Sunday, March 14, 2010
Kansas City To Close Nearly Half It's Schools: "Where Do We Go From Here At The End Of The Old Struggle?"
Beliefnet: Why Did Kansas City Schools Fail?
Wall Street Journal: Kansas City Schools: Decision to Shutter Dozens of Kansas City Schools Marks Major Shift After Reliance on Court-Ordered Special Funding
Over the past few decades the school district of Kansas City has been a major point of racial conflict and resulting court battles. The activists who drove the court action fought for increased school funding and for busing across school board boundaries. With a favorable court ruling in hand the federal judge drove more than $2B be spent to improve the physical plant of the schools. They also initiated a program to recruit White kids from external school districts so that Black students can have the "honor" of sitting in class next to them, with the hopes that the Blacks will learn via the osmossis that takes place by having Whites to disrupt the patterns that occur when a classroom is all-Black. This last sentence might include a bit of editorializing but shamefully it captures the behavior of the activists quite acurately.
After the federal court mandate has run its course that which can loosely be caputred as "people over profits" with regards to the court order desegreation attempt has failed. At a time where we see a national erosion of funds into state coffers - such lofty goals have shown that they are indeed subject to the whims of a net positive treasury balance in the government systems who ultimately have to implement these rulings on behalf of the "people".
My hope is that the transformed school systems that will no doubt result in Kansas City and so many other places in America who are being slammed by the shrinking of organic (non-government) growth in the economy will develop a more coherent "inside - out" approach to delivering quality education.
The people who have the greatest impact upon the product of the schools are all of the adults that interact with the school and who craft the culture within the school building, particularly the culture that walks through the door every morning at 8:15am.
The failure of the Kansas City plan is that it focused upon the school edifice and worked up a "build it and they will learn" meme. The lesson learned from KC is that beyond a certain minimum level of standards for the edifice - quality education is expressed by the human beings inside the classroom. Those with the knowledge that is to be transferred. The others who must be of the mindset to focus upon the agent of knowledge. The adult parents who serve as managers for the educational career of their own children and those in their community play an indispensible role.
It is clear that the injection of race and claims of racism was a battle that obfuscated the basic point about the education process. While acknowledging that past acts of blatant discrimination in which Black students were treated to a second class education - the inverse in which the government propped up the funding in attempts to provide the material accoterments of a "first class education" did not prove successful.
In summary too many of the adults who engaged in racial combat in Kansas City got too far away from the basics in the education process and thus away from the children. No doubt there were some who told the students that they should be thankful to the efforts of the activists for bring forth the material goods for education. Still others who were resentful of this order sat by on their perch waiting for the day that they would be "proven right" while doing everything in their power to be proven so.
The key point that appears to be missing in Kansas City and other places is the sense of PURPOSE for the education process. The basic question of: "Why should I as a student take the extra effort to obtain good grades and display hunger for knowledge?" appears to have been left unanswered.
In my framing of the constructs of the "Community Cultural Consciousness and COMPETENCE Domain" the goal is to leverage the educational system as the key resource that must be managed so that the human resources within the community is serving in its role of developing the minds of the people who will later be professional service agents in the community. They are the key forces that will uphold and maintain the desired standard of living that is sought by the community.
After a baseline set of civil rights protections are established I believe it to be a mistake to continue on an outwardly focused track. As long as the school buildings are not being torched deliberate underfuning done for racial motivations in the same district then it is necessary for a district to adopt an "We all we got" sense of reality about their situation. At this time they need to impress upon the young people within that their job is to make full use of "what they got" and then sacrafice themselves by reinvesting in the same community so that the generational effects of wealth creation and aggregation can occur.
Some people are experts in history as they tell our people the damaging effects of past suppression of wealth creation than they are competent themselves in the proper ordering of our people alive today who will one day handoff to the next generation the world that they will eventually live within.