First the Kansas City School District lost the Superintendant and Board President over a spat, then word that the pathetic four of fourteen state standards they were meeting had been knocked down to three of fourteen, and now (not surprisingly) the state has stripped the KCSD of their accreditation.
The school district has been in dire straits for over a decade, having only re-gained a provisional accreditation in 2002 after over two years without, closing almost half of the schools in recent years due to a budget disaster, and the aforementioned exodus of the powers-that-be over the summer.
When taking all of these circumstances into account, the writing really was on the wall.
Though not entirely unexpected, the move was a painful return to reality for the city after a period of optimism that difficult choices were finally being made to confront longstanding problems in the school district…
“We’ve given Kansas City more time than maybe we should have to address the problems,” said Chris L. Nicastro, the state education commissioner, who had recommended the move.
The decision is effective beginning January 1st. Some local pundits are predicting a mass exodus of students from the school district to charter and private schools or to schools in neighboring districts, exasperating the problem. Compounding that problem further, the cost of students who move to nearby districts will have to be covered by the KCSD, on top of the fact that Kansas City’s metro-area districts are at capacity already.
Kansas City was one of eighteen districts the state considered stripping accreditation from, but was inevitably the only district they singled out for punishment; a sign of just how bad things are. (St. Louis has been unaccredited since 2007, and a lawsuit is pending there that could complicate things in Kansas City even further.)
The school district will have two full school years to get its act together, meaning they have until June of 2014 to turn things around before the state steps in and either takes over or dissolves the district completely. Although, if recent history is any indication, things will not be pretty.
Full accreditation requires nine of the fourteen standards be met, and provisional accreditation requires six. Sitting at three right now, and on a downward trend, the prospects don’t exactly look promising.
But every action requires an equal and opposite reaction, right?
Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, which has advised the school district, was taken aback by the decision. “I think things have settled down and the reforms continue apace in Kansas City, so I’m not quite sure what the rationale was for their decision.”
Ignorance truly must be bliss.
So now the children of the KCSD, caught in the middle of this city-sized mess, are learning important lessons on bliss every day as ignorance spreads through the school district like wildfire.
And with such rampant ignorance and hard-to-swallow issues becoming the norm, is there any argument that the new motto of the KCSD should be “Bliss and Vinegar”?