Hail to the Kansas City chief

More right-sizing in the Midwest. Last week, at the urging of its superintendent, John Covington, the Kansas City (Missouri) school board made the gutsy decision to close nearly half its schools. Since a 1985 court mandate to address the segregation and chronic failure of the district’s schools, Kansas City has attempted to draw students back from surrounding suburban schools by offering attractive amenities such as an Olympic size swimming pool, an indoor track, and a mock trial court. Guess what: It didn’t work, and district enrollment has continued to fall--from 35,000 students to 18,000 over the last decade alone--while already-low achievement has stagnated. With near to empty classrooms and a surfeit of costly facilities, the district is nearly bankrupt. The board’s plan to shutter nearly half of its schools is unprecedented--and a more thoughtful way to save pennies than most other ideas attracting attention these days. We hope that Kansas City implements this project with a shrewder and more sophisticated approach than it did the last.

Mass School Closures Approved in Kansas City, Mo.,” Associated Press, March 11, 2010 

Kansas City to close 26 schools. Unprecedented move in U.S.?” by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, Christian Science Monitor, March 11, 2010

Money and good intentions won’t fix our schools,” by Joshua Dunn, Education Next Blog, March 16, 2010

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