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Second Thoughts: High School Rankings Revisited

Lincoln College Prepatory Academy

A couple of years ago, when I started publishing the KC Education Enterprise, I dashed off a little article about some local entries on a national list of “America’s Best High Schools.”

At the time, I was new to blogging and thought of such posts as ephemeral. But this story is like a ghost. It continues to haunt me.

Every time I check my readership statistics and see that people are still reading about the area’s “Six Best High Schools,” I feel dissatisfied with my work and want to add some nuances I missed at the time.

So here goes.

As a lifelong resident of the KC metro area, I’m proud of the quality learning and teaching taking place at a couple of our urban high schools. And I think it’s a given that students in our more affluent suburban districts will succeed academically.

However, I would like to see the day when more urban institutions are able to make lists such as Newsweek’s “Americas’ Best High Schools,” not just schools with the ability to select students with the best grades and behavior.

I’d also like to see the day when school funding does not depend on the value of homes in the district and is focused, rather, on students’ learning needs. Then, maybe, academic success won’t be so highly correlated with parental income.

I have to admit that when I published my original story, I chose to photograph Lincoln Prep, because one of my daughter’s friends — a bright, talented, beautiful child — had just been accepted there, and I was happy for her.

“Your friend is lucky to go to such a wonderful school,” I told my daughter.

To which my daughter replied in a somewhat bored tone, “I know. I know. You already told me.”

It occurs to me that we should all be as bored with the “Best High Schools” lists as my daughter was with my repeating her classmate’s good news. It was and is good news. But it’s boring good news.

Here’s what would be really interesting: a “best of” list including Kansas City, Missouri’s East, Northeast and Central high schools … a “best of” list including Kansas City, Kansas’ Schlagle, Harmon, Washington and Wyandotte high schools. I’d like to see “best of” list including all of our bright, talented beautiful children.

Not just some of them.

If you missed my original article, “Six Area High Schools Rank Among Best in the U.S.,” you can find it HERE.


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The KC Education Enterprise has a new sister site, KC Education Research Updates, with occasional news from researchers and neuroscientists of interest to educators.

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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: Six Area High Schools Rank Among Best in the U.S. | KC Education Enterprise - May 13, 2013

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