This shocking Associated Press headline is ... shocking:
Mass school closures approved in Kansas City, Mo.
And the accompanying story is even more shocking:
Facing potential bankruptcy, the board that governs the once flush-with-cash Kansas City school district is taking the unusual and contentious step of shuttering almost half its schools.White flight. Blockbusting. Redlining. Abandonment. The only thing left out is the name George W. Bush.
Administrators say the closures are necessary to keep the district from plowing through what little is left of the $2 billion it received as part of a groundbreaking desegregation case. The Kansas City school board narrowly approved the plan to close 29 out of 61 schools Wednesday night at a meeting packed with angry parents.
Although other districts nationwide are considering closures as the recession ravages their budgets, Kansas City's plan is striking.
Kansas City Councilwoman Sharon Sanders Brooks said the closure plan had prompted some housing developers to consider backing out of projects.
"The urban core has suffered white flight post-the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. the Board of Education, blockbusting by the real estate industry, redlining by banks and other financial institutions, retail and grocery store abandonment," Brooks said to applause from the standing-room-only crowd.
"And now the public education system is aiding and abetting in the economic demise of our school district," she said. "It is shameful and sinful." [link]
Oh, and the fact that the city that is closing 48% of its schools has lost 76% of its student enrollment.
This from Associated Content:
The problem with Kansas City schools is that they grew too big, too fast. [T]he school district built many new buildings in the 1960s and enrollment peaked at 75,000 students. Today, a mere 18,000 students are enrolled in Kansas City schools, the same level as in 1889, according to the Kansas City Star.Not mentioned anywhere is the real reason(s) for the debacle that has become the Kansas City school system. It's not the economy. It's not Brown v. the Board of Education (which is preposterous). It's not redlining or blockbusting, which by any measure were marginal (and illegal) grounds for the student count to plummet. And it had nothing to do with George W. Bush.
Besides the fact that demographics have changed and movement of households has been into the suburbs for decades, there's this one-word explanation for the District's demise:
More specifically, federal court-ordered busing.
And even more specifically, the takeover of the Kansas City school system by the federal government (actually by a federal district court, however that was allowed to happen), one that administered a judge's slash-and-burn desegregation plan that has resulted in the precipitate decline in enrollment, performance standards, and academic achievement.
Oh, and it has achieved a singular success - the busing plan that was implemented by some liberal do-gooder judge to bring black kids and white kids together and make both prosper has had the opposite effects. As the New York Times puts it, student enrollment, which it pegs at 17,400, is now made up of "mostly black and impoverished" children.
Smooth move, Uncle Sammie.
Lessons to be learned? (1) There's always more to the story than the mainstream press is willing to give you.
(2) The federal government is preparing to do for your health care system what it did
(3) For the love of God, don't let them Kansas City us.
(4) A history lesson, provided by the Cato Institute:
In 1985 a federal district judge took partial control over the troubled Kansas City, Missouri, School District (KCMSD) on the grounds that it was an unconstitutionally segregated district with dilapidated facilities and students who performed poorly. In an effort to bring the district into compliance with his liberal interpretation of federal law, the judge ordered the state and district to spend nearly $2 billion over the next 12 years to build new schools, integrate classrooms, and bring student test scores up to national norms.That last comment made by the man who single-handedly made the school system worse than a prison.
It didn't work. When the judge, in March 1997, finally agreed to let the state stop making desegregation payments to the district after 1999, there was little to show for all the money spent. Although the students enjoyed perhaps the best school facilities in the country, the percentage of black students in the largely black district had continued to increase, black students' achievement hadn't improved at all, and the black-white achievement gap was unchanged.
Years later Judge Clark, an unpretentious man who wore cowboy boots on the bench, would remark that in all his years as a judge he had never seen a prison in as bad shape as the Kansas City schools.
Had the poor children simply been left alone ...
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I wonder why Kansas City Councilwoman Sharon Sanders Brooks didn't mention busing in her diatribe as being a reason for the school district's demise.
Meet Kansas City Councilwoman Sharon Sanders Brooks: