of the witnesses today identified Hasan as the shooter. Many had been shot in the attack.

Nearly all of the witnesses testified when the shooting began they thought it was a training exercise. Even as some were hit, they thought they were hit by paintballs, until they noticed blood. They described a rapid firing, a pause as the shooter reloaded, and the continued shots ringing out. The testimony continues to be detailed and graphic.

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Fort Hood Shootings
6:48 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Inside the Fort Hood Courtroom: Quotes from the Hasan Trial

Brigitte Woosley

Today wraps up the first week of testimony in the trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the man accused of killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 at the Fort Hood Army Post on Nov. 5, 2009.  

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Fort Hood Shootings
6:56 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Ft. Hood Update: Lawyers Say Hasan's Seeking Death Sentence

A sketch of Maj. Nidal Hasan delivering his opening statement yesterday. His standby attorneys have asked to be removed from his trial.
Brigitte Woosley

Update: The trial of Major Nidal Hasan is expected to resume at 9 a.m. after an abrupt recess yesterday. Nidal's council filed a motion to clarify their role in the trial. Listen above to hear what  happened yesterday. 

Update: (12:53 p.m.)  When Maj. Nidal Hasan was wheeled into the courtroom Wednesday morning, the press expected to hear continued testimony in the trial. But it quickly became apparent today would present another twist in an already unprecedented case.

Late Tuesday night, Hasan’s standby council, led by Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, filed a motion to clarify the council’s role in the trial. The council believes Hasan wants the death penalty, and they do not want to provide legal assistance to him if that’s his goal.

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Fort Hood Shootings
8:14 am
Wed August 7, 2013

What You Need to Know From Day One of the Fort Hood Trial

Sketch of Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford testifying in Tuesday's trial.
Brigitte Woosley, sketch artist

Today marks Day Two in the trial of Major Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009. The trial is expected to take months – only twelve of the nearly 300 witnesses testified Tuesday. More of the prosecution’s witnesses will testify today as prosecutors continue to build a case against Hasan. 

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Fort Hood Shootings
1:46 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Hasan at Fort Hood Trial: 'I Am the Shooter'

Maj. Nidal Hasan (center) compared himself to a holy warrior "trying to establish a perfect religion" today.
Brigitte Woosley

Update: Testimony is underway in the Maj. Nidal Hasan case. Eight witnesses have testified so far, including employees at Guns Galore, a local gun shop where Hasan purchased ammunition and weapons.

Fredrick Brennan, one of the employees at Guns Galore, said Hasan regularly purchased 200 to 300 rounds of ammunition for shooting practice.

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Education
7:03 am
Thu August 1, 2013

So-Called 'Anti-American' Lesson Plans Available in Public Domain?

Education officials are questioning whether Texas teachers can use previously downloaded CSCOPE lesson plans after lawmakers announced the company would not be producing any more lessons.
flickr.com/ajalfaro

School starts in three weeks and, for many school districts across Texas, there’s still some confusion over whether teachers can use a system of lesson plans. The so-called CSCOPE lesson plans drew fire over allegations they promoted anti-American ideas. During the legislative session, Republican lawmakers announced Texas teachers would no longer use the plans and the non-profit, quasi-state agency that published them would cease to.

State Board of Education leaders say the controversy surrounding CSCOPE will most likely continue into the fall.

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Wildfires
6:43 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

200 Acre Wildfire Prompts Evacuations in Smithville (Update)

Smoke from the wildfire illuminated by a sunset
Kate McGee, KUT News

Update: Bastrop County officials say the STAR Flight helicopter is being brought back out to help extinguish some flare ups in the area. Earlier this afternoon, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative said it had restored power to all its customers.

The fire, now 252 acres, is 75 percent contained, according to Bastrop officials.

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West Plant Explosion
3:17 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Explosion Could Leave West, Texas Students in Portables For Years

A scene in West, Texas, following April’s fertilizer plant explosion. West school district officials say they'll have to house students in temporary structures as they repair or rebuild three of the four schools in the district.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Federal emergency officials have approved a $2.9 million grant for temporary structures to house students in schools devastated by the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion. 

The blast on April 17 killed 15 people and injured dozens others. 

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Arts and Culture
4:30 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Writer/Director Maggie Carey's To Do List For 'The To Do List'

Aubrey Plaza (L) and Alia Shawkat in "The To Do List," which opens July 26 nationwide.
CBS Films

For writer-director Maggie Carey, having the "The To Do List" in theaters nationwide is the last box she has to check off on her own To Do list.

The movie takes places in Idaho, but has roots in Austin. Carey is a graduate of UT's School of Radio, Television and Film, and the movie's script got off the ground at the Austin Film Festival in 2010. 

Here's Carey's own To Do List to make the "The To Do List," based on her interview with KUT News.

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Texas
6:45 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Eric Holder: Texas Should Still Clear Election Changes With U.S.

After a decision weakening the Voting Rights Act, Texas implemented a controversial Voter ID law.
Texas Dept. of Public Safety

Update: (6:43 p.m.) U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s speech Thursday mark the beginning of a new fight over the Voting Rights Act.

“It’s clear that Texas is the big test case for what may be a potentially broader effort to use the bail in mechanism to patch some of the damage caused by Supreme Court in Shelby v Holder into our voting rights regime," UT Law Professor Joseph Fishkin says.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. It’s the formula that determines which states need federal approval to change their voting laws or practices. Without the formula, there are no guidelines to determine which jurisdictions need their voting laws and practices pre-approved. Now the federal government is arguing Texas requires pre approval under another provision—section three. 

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Health
12:01 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Closing the Health Gap in East Austin

Community organizations are working to close the gap in public health disparities between ethnic groups in two Austin neighborhoods. They're trying to get sidewalks on streets to create more walkable neighborhoods.
Healthy People, Healthy Places Austin

This month marks the one-year anniversary of a project between the City of Austin and the UT's School of Public Health to reduce the gap in public health between ethnic groups in Austin.

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Education
4:53 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

HB 5 Architect Wants to Leave Implementation to Districts

HB 5 would create different paths for graduation for students to choose based on their interests.

The author of the new state law overhauling many aspects of public education in Texas says he wants school districts to decide how to implement the new standards, not the State Board of Education.

State Rep. Jimmie Aycock (R-Killeen) told the Board Friday that HB 5 was crafted to give local school boards flexibility in establishing paths to graduation. But he’s concerned the SBOE will create too many requirements that will counteract the goal of the bill. He wants to leave it local school districts.

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Education
5:14 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

What’s in Texas' $500 Million Testing Contract with Pearson?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/40964293@N07/4728093020/

Update: The Texas State Auditor has uncovered problems with the $462 million contract between the Texas Education Agency and the testing company, Pearson. The auditor released a report Tuesday. It found TEA doesn’t have a process or the training in place to monitor the contract.

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Education
4:31 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Austin Schoolteacher Using Superheroes to Teach Science

In one of Lin's videos, she explains the flaws of invisibility.
Ted Ed Radio


The non-profit organization famous for its inspirational talks and videos, TED, has taken the lesson plan of an Austin school district teacher and turned it into an animated video series.

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Education
7:00 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Could Halving the Dropout Rate Save Texas Half a Billion Dollars?

A new study finds if Texas cuts its dropout rate in half, it could save the state $547 million dollars in Medicaid spending
flickr.com/nodivision

Reducing the high school dropout rate in Texas by 50 percent could save the state $547 million in Medicaid spending annually, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education

The study finds raising education-attainment levels could reduce health-related costs – specifically surrounding obesity, tobacco and alcohol use and heart disease. 

"An educated citizen is a healthy, productive and happier citizen," Bob Wise, president of Alliance for Excellent Education, said in a statement released Wednesday.

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Education
6:47 am
Thu July 11, 2013

At Summer Camps, Austin Girls Gain Empowering Skills

GirlStart camps teach girls about scientific inquiry and related fields.
courtesy flickr.com/txkimmers

It's summertime, so most Austin students are out of school and many are in summer camps. Some are using this time to empower young girls through various programs, including a few camps trying to encourage girls to explore careers in typically male-dominated areas.

At the Latinitas camp in Austin, about a dozen girls hear from local director Sharon Arteaga talking about her work at Cine Chica Camp. The girls are learning to write, shoot and edit their own movies and discuss stereotypes of Latinas in the media.

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Fort Hood Shootings
4:44 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

First Day of Jury Selection in Fort Hood Trial Complete

At Tuesday's pretrial hearing, Maj. Nidal Hasan told the trial judge he is being forced to wear his military uniform.
Brigitte Woosley, sketch artist

Update: Six of the first 20 potential panelists in the trail of Major Nidal Hasan were dismissed today in the first day of jury selection. The court will resume tomorrow and split the remaining panelists into groups for individual questioning. The first group will begin at 9 a.m. and the second group will be questioned at 2:30 p.m. Hasan is accused of killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 in a shooting at the Fort Hood army post in 2009. 

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Politics
9:06 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Comprehensive Sex Ed Proposed in Response to Texas Abortion Debate

As part of the abortion debate - galvanized by Sen. Wendy Davis' filibuster - Democratic lawmakers want to teach Texas students comprehensive sex education.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Texas has one of the highest teen birth rates in the country.  According to a recent study by the Guttmacher Institute, in 2008, Texan teens had 85 pregnancies per 1,000 women 15-19 years old.

And while protests and hearings continue around Senate Bill 1 — the bill that would limit access to abortions in Texas — some Democratic state lawmakers have filed two bills that would make changes to health and sex education.

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Politics
2:00 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Poll: Most Texans Still Don't Want You to Mess with Them

A recent poll by Public Policy Polling found while Texans are becoming more liberal on some issues, most agree they don't want people messing with Texas.
flickr.com/amarilloposters

A recent poll from Public Policy Polling found 78 percent of Texans agree:

Don't Mess with Texas.

Nine percent say people should mess with Texas, and 13 percent are unsure.

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West Plant Explosion
9:22 am
Fri July 5, 2013

West ISD Demolishing Schools Damaged by Plant Explosion

West Middle School sustained the least damage to the ISD’s buildings following April’s fertilizer plant explosion. The school will house grades six through 12 when school begins this August.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

April’s fertilizer plant explosion left three of the four schools in the town of West, Texas destroyed or irreparably damaged, with the intermediate school completely flattened by the blast.

But, when school starts in August, the district says students won't have to be bused to other districts.

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