Reimagining Education

The Future of KCMSD Still Undecided

Kate Casas, State Director, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri

The big item on the State Board of Education’s agenda at its meeting on December 1 and 2 was the future of KCMSD, which is scheduled to become unaccredited on January 1, 2012.

Many had speculated that Commissioner Chris Nicastro would recommend a change in the current governance structure of the District. However, Nicastro instead told the State Board that she was not going to make any recommendations at this time. She gave two reasons for this decision:

  1. There has not been a clear consensus about the future of KCMSD from the Kansas City community. She feels that any effort to “fix” KCMSD through a change in governance has to come from those who live and work in the district in order for it to be effective. (You can see all 500+ comments from the public that lead her to this conclusion here)
  2. Missouri State Statute provides for a two-year “transition” period before the State Board of Education can legally mandate any change in governance. (To see a full transcript of her remarks go here)

As a result of these two things, Nicastro suggested that Kansas City Mayor Sly James (who has also asked that governance of KCMSD be given to him) continue to convene all KCMSD stakeholders so they may quickly come to a consensus about the best way to get the district on the right track. (To read Mayor James’ letter to Nicastro asking for control of KMCSD, click here)

Additionally, Nicastro said the State Board and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education need to focus on changing the law that requires a two year transition period between the loss of accreditation and a any additional action related to governance by the State Board. She would like for the State Board to be able to set its own timeline for altering the governance of an unaccredited school.

Members of the State Board of Education commended Nicastro for not acting on emotion and showing real leadership in the face of mounting calls for to do something.

The Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri agrees with Commissioner Nicastro that the citizens of Kansas City need to be focused on creating a solution to their abysmal public school system; however, we hope that she isn’t willing to wait two years, if consensus isn’t reached. The children of KCMSD have been failed by this system for decades and deserve the kind of leadership that is willing to make bold, even if unpopular, decisions.

 

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