Kansas City needs to have this conversation. Often. We hear a lot about school choice in our news media, but we do not hear enough about what the landscape of school choice has done to our chances of integrating our schools. Too often, we still hear that more choice is needed. We need to hear more about how integrating our schools will improve our entire city. How it will make our community stronger. It will give our kids an equitable education. The discussion does not need to be about choosing the best school. The discussion needs to be about choosing all our schools. We must do better to support the schools that are here and stop the constant churn of opening and closing schools that only feed the mobility issue so many of our families already struggle with. What can we do to support our schools? What can we do to support our families? What can we do to support our community?
Complex Justice: The Case of Missouri v. Jenkins by Joshua M. Dunn
Essential reading to understand the history behind the current climate of Kansas City schools.
Center for Reinventing Public Education: Kansas City – Citywide Education Progress Report
“Key Takeaways: After years of declining district enrollment and low performance at many district and charter schools, confidence in the city’s public education system is starting to return. In the 2016-17 school year, Kansas City Public Schools received a full accreditation score from the state—the first time in 30 years—however, it missed the mark in 2017-18. Some of the charter schools, which comprise about half of the city’s public schools, are among the best in Missouri. However, children have uneven access to high-quality educational opportunities across district and charter schools. City leaders should focus on systemwide improvement by supporting within- and cross-sector coordination, and improved engagement with families.”
The Washington Post: Kansas City’s High Stakes Education Gamble
No one denies that the schools are better academically. North Rock Creek-Korte Elementary School, for example, has been a magnet for three years. Stressing environmental science, it has achieved the 60-40 split and has lured several dozen pupils from outside the district with such features as a science lab with an elaborate weather station, frequent field trips, a large greenhouse with hundreds of plants, extensive before- and after-school programs and a log cabin used variously to demonstrate a slave cabin, a pioneer’s hut or a farm house.
The Pitch: The Long Walk Home
But all these years later, Smith and many of his peers in the black community have come to see the desegregation case as just another means of disenfranchising blacks. “We know now that the magnet system imparted real damage on the African-American community,” he says. “Some today say African-Americans may have been better off to stay segregated with regards to education. The focus was pretty direct in those days.”
Loyola University Chicago Law Journal: Missouri v. Jenkins: The Beginning of the End for Desegregation
A history of segregated Kansas City Public Schools, chronicling the attempts by district courts to desegregate following Brown v. Board, and the Supreme Court ruling that ceased all efforts to integrate Kansas City schools.
KCUR: How School and District Boundaries Shaped Education in Kansas City.
There were great efforts to merge the districts, even resulting in legislative action headed by then Missouri Rep. Jim Spainhower. The Spainhower Commission sought to merge districts across the state in an effort to ensure “equal access to educational opportunity for all children.” Again, the suburban districts and their representatives refused.
NY Times: Kansas City’s Widely Debated Desegregation Experiment Reaches the Supreme Court
For its part, the school system, which wants the desegregation order to remain in effect, will argue that the full desegregation plan has been in place only three years — too little time to show marked academic improvement. Only about a fourth of the city’s schools meet the Federal court’s recommendation that enrollment be 65 percent members of minorities and 35 percent white.
Purpose Built Communities: Kansas City’s Urban Neighborhood Initiative Brings Equity to Wendall Phillips Neighborhood
Why should we care? We should care because we are not a city, we are not a community of people, until all people have the same opportunities and have the same rights.
Kansas City Public Health Connection: Still Separate, Still Not Equal
In Kansas City, we can no longer stand by and accept that some school districts will always be more desirable, that charter schools are the only source of quality education south of the Missouri River and north of 85th street, and that working in “good-faith” is enough.
Flatland KC: Which Schools Are Integrated
…as far as which schools are integrated, you can use the interactive graphic … created with data from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — to draw your own conclusions. The data includes public and charter schools in the Kansas City Public School district from 2015-2016. It covers the three predominant demographic groups for our area. (The map is best viewed on desktop.)
KCUR: Perceptions of Kansas City’s Public High Schools
As some families mobilize to open new high schools in the Kansas City Public School district, district officials are concerned there are already too many.
KCUR: Here’s What It Means When We Talk About Student Churn in Kansas City
Up until now, student mobility has been something of an under-the-radar factor in education policy discussions. In Missouri and Kansas, for instance, mobility rates are not factored into state accountability ratings for public schools. But the steady comings and goings of students during a school year, especially in high-poverty districts, are increasingly a worry for educators. High student mobility — also known as churn — means extra work for teachers, less involvement on the part of parents and anxieties for students.
KCUR: In Kansas City, Education Choices Still Divide Schools By Race
Bottom line, a lot of white families that will send their kids to well-regarded K-8 charters don’t want to enroll them in majority black high schools, which most KCPS neighborhood schools are. That’s a problem when the research shows socioeconomically diverse schools close the achievement gap fastest, Holland says.
Benson Law: School Segregation and Desegregation in Kansas City
On June 12, 1995 the Supreme Court decided Missouri v. Jenkins, 115 S. Ct. 2573 (1995) (Jenkins III). By a five to four majority, the Court held that the Kansas City desegregation plan had been improperly based on “desegregative attractiveness” and “suburban comparability”. This was improper, the Supreme Court held, because the violations in the case had only been intradistrict in nature. Consequently, the remedy could not seek to attract suburban students because that would be an interdistrict remedy, exceeding the bounds of the violation. As a result, the KCMSD ceased recruiting new suburban students but allows those already enrolled to continue in the KCMSD. Meanwhile, the State of Missouri has asked the district court to declare KCMSD unitary, i.e., to find that all vestiges of its prior violation have been eliminated to the extent practicable, and to halt all remedial programs and state desegregation payments to KCMSD.
The Pursuit of Racial and Ethnic Equality in American Public Schools: Mendez, Brown, and Beyond: Missed Opportunities, Enduring Legacies: School Segregation and Desegregation in Kansas City
These issues are particularly significant in Kansas City, Missouri, the site of one of the nation’s most controversial and expansive desegregation orders during the 1980s and 1990s. Racial segregation in housing and schools have been defining features of the Kansas City metropolitan area for over a cen-tury. The Kansas City, Missouri School District (KCMSD) was racially segre-gated from its creation in September 1867. In the ensuing decades, school offi-cials provided separate education facilities for blacks and whites, and the city and metropolitan area developed clearly defined patterns of racial segregation.
KC Star: Kansas City is among the most economically segregated cities in the U.S.
A new study by the Urban Institute says cities where residents are segregated by race and income are not as prosperous as more integrated cities. Kansas City is the fifth most economically segregated city in the study.
UMKC University News: ‘Troost Wall’ the product of Kansas City’s long-running racial plight: Racist real estate practices leave urban decay
I think the African-American middle class has decided to suburbanize because they see that as the path to opportunity, the path to keeping their kids out of the problems of the inner city, which are really problems of concentrated poverty. Until we change how we fund and build neighborhoods, until we shift from subsidizing the construction of new neighborhoods to subsidizing and investing in existing neighborhoods, there’s not going to be an incentive to stay. There is a need for political empowerment of urban neighborhood. The cities in the nation have subsidized suburban development for more than fifty years. It’s time to flip that.
Missouri Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights: School Desegregation in the St. Louis and Kansas City Areas
Recommendation 5: The Advisory Committee urges the General Assembly to establish a commission composed of school executives, experts in school desegregation, and representatives of not-for-profit organizations interested in education and/or civil rights to conduct hearings, collect information, and consider recommendations for State action supporting interdistrict and intradistrict approaches to the reduction of racial isolation. The commission’s investigations should focus not only on education, but also on housing patterns and actions by governments which affect the incidence of school racial isolation.