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Mayoral Control of KCMO Schools Might Work. Then Again, It Might Not.

Art Credit: KC Education Enterprise - Photo of Mayor Sly James: Kansas City, Mo. - Stock Photo: 123rf

It’s a question of leadership, according to educational policy expert Frederick M. Hess.

Now that Mayor Sly James has proposed mayoral control of the Kansas City, Missouri School District … and state Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro seems to be considering his proposal (and others) … the question is, “Could it work?”

Some cities with troubled urban schools have put their mayors in charge. However, Hess — who is director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute — says it is difficult to make claims for how well mayoral control works, because not much research has been done on how this form of governance impacts student achievement.

Several years ago, Hess published a summary and analysis of existing research regarding mayoral control, in which he discusses pros and cons of elected versus appointed school boards. His conclusion was that either form of control could work, so long as there is strong continuous leadership. He also provides interesting information about the history of school board leadership, which early 20th-century Progressives instituted to remove districts from the realm of politics.


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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.



  1. Pingback: Update on Status of Kansas City, Missouri School District « KC Education Enterprise - December 2, 2011

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