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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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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Austin
12:56 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

A Bunny In a Tank and Other Images of Austin on the Fourth

Part of the Far West Fourth of July parade included a "21 'Bun Salute," with this bunny in a mini-tank.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Women dancing with lawn chairs, men dressed as Uncle Sam, and a rabbit in a mini army tank are just a few of the highlights from the scene of the Far West Fourth of July Parade.

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Education
5:05 am
Thu July 4, 2013

Backpack Drive Aims to Help Austin Schoolkids

Some kids in East Austin will get help with school supplies this year.
courtesy flickr.com/stephendepolo/

A local mobile app development company is trying to fill 1,000 backpacks for poor kids in the Austin school district. The company, Headspring, is accepting money and backpacks filled with supplies, which will be distributed across five schools on Austin’s east side.

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Education
3:17 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Tuition Revenue Bond Bill Refiled - But Will It Go Anywhere?

Sen. Kel Seliger refiled a bill in the second special session to put money towards infrastructure projects for Texas universities, but he's not confident Gov. Rick Perry will add it to the list of bills to discuss.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

State Senator Kel Seliger re-filed a bill that would provide $2.7 billion dollars to public universities for infrastructure improvements.

But he's not confident that Gov. Rick Perry will add the bill to the agenda of the state's newest special session.

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Education
4:23 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

UT System Disappointed By Student Loan Interest Rate Jump

Starting July 1, student loan interest rates will double to 6.8% for new borrowers.
courtesy flickr.com/thisisbossi

Students planning to borrow money from the federal government to pay for college will now pay 6.8 percent interest on their Stafford student loans.

Today, UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa expressed his disappointment with the increase, which effectively doubled the percentage of interest rates on student loans. 

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Politics
1:01 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court Says Silence Can Be Used Against You in Trial

The court's decision in Salinas v Texas means a suspects silence during questioning can be used against them if the suspect doesn't specifically invoke his or her 5th amendment rights.
wallyg/flickr

With all the coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions last week regarding affirmative action, the Voting Rights Act and same-sex marriage, it’s not surprising some of the court’s other decisions didn’t receive as much attention, including one case that originated in Texas: Salinas v Texas.

 That decision is expected to have a big impact on the rights of criminal suspects on trial. 

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Politics
8:00 am
Sun June 30, 2013

How This Week's 3 Big Supreme Court Decisions Affect Texas

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on three cases this week that affect Texans.

This week was a busy one for the U.S. Supreme Court. It ruled on cases involving three major issues: affirmative action, same sex marriage and voting rights. 

All three of these cases have national implications, but they also mean changes for Texans, too. 

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Education
10:00 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Video: The Summer Camp That Prepares Texas Students for Disaster

This week, forty five Texas high school students participated in the Texas School Safety Center's third annual Youth Preparedness Camp. It's a week-long camp in Kerrville, Texas, aimed to teach students how to respond to emergencies and  increase disaster preparedness in Texas communities. 

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Politics
5:47 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Changes to the Voting Rights Act: What Texans Need to Know

The Supreme Court struck down a section of the Voting Rights Act, which could lead to less scrutiny in redistricting maps in the future
flickr.com/60064824@N03

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its second big decision of the week, striking down part of the Voting Rights Act. Supporters praised the decision, calling it a step forward in eliminating antiquated aspects of the law. Opponents of the decision say it makes it easier to discriminate against minorities.

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Breaking
12:31 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

DOMA Struck Down: What’s Next for Same-Sex Couples in Texas?

A rally at the Texas Capitol in May, when the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing the DOMA and Prop 8 cases.
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. 

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Voting Rights Act
5:39 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Voting Rights Act Partially Overturned; Texas Implements Voter ID Law

flickr.com/tabor-roeder

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.  

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Education
8:17 am
Mon June 24, 2013

How the Supreme Court Could Rule on Affirmative Action at UT

This week, the US Supreme Court is expected to rule on UT v Fisher, the case that questions whether it is constitutional to consider race in the college admissions process.
wallyg/flickr

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.

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LGBT
10:58 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Growing Up Gay and In the Closet: One Austin Woman's Story

LGBTQ Youth are more likely to have suicidal thoughts or behavior than heterosexual youth. A Town Hall will be held tonight to discuss the issue.
flickr.com/mr-pi

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.

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Education
5:47 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Are Schools Investing in Education Technology Properly?

A new study finds states aren't studying the return on investment of education technology, as Eanes ISD hosts iPadpalooza this week.
flickingerbrad/flickr

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. 

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