Board Watchers from Do the Right Thing for Kids con­tin­ue to observe Kansas City Public School Board Meetings and report to the pub­lic our sense of what this “snap­shot” con­veys about the school district’s efforts at turn­around.  Thus we have enlarged our focus beyond the board to the over­all school sys­tem as it attempts to deal with its loss of accred­i­ta­tion.   “Depressing” was the word one watch­er used to describe the March 14, 2012 School Board Meeting.   Data con­tin­ue to indi­cate stu­dent per­for­mance far below state stan­dards in most areas.  While there are a few bright spots, to which the admin­is­tra­tion draws atten­tion, the stu­dents are not learn­ing at the lev­el they have a right to expect.   Only Board President Airick West voiced alarm when he com­ment­ed on the data from acu­ity tests pre­dict­ing dis­mal results on the April MAP test.

Efforts at improve­ment are under way in such areas as teacher train­ing, per­for­mance assess­ment and rewards.  These worth­while efforts could, over time, lead to incre­men­tal improve­ment.  However, over­com­ing decades of dys­func­tion­al orga­ni­za­tion­al per­for­mance in time to affect the reac­cred­i­ta­tion time­line seems unlike­ly.  One observ­er was aston­ished that these wide­ly accept­ed improve­ment mea­sures had not been put into effect years ago.  Hope is held out that accred­i­ta­tion points suf­fi­cient to achieve pro­vi­sion­al accred­i­ta­tion are with­in reach.  However, the pub­lic needs to under­stand that most if not all of the 4 to 6 points dis­cussed do not demon­strate real aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment, i.e. that chil­dren are real­ly learn­ing.  Instead they refer to types of cours­es offered, adjust­ments in mea­sur­ing atten­dance, etc.  Even the bonus point for aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment does not real­ly demon­strate achieve­ment at sig­nif­i­cant lev­els but rather some improve­ment in sub­stan­dard scores.   Meanwhile, senior staff con­tin­ues to leave, and stu­dents are already leav­ing or seek­ing to be on wait­ing lists to enroll in sur­round­ing dis­tricts.

Do the Right Thing for Kids con­tin­ues to believe strong­ly that mere­ly achiev­ing a mar­gin­al lev­el of pro­vi­sion­al accred­i­ta­tion is total­ly unac­cept­able.  We do not believe that mar­gin­al­ly edu­cat­ed chil­dren should be the goal, even if it gets the adults in the sys­tem off the hot seat.

Some con­tin­ue to place empha­sis on com­mu­ni­ty involve­ment as a means for school dis­trict improve­ment.  As a grass­roots cit­i­zens orga­ni­za­tion itself, Do the Right Thing for Kids cer­tain­ly believes strong­ly in cit­i­zen engage­ment.  However, there is no sub­sti­tute for strong class­room teach­ing sup­port­ed by an effec­tive edu­ca­tion­al orga­ni­za­tion and good lead­er­ship.  These ele­ments have been lack­ing for many years as the dis­trict has been weighed down by spe­cial inter­ests.  We con­tin­ue to sup­port leg­is­la­tion that allows neigh­bor­ing effec­tive, accred­it­ed school dis­tricts to play a strong role in edu­cat­ing the chil­dren who live with­in the cur­rent bound­aries of the Kansas City Public School District.

View the agenda/minutes of this meet­ing
(will open in a new win­dow).

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