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.



The Goodbye Kids

For a full 2016-17 academic year, KCUR contributor Barbara Shelly immersed herself in a second grade and a fourth grade classroom in the Hickman Mills School District to learn firsthand how 'churn' affects students and their education. The frequency with which students change schools during the academic year is a significant but under-the radar aspect of education.
KCUR 89.3FM Link to Story

Who’s to blame for UMKC’s Crossroads Conservatory debacle?

The orchestra pit at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s White Recital Hall is so shallow that recently a lanky conductor’s head kept popping into view during a performance. That’s just scratching the surface of the hall’s deficiencies, says Diane Helfers Petrella, interim dean of the Conservatory of Music and Dance.
The Pitch Link to Story

Eric Greitens Sounds A Lot Like Another Politician Accused Of Sexual Assault

With reporters jammed into his office and members of his legislature about to release a devastating report about him, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Wednesday proclaimed himself the target of a witch hunt. He’d been smeared, he said. The report from a House investigative committee, which he hadn’t seen yet, was certain to be filled with lies, falsehoods and “one-sided tabloid trash.”.
The Huffington Post Link to Story

Is this finally the end for Eric Greitens?

In the Biblical version, Samson — who could no doubt teach Governor Eric Greitens a thing or two about proper pull-ups — is emasculated by a temptress who figures out the source of his superhuman strength lies in his long hair. She cuts it off, and Samson ends up on the wrong end of a prison mill grinder.
The Pitch Link to Story

Faith And Love

Churchgoers at a tidy, white-steepled United Methodist Church in Carrollton, Missouri, heard a frank admission from their guest pastor one spring morning in 2007. “When asked to preach this Sunday, I almost said no,” Priscilla Wood Neaves told the congregation. Not because I lacked training and experience, and I have always enjoyed preaching.”.

The Cost of Churn: Evictions Hinder Classroom Progress for Kids

Tameko Davison’s children were well into the routine of a school year when turmoil intervened in the form of an eviction notice. Davison fell behind on payments, and the gas was shut off to her government-subsidized apartment in Kansas City. That violated a Kansas City Housing Authority rule and caused her to lose her rent voucher.

The Inside Job

The Marlborough Community Coalition’s Facebook page recently featured a newspaper story documenting the surprising luxury housing and commercial development boom taking place a few miles north in Kansas City’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. The story was accompanied by a message: “Change can happen!”. In fact, a different kind of change already is happening in Marlborough, the long-struggling portion of Kansas City roughly bounded by Gregory Boulevard and 89th Street and Troost Avenue and U.S.

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


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