Elle Moxley | KBIA

Elle Moxley

.05pt">Elle joined KCUR in 2014 as a general assignment reporter. She covered the 2016 election in Kansas as part of a political reporting partnership with NPR. Today, she covers Missouri schools and politics.

.05pt">Before coming to KCUR, Elle covered Indiana education policy for NPR’s StateImpact project. Her work covering Indiana’s exit from the Common Core was nationally recognized with an Edward R. Murrow award.

.05pt">Elle has also reported for The Examiner in Independence, Missouri, and KBIA-FM in Columbia, Missouri. She is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.


Center and Hickman Mills school districts in south Kansas City are launching a new initiative to help stabilize homeless students and their families.

A chilly wind carried off the balloons students at Ingels Elementary released Monday in honor of a classmate who was shot and killed last year.

It’s been a year since a stray bullet struck and killed 9-year-old Dominic Young Jr., a third-grader at Ingels. Dominic’s father told police his son was riding in the backseat of a pickup when the family drove through a rolling gun battle near U.S. 71 and Emanual Cleaver II Boulevard. The case remains unsolved.

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Crestview Elementary third grader Hana Ismail is reading two books she picked out from her classroom library that feature Pakistani protagonists.

“Four Feet, Two Sandals,” by Karen Lynn Williams and illustrated by Khadra Mohammed, tells the story of two girls who meet in a refugee camp. “Malala’s Magic Pencil,” by Malala Yousafzai, is about the young Nobel laureate, with illustrations by Kerascoët.

“I get to pick out all my favorite books,” Hana said. “They’re really fun to read for me, and they give me more information about everything.”

Most children are taught that Martin Luther King Jr. created change through peaceful protest, but that narrative oversimplifies the civil rights leader’s legacy.

In schools that make racial equity a priority, educators are starting to change how they teach about King.

Missouri lawmakers are starting pay attention to turnaround efforts in the Kansas City Public Schools – and one member of the school board says that’s given the district a seat at the table.

John Fierro has been the chairman of the government relations committee since he was elected to the school board three years ago.

“Our reputation in Jefferson City has improved significantly,” Fierro says. “(Before) you would hear the stories about, ‘Oh, they can’t get along, the board is disruptive, they can’t keep a superintendent.’”

Volunteers read the names of 2018 homicide victims Saturday night at the AdHoc Group Against Crime’s vigil.

Across the metro, there have been 208 homicides this year, according to AdHoc's accounting. In Kansas City, Missouri, there were 133 homicides as of Friday, Dec. 28, the last time the Kansas City Police Department updated its crime statistics website. Less than half have been cleared.

The Lee’s Summit R-7 school board is considering a plan that moves about 800 of the district’s 18,000 students to different schools next year.

Conversations about school boundary changes are always fraught. When schools are overcrowded and someone has to move, no one wants it to be their kid.

So tensions were already high when race and equity became part of the discussion.

A software glitch in the Kansas City Public Schools online application made it hard for some families to enroll Tuesday.

Because the district fills seats at its signature schools in the order applications are received, some parents were online at 6 a.m. when the application opened to ensure their child would get into a preferred school next year. Juanita, whose last name KCUR is not using because she is undocumented, was one of those parents.

Starting Monday, families living within Kansas City Public Schools boundaries can apply to 16 charter schools with a common application.

“Parents don’t have to go to four different schools and fill out four separate applications,” Latresse Yarbough, the chief operating officer for Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, said. “We really want to show the unity between charter schools and the ease of the application.”

The University of Missouri-Kansas City, as well as the other three campuses in the UM System, will extend buyout offers to tenured faculty nearing retirement age, it was announced Friday.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can to alleviate any financial pressure,” MU spokesman Christian Basi said, though he was “not ready to speculate” on whether more layoffs would be coming if too few employees took buyouts.

Some of the parent teachers associations in the Shawnee Mission School District are fundraising machines, but not Rosehill Elementary.

“We don’t necessarily have the connections at our school to bring in extra fun rides or extra huge auction items,” said Megan Peters, one of the PTA parents at Rosehill.

Once a week, Waynesville High School in south-central Missouri resounds with the celebratory air of a football game. The marching band has just completed a lap of the hallways, blaring the school’s theme song, “Eye of the Tiger.”

This school rocks with spirit, even though most of its 1,500 students didn’t grow up in Waynesville, and most of them won’t be staying long.

The president of the Missouri State Board of Education said he’d be willing to consider full accreditation for the Kansas City Public Schools as soon as spring 2019.

The district, which has been provisionally accredited since 2014, scored enough points under the state’s accountability rules to qualify it for full accreditation two years ago. It was the first time that had happened in 30 years, but the education commissioner at the time wanted more – show us sustained progress, she said.

Chronically absent students are more likely to come to school if treated with compassion than threatened with truancy.

That’s what a national expert on attendance policy said Monday at an absenteeism summit for educators convened by the United Way of Greater Kansas City.

The first Kansas City charter school for girls only has worked out a deal with Hogan Preparatory Academy to open next year in its elementary building at 17th and Van Brunt.  

Meanwhile Hogan Preparatory Academy Elementary will move to 2803 E. 51st Street, which is closer to the middle and high school.

For months, Missouri education officials warned schools that new math and English language arts tests would be harder and scores would drop.

Now preliminary data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education suggests those drops are going to be significant.

Young voters ages 18 to 24 are the least likely to vote in midterm elections – just 16 percent of them cast ballots in 2014.

Frida Sanchez wants to change that. For months, the 19-year-old Johnson County Community College student has been registering other young people to vote.

“These kids want to feel included but also don't want to get involved,” Sanchez said. “And I think they just need a push.”

But Sanchez can't actually vote Nov. 6.

The personal is political

For students who speak a language other than English at home, it can take years to learn English well enough to pass tests at school.

For refugee students – many of whom never went to school – it can take even longer.

As Missouri school districts await state test scores they should have received months ago, some administrators said they're getting frustrated with the delay.

“I don’t have the data right now for math and reading to even make a determination as to whether the things we invested in last year are making a difference,” Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell said.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City will no longer sponsor charter schools after the 2018-19 school year.

The decision affects eight charter schools that together serve more than 5,000 students. Two of the schools, the Academy for Integrated Arts and University Academy, were quick to announce they were in talks with the Missouri Charter Public School Commission, an independent sponsor that gets its funding from the state.

Lee’s Summit Superintendent Dennis Carpenter is urging residents of the district to “believe the data” that shows significant achievement gaps between students of color and their white peers.

Originally the district wanted to bring in a diversity consultant to speak to the school board at their Oct. 3 meeting, but the proposed training roiled Lee’s Summit parents participating in an online discussion group. Last week they asked the school board to back up the superintendent’s assertion that white students were outperforming students of color with data.

Parents whose kids attend Lee’s Summit schools are growing increasingly frustrated with the school board and superintendent as tensions escalate over issues of equity and race.

It was standing room only Tuesday night as parents demanded the Board of Education justify the need for professional development from a particular diversity consultant.

Kansas public schools will see $27 million from the U.S. Department of Education to improve literacy for all kids — including those not yet old enough for school.

It’s likely layoffs will be necessary to pay for what University of Missouri System President Mun Choi outlined as priorities in a speech last week.

That’s according to Board of Curators Chairman David Steelman.

“Some people are going to lose their jobs. There are going to be program cuts, but we’re going to get the money now for the investments this state needs,” Steelman said Wednesday on KCUR’s Up To Date.

Is it preferable to build new schools or renovate old ones?

Should the priority be to minimize the fiscal impact or minimize student disruption as more families move into the district?

Is it important to consider equity of learning environments when making facilities decisions?

These are questions the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District will ask students, parents, teachers and taxpayers at a series of community engagement events this fall.

An Olathe Republican vying for a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives was arrested Thursday and charged with election perjury.

The complaint filed by the Johnson County district attorney’s office alleges Adam T. Thomas, 35, falsified an affidavit to election officials on or about May 31, 2018.

There aren’t enough licensed child care centers in Wyandotte County to serve all working families with young children, according to a community health assessment.

That’s why the Family Conservancy and other community groups are launching the Start Young initiative to improve access to high-quality child care for kids younger than 6.

New routines as school starts can overwhelm kindergarteners, especially if they didn’t go to preschool.

That’s why many Kansas City area school districts try to ease the transition for young students with summer programs.

Cafeteria workers at Center Middle School are getting ready to cook up protein-rich breakfasts when kids come back on Wednesday.

“So this here is our egg muffin,” says Marjorie Rice, the kitchen lead at Center Middle School. “What this consists of is peppers and cheese and egg, and it’s a full serving of protein. We cook that, and it puffs up like a muffin, and then we wrap it and it goes into the bag with either salsa or hot sauce.”

Turns out, the hot sauce is pretty key to getting kids to eat the breakfasts.

Mayor Sly James is ready to fight for a 3/8-cent sales tax to improve access to quality preschool in Kansas City.

“Only 35 percent of the kids in this city are engaged in quality pre-K. We have 40 percent of zip codes in deserts where there is no quality pre-K,” James said Monday on KCUR’s Up To Date.

Pages