There is a public hearing this evening to be conducted by Missouri lawmakers, who may consider attempts to bring change to the Kansas City, Missouri school district’s governance structure. According to the Kansas City Star, the joint House-Senate committee will take public comments on the issue at the Bruce Watkins Cultural Heritage Center starting at 5:30 p.m.
Control of school districts can become a touchy issue, one that touches the emotions of parents and raises the ire of community activists. Yet when a public school system fails – thoroughly and consistently over long periods of time – to educate children in its charge, then public officials are compelled to consider bringing real change to the system.
Currently, the district is in the middle of a two year collaboration program with the state to turn around the district, but maintains its autonomy. There may or may not be any overt discussion of a takeover this evening. But you can bet it will be on people’s minds, as it potentially looms on the horizon of the future.
A state takeover could be good for the KCMO district. Ordinarily, I’m strongly in favor of local control of school districts. However, in this case, local control has proven not to serve the best interests of children. It’s the kids we should be most focused on – not whether some school board bureacrat has his or her fiefdom disturbed.
I don’t recall whether state lawmakers conducted similar public hearings preceding the state takeover of the SLPS district (St. Louis, Missouri), but if not they’ll want to be aware and brace themselves for how raucous such forums can potentially become.
Here’s an example, courtesy Antonio French of PubDef. At about 5 minutes in the crowd, while still yelling, begins to physically approach meeting participants. At about 5:30, a young ring leader shoves a police officer – and gets maced in return.