Barbara Shelly


Kansas City, Mo.

Barbara Shelly

Now: Freelance reporter, writer, editor. Contributing writer for KCUR public radio and Recently: Columnist, opinion writer for Kansas City Star.
Specialties: Schools and higher education, Missouri and Kansas government and politics, health care, consumer issues.



At Year's End, Hickman Mills Teachers Lament Missed Students And Missed Opportunities

The tipping point may have come in late January, when yet another quick-tempered boy moved into Aubrey Paine’s second grade classroom at Ingels Elementary School. Or maybe it was the departure in early February of the bright, motivated little girl who had been the leader of a reading circle. As winter gave way to spring, the change in in the student roster came so fast I barely recognized the happy classroom I’d first walked into in September.
KCUR 89.3FM Link to Story

Here's How Hickman Mills Became A Forgotten Community In Kansas City

Starting in the 1990s, Hickman Mills became a forgotten community. Middle-income families moved out. Blight moved in. Drive through the neighborhoods today and the symbols of disinvestment are everywhere – gutters falling off houses, trash in yards, payday loan shops where stores used to be. “It’s just strictly rental there now and nobody takes care of the yards.
KCUR 89.3FM Link to Story

Kris Kobach sets out to fill Kansas’ coming Brownback void — and enlarge the state’s woes

For all of a week, Kansas basked in the narrative of being the state that had seen the light. Thanks to action by its Legislature, Gov. Sam Brownback’s failed tax-cut experiment was finally history. Kansas had shown a perplexed nation that some leaders had remembered how to place common sense and quality of life ahead of ideology.
The Pitch Link to Story

The Apprentice: In Eric Greitens, Missouri has a Trump (and a Trump problem) of its own

Here’s Missouri’s new governor in D.C., hobnobbing with the super-rich and the famous. Here he is in his state Capitol, berating lawmakers of his own party. Now he’s down in southern Missouri, bashing “insiders and politicians” while shamelessly politicking. He’s on Twitter. He’s on Facebook. Eric Greitens is everywhere.
The Pitch Link to Story

Wright Career College will end up stiffing most of the students it took advantage of

In 2014, the Humphrey, Farrington & McClain law firm, in Independence, began assembling complaints from students who had attended Wright Career College. The stories eventually assembled were typical of persons who have enrolled in any of the profit-seeking schools that exist to rake in grants and loans available to low-income students.
The Pitch Link to Story

For This Hickman Mills Mom And Her Son, Elementary School Is A Hope For Stability

Kaily Ross rocked a baby stroller as she talked to the staffers who run the after-school program at Ingels Elementary School in the Hickman Mills district. Could her older son, the 3rd grader she was enrolling in the LINC program that day, still get in the flag football activity? What else did they offer?
KCUR 89.3FM Link to Story

As Families Come And Go, Hickman Mills School Administrators Power Through

It is late morning, and Barb Wunsch limps a bit as she emerges from her office in the enrollment area of the Hickman Mills School District. Twice already she’s banged her knee on the corner of her desk in the process of jumping up to cope with a new situation. Outside of her office, at least a dozen people sit at tables.
KCUR 89.3FM Link to Story

Sam Brownback at Christmas: the lonely governor with so much to give the rest of America

Sam Brownback’s holiday gift to the hardworking Kansas statehouse press corps is the end-of-the year sit-down he grants reporters, who are invited individually or in pairs to his inner-office sanctum. There, like an understuffed Santa, the sweater-clad governor dispenses a bag full of excuses, falsehoods, underwhelming plans and promises he can’t keep.
The Pitch Link to Story

KC's CFPB hearing on payday lending today a reminder just who keeps defending an indefensible industry

The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau couldn’t have picked a better spot than Kansas City for a hearing on payday lending. Friends and foes have been dug in for years, and Thursday’s forum, at the Music Hall, brought everybody out of the trenches. Critics began massing at Barney Allis Plaza around 9 a.m.
The Pitch Link to Story

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback can't hide from his false promises

The governor’s office in Kansas’ ornate statehouse is one of the loneliest places in America right now. Republican Sam Brownback’s approval rating in perhaps the nation’s reddest state is down to 21 percent, according to Fort Hays State University. The Legislature is in rebellion. Even conservative lawmakers are scrambling to put distance between themselves and the governor.
The Pitch Link to Story

Gov. Sam Brownback’s food stamp experiment isn’t working as well as allies contend

Sam Brownback is talking up another of his Kansas experiments. Others prefer to describe it as “kicking people off of food stamps.”. Brownback touted the report at a news conference Thursday. Kansas, he said, would become a nationwide model. Articles appearing on conservative websites are predicting the same thing.
The Kansas City Star Link to Story

A letter to Jonathan Butler, the University of Missouri hunger striker

Because of you, the University of Missouri will never be the same. I say that even though you have not at this moment achieved a stated goal of your hunger strike, the removal or departure of university system President Tim Wolfe. That will happen, and soon, I think. Your act of non-violent protest, now in its sixth day, and the solidarity of your fellow students, have shaken Wolfe, university Chancellor R.
The Kansas City Star Link to Story


Barbara Shelly

I am a veteran journalist and writer based in Kansas City, Mo. My gigs at the Kansas City Star included editorial writer, opinion columnist, metro columnist, police reporter and City Hall reporter.

Now I’m on my own, still voicing opinions and still looking for good stories. I am a contributing writer at The Pitch and seeking other outlets. I specialize in writing about craziness in Kansas and Missouri state governments, schools and colleges and health care.

My interests: bikes, beer, biographies, family, friends, cats and kids. I have traveled on five continents and like Africa best, but I’m flexible. I have a great front porch in Kansas City’s Waldo neighborhood.



  • analysis
  • Editing
  • Writing
  • Reporting