Starting with the same information around integrating Kansas City schools

It’s important we start conversations today around integrating Kansas City schools with the same information. School desegregation reached it’s peak in the US in 1988. In the 1987-88 school year, KCPS received a AAA rating from the state, the highest possible. However since Brown v. Board, a series of subsequent court decisions reduced court oversight and the ability of districts to desegregate.

Among them: decisions that concluded funding did not need to be equal for students within each state; the Milliken v. Bradley decision which blocked metro-wide desegregation plans; and the Missouri v. Jenkins decision that ultimately blocked salary increases for KCPS teachers and staff as well as funding for quality programs.

“The Court agreed with the State’s argument after examining the district court’s goal of crafting the School District into one “equal to or superior to the surrounding” suburban school districts. The Court found that salary increases to employees, instructional employees or otherwise, would make the School District more attractive and contribute to the impermissible goal of inducing non-minorities students from outside the School District to enroll in schools within the District.”
– MO v. Jenkins: The Beginning of the End for Desegregation

Today the public schools in Kansas City, both district and charter, are very segregated both racially and socioeconomically. While the school aged population in Kansas City is close to 30% white, public school enrollment by white families is nearer to 10%. And although district-wide public school enrollment shows 55% of students are low-income, individual school enrollment rates vary widely – a handful of schools enroll under 30% while many others enroll over 70%.

The differences in resources and challenges between these schools is inherently unequal. Privileged segregated schools are proud of their community partnerships, volunteers, parent involvement, and fundraising. But concentrating middle class and affluent families in a few schools directly results in the isolation of low income students in poverty concentrated schools. These schools face many more challenges, including students experiencing trauma from eviction, homelessness, and food insecurity.

Teaching Tolerance: BROWN V. BOARD: Timeline of School Integration in the U.S.: Trace school integration from 1849 to 2007.

Loyola University Chicago Law Journal: Missouri v. Jenkins: The Beginning of the End for Desegregation

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