Welcome to Set the Schools Free, a Kansas City public education blog

This blog is an outgrowth of a January 2016 op-ed I wrote for the Kansas City Star:  “Kansas City District Should Decentralize and Set the Schools Free”.

In that op-ed I made the argument that Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) can’t truly compete with our growing public charter school sector as long as key decisions affecting KCPS schools continue to be made by the Central Office, far from the students and families the schools serve.

School autonomy is, consequently, a central idea of Set the Schools Free.  I believe decisions affecting students – staffing, curriculum, resource allocation – are best made at the school level.

I like the public charter school model because it offers this school-level autonomy and empowers parents, school leaders and teachers. But I’m not convinced that a 100% charter school district is in the best interest of Kansas City’s families and students.

I’m concerned, however, that that this fragmented, all-charter district is exactly the direction we’re headed if KCPS continues on its current path.

K-12 Enrollment Revised

Fewer families are enrolling in KCPS schools. And with the opening of four new charter elementary schools next year, the expansion of several existing charter schools and a new charter high school opening in 2018, KCPS will soon serve less than half of all public school students.

Like it or not, our public education landscape is changing.

I believe there’s a middle path between an all-KCPS and all-charter district – one that captures the strengths of a centrally-coordinated school system while taking advantage of the flexibility and autonomy of the charter school model. A system better equipped to serve all families well.

But finding this middle path requires looking beyond the politics and constraints of our current school system to develop a vision for what public education in Kansas City can be.

It also requires thoughtful analysis and discussion based on facts (data).

I hope to offer both through Set the Schools Free.  I’ll be doing all of the posting initially, but over time I hope others will join me to share their ideas, perspectives and analysis.

What’s your vision for public education in Kansas City?


2 thoughts on “Welcome to Set the Schools Free, a Kansas City public education blog”

  1. I like the idea of a middle path both economically and politically.
    I also found your math series compelling reading

    Would you please reference me your previous writings on this

    Thank you!

    1. Cathie, thanks for your comment. Aside from the January op-ed, this blog is my first attempt at writing about education for a public audience. I hope to post additional content every two to three weeks. Though sometimes this might stretch to four – I have kids:) If you’re looking for additional reading suggestions on education, I’d be happy to recommend some. Please feel free to email me at settheschoolsfree[at]gmail[dot]com.

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