Choose your own adventure (the public education version)

With charter sector enrollment nearing 50%, public education within KCPS boundaries is approaching a crossroads. Which path forward is best for students?

Last month, I shared updated enrollment data for the 2016-2017 school year. Charters now enroll 45% of all public school students within our district.  50% of all kindergarten students attend charter schools. 60% of public school students within KCPS boundaries attend schools requiring an application (either charter or KCPS signature).

So what’s next for public education in Kansas City? Where are we headed?

I’m not sure. But a recent post from Neerav Kingsland, author of the blog Relinquishment, helped clarify my thinking on the choices available to Kansas City as our charter sector continues to grow.

In his post “Charters growing in your city? You have 5 options”, Kingsland offers a useful framework for understanding the options available to districts, like ours, with high charter market share.

These cities, he suggests, “will have to evolve their educational systems to govern a mixed portfolio of school types”. Drawing on examples of other urban districts, he outlines five potential paths forward:

  1. Implode (Detroit)
  2. Compete (Washington, DC)
  3. Coordinate and Collaborate (Denver)
  4. Blur the lines (Indianapolis & Camden)
  5. Govern (New Orleans)

Some of these options, he points out, “will be much better for children than others”.  You can read his full post here.

So, where does Kansas City currently fall among these options?

Or maybe the better question is:  Going forward, which path do we want to be on? Which path is best for Kansas City’s students and families?


I’ve gathered a few links to background articles about each city, for those who may be interested in learning more. This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive; if you’d like to recommend other articles, please leave them in the comments section.


Washington DC:




New Orleans:




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *