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Historic School Closures Approved in Missouri

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This is a follow-up story to Tuesday’s report on the imminent closure of dozens of schools in Kansas City, Missouri.

The vote couldn’t have been any closer. But by a 5-4 margin in front of a standing room only crowd, the Kansas City School District board voted to close almost half of its schools.

SchoolBus

Parents with children attending school can’t wait five years for improvement.

In addition to the closures and laying off approximately 700 of 3,000 employees, including 285 teachers, “teachers at six other low-performing schools will be required to reapply for their jobs, and the district will try to sell its downtown central office,” says an Associated Press report by Heather Hollingsworth on March 11, 2010.

The crowd was restless. Kansas City Councilwoman Sharon Sanders Brooks reported that some housing developers are contemplating abandoning building projects. Some folks called for the superintendent’s ousting, while a woman asked the gathered throng, “Is anyone else ready to homeschool their children?”

It’s not a bad recommendation given the situation the school district finds itself in. At the time of this writing, the Associated Press report has generated over 1600 comments from readers, many of them teachers blaming parents and, others, parents blaming teachers. One commenter wrote, “You can’t keep supporting something that is not working. Close what you have to and cut personnel as necessary, but start at the most wasteful end — administration.”

Another added, “Occasionally adults have to step up and say, ‘We were headed in the wrong direction, now we have to change direction.’ Can change be difficult and fraught with uncertainty? Of course. But doing nothing or proceeding down the same path expecting a better result is worse.”

Meanwhile, Superintendent John Covington says, “A trimmer, more efficient school district will take shape. The community ‘will beam with pride where their schools have come.’ In five years, we will look like a very different school district.” The statement was reported by Kansas City Star’s Joe Robertson.

Parents with children attending school can’t wait five years for improvement, especially when the starting place is in a district with “chronically abysmal test scores.”

As similar closures occur across the country due to shrinking budgets, more and more parents are going to need to rethink where and how their children’s education occurs. I’m certain many are looking at this as a crisis. My message to them would be to see this as opportunity, instead. It’s an opportunity to step outside of the system and help their children experience education instead of schooling.

I encourage those who already enjoy homeschooling to double your efforts at advocacy and reach out to affected parents. Help them see that the factory model under which the current system functions is unnecessary and obsolete. Who knows? Maybe one day the taxpayers will actually thank you.

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2 Responses to “Historic School Closures Approved in Missouri”

  1. I believe you are 100% right! Parents aren't going to wait. At least not the parents who actually care about educating their children. The parents that the teachers and state school workers complain about are NOT the type of parents that really care much about education. They are generally in it for the entitlement. They'll wait around until the school district gets its act together, then send their kids where they're told to send them.

    But I'm betting that there will be an even greater shedding of some of the "brighter" students come next year.

    Indiana is finding itself in a similar situation, but since we have had generally conservative leadership for awhile, our schools don't seem to be in as bad a shape. Still… they're thinking of closing some of the worse ones.

    I'll forward a link to this article to our statewide homeschooling list. We've been Helping Hoosiers Homeschool for about a decade now, and it looks like we're going to start seeing a new wave.

    Thanks Linda!

    Ben Bennett

    Project Director, Indiana Home Educators' Network

  2. Thank you, Ben. The more homeschoolers who realize the significance of this, the better we can help those who will inevitably turn to homeschooling as an alternative to waiting for things to get better in the government school system. I sure as heck wouldn't be waiting around.

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