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Citizen Watchdog Group Reports on KCMO School District’s Feb. 8 Meeting

Art Credit: KC Education Enterprise | Illustration Credit: 123rf stock image | Logo Credit: Kansas City, Missouri School District

A citizen watchdog group, Do the Right Thing for Kids, has released its report assessing the performance of the Kansas City, Missouri Board of Education’s performance during its Wednesday, Feb. 8, meeting.

You can read the report here: http://tinyurl.com/8x9ecju

The citizens’ summary of the board’s performance?:

“On-going changes in staff appoint­ments and assign­ments con­tinue.  Only two mem­bers of the senior staff have been with the dis­trict for two years. There is a new interim chief aca­d­e­mic offi­cer after the pre­vi­ous one left.

“A num­ber of pro­grams are pro­posed to improve safety and secu­rity. We agree that a safe and secure envi­ron­ment can enhance learn­ing assum­ing effec­tive instruc­tion and cur­ricu­lum are in place.  (We have yet to hear much about edu­ca­tional pro­grams.)  It was men­tioned that the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools have 22 secu­rity offi­cers for 18,000 stu­dents while our District requires 88 secu­rity guards for less than 16,000 students. We won­der why the dis­crep­ancy. Is this symp­to­matic of a school sys­tem in disarray?

“In order to bol­ster accred­i­ta­tion points a “sweep” by tru­ancy offi­cers and other staff resulted in the arrest of a num­ber of tru­ants fol­lowed by calls to their par­ents and deliv­ery of the stu­dents back to school.  It was indi­cated in the meet­ing that most of the stu­dents had left again in a few days. We won­der why that was a sur­prise. As far as we could tell, no pro­grams were devel­oped to keep the stu­dents in school.

“A mem­ber of the audi­ence at the meet­ing men­tioned a con­cern that is shared by board watch mem­bers. The school board con­ducts its “pub­lic” meet­ings as if they were in pri­vate, not in a fish­bowl. There is no inter­ac­tion with the observers; in fact, there is almost no acknowl­edge­ment that oth­ers are present, cer­tainly no dia­logue.  People feel iso­lated from the board.

“Other obser­va­tions about the func­tion­ing of the District:

“There has been a regroup­ing of Standards Based Learning stu­dents to grade level shuf­fling teach­ers, stu­dents and peers to pre­pare for State tests.  One teacher reported that she has expe­ri­enced 12 dif­fer­ent changes this year.  Teachers are being told to focus on the tests in hopes of reach­ing an accred­i­ta­tion standard.

“The day after the meet­ing the Human Resources Department noti­fied Head Start teach­ers that they will not have jobs next year; slots will be filled by per­sons with asso­ciate degrees.

“Some $25,000,000 in con­sent item expen­di­tures was moved on to the next board meet­ing agenda for vote/approval.  No expla­na­tion is given for these items but the pub­lic can go on the dis­trict web­site, look at the agenda for the upcom­ing meet­ing and find a page for each item.  A brief sum­mary of the item is accom­pa­nied by a list­ing of how the item impacts the tran­si­tion plan and var­i­ous poli­cies.  Since there is no longer a bud­get and finance com­mit­tee to dig more deeply into the expen­di­tures, a high level of trust in the admin­is­tra­tion is required.  We hope that the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion war­rants the trust; past staff has not.”

If you would like to find out more about Do the Right Thing for kids, the KC Education Enterprise published a story last August with information about who they are and what they do: http://tinyurl.com/5ruawxv

Also, if you would like to subscribe to their monthly reports, here is a link to their e-mail subscription page:http://tinyurl.com/6avsyk7
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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.

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