• Both Kansas City Public School Board meet­ings in July were dom­i­nat­ed by con­ver­sa­tion about the One-to-One pro­gram that gives every stu­dent in the dis­trict a lap­top com­put­er. Investigation of this ini­tia­tive began in February. By June, admin­is­tra­tors had devel­oped the RFP, select­ed the Huntsville, Alabama School District as their pro­to­type and Pearson as the soft­ware provider. The dig­i­tal con­ver­sion from text­books to com­put­ers appeared to be ready to begin.

    At the work­shop meet­ing, a detailed 4-pronged process of how the project was being imple­ment­ed was described. On paper it looked as though months had gone into the plan­ning with par­ents duly debriefed by the open­ing of school and all teach­ers on board and assigned to plan­ning teams.

    Andrea Flinders, AFT President, took the floor and pre­sent­ed a very dif­fer­ent pic­ture of the upcom­ing dig­i­tal con­ver­sion. The teach­ers had not been ade­quate­ly involved and, in effect, would not have the nec­es­sary train­ing suf­fi­cient to imple­ment this new tech­nol­o­gy in the fall despite the pro­grammed 2½ days of pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment on the use of cur­ricu­lum. So the linch­pin, the cen­tral and cohe­sive unit is miss­ing: the teacher buy-in.

    At the July 24 busi­ness meet­ing, Ms. Flinders and par­ent Pam Kingsley warned of the pit­falls, need for more plan­ning, more stu­dent and fac­ul­ty involve­ment, and beta tests. The admin­is­tra­tive respond­ed that they were already plan­ning to deal with the issues laid out by Ms. Flinders and Ms. Kingsley.

    An effec­tive orga­ni­za­tion con­tem­plat­ing an invest­ment and major change of this mag­ni­tude would be uti­liz­ing expert con­sul­tants, not ven­dors, who had suc­cess­ful­ly imple­ment­ed such projects before.

  • The admin­is­tra­tion pre­sent­ed an update on a series of planned repairs and new facil­i­ties total­ing up to $125 mil­lion based on the assump­tion that enroll­ment will be grow­ing as more fam­i­lies gain faith in the “new” school dis­trict. There was no men­tion of more char­ters, wait­ing lists for trans­fers, and a pos­si­ble state takeover. The board always asks and is rou­tine­ly assured that these expen­di­tures will improve aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment.
  • The con­sent agen­da con­tained expen­di­tures total­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars with lit­tle or no expla­na­tion of the items. It is hoped that the board is care­ful­ly exam­in­ing those requests pri­or to the meet­ings.

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