April 8, 2019


Kansas City Education News

Pre-K in Kansas City may rise from the ashes of defeat. Here’s how

By Mara Rose Williams, KC Star

Kansas City voters may have soundly rejected Mayor Sly James’ pre-K sales tax plan, but that doesn’t mean the basic idea is dead.  “I’m hopeful,” said Mark Bedell, superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools. “I know that it is an issue that is near and dear to many people in the community.” He’s already heard from community leaders who want to pick up the torch and ignite support for a new plan to expand early childhood education.  Quinton Lucas, one of two candidates to emerge victorious from Tuesday’s mayoral primary, said he envisions coordinating area school districts to shoot for a pre-K property tax levy. “That, frankly, is what I would have preferred to see happening from the start,” he said.  His opponent and fellow city council member, Jolie Justus, said she too is ready for the city to “sit back down, roll up our sleeves and come up with a different plan.”  She said the city and school districts need “to keep pushing to see what funding we can get at the state level because the return on investment is so great that we can’t let up. But we also need to continue this local conversation. The need has never been in doubt.”  Bedell said the school district had been prepared to work with the city if voters had approved James’ 3/8-cent sales tax, funding pre-K for all city 4-year-olds. “And if not, then we already have our own plan to move forward with expansion.”  Bedell and the superintendents of 13 other school districts with students living in Kansas City had opposed the mayor’s plan, saying it stripped districts of their control of the program and would give public money to private pre-K providers. They said a sales tax places an unfair burden on the city’s poor. About one in five Kansas Citians lives below the poverty line.  Last Tuesday, about 67 percent of voters said no to the proposal, many saying they didn’t want more taxes. But most people on both sides of the issue support the idea of pre-K.  Though his term ends Aug. 1, James told The Star he will continue to fight for universal early childhood education.  “Whatever challenges we have, they’re small compared to 4-year-olds who are denied the opportunity to receive the quality pre-K education they need,” he told The Star. “They’re the ones who have the real challenges because their lives could be adversely affected.  “We owe it to them to be true to what we’ve said all along — that we’re doing this to make sure every child in this city has an opportunity to receive high-quality pre-K, which leads to being ready for kindergarten, leads to being able to read proficiently by the third grade, which then opens up doors which are not currently open to a lot of kids in this city.

Pre-K Supporters Pledge To Forge Ahead After Kansas City Voters Rejected Tax Hike

By Alex Smith, KCUR Radio

Judging by the results of Tuesday’s election, in which Kansas City, Missouri, voters rejected a universal pre-K plan by a nearly 2-1 margin, some might think there’s little interest in early childhood education.  But Annie Watson doesn’t see it that way. She spent hours on the phone talking to voters on behalf of her employer, Turn The Page KC, the child literacy organization that was founded by Mayor Sly James.  “The majority of folks would say, ‘No, we believe in the importance of early childhood education. We believe in pre-K. We send our own kids to pre-K. We’ve seen the benefit,’” Watson said the day after the election. “There’s something about this that feels counter to how we think it should be done.” Voters rejected a three-eights-cent sales tax that would’ve generated $30 million over 10 years. It’s not the last they’ll hear of it, though, as supporters and opponents of the measure said they would continue to work at bringing universal pre-K to the city.  Watson, director of early education and parent success at Turn The Page KC, said on KCUR’s Up To Date that she’s optimistic about working with more partners, including Kansas City Public Schools, which was against the ballot measure.

Missouri Education News

Missouri charter schools say they miss out on millions in local revenue


National Education News

Investing in Principal Talent Pays Off in Higher Math and Reading Scores, Study Finds

By Denisa R. Superville, Education Week

Principals who’ve had attention at every point in their development as a school leader—including selection, preparation, hiring, placement, and coaching after they are on the job—were linked to stronger reading and math achievement and to longer tenures in their jobs at the helm of schools.

Those clear findings—from a new study of six school districts that made heavy investments in strengthening their cadre of school leaders—underscore the key role principals play in their schools’ academic success. The report, by researchers at RAND Corporation, looked at the six-year, $85 million “principal pipeline” initiative supported by the Wallace Foundation. (Coverage of education leadership in Education Week is supported in part by the Wallace Foundation.)

Schools that got new principals in 2011-12 as part of the pipeline initiative outperformed other schools in their states that were not in the program by 6.22 percentile points in reading and 2.87 percentile points in math three years after the new school leader was hired, researchers found.

RAND also found that new principals in the pipeline districts were 5.8 percentage points more likely to stay in their schools for two years than new principals in non-participating districts, though there was variation among districts.

Perhaps most significantly, the report found statistically significant academic growth in the schools that were among the lowest-performing in the pipeline districts that had gotten new principals. And while new principals who were products of the initiative posted the most growth, other school leaders in the pipeline districts also saw gains.


Screen Reading Worse for Comprehension, Leads to Overconfidence, New Meta-analysis Concludes

Benjamin Herold, Education Week

More evidence is in: Reading from screens harms comprehension. According to a new meta-analysis of nearly three dozen research studies published over the past decade, reading from paper has a small, statistically significant benefit on reading performance.  One likely reason: Readers using screens tend to think they’re processing and understanding texts better then they actually are. Furthermore, according to a study presented here at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association by University of North Dakota assistant education professor Virginia Clinton, readers using paper saw better performance without having to expend more time or effort. “Reading from screens had a negative effect on reading performance relative to paper,” according to Clinton’s study, titled “Reading From Paper Compared to Screens: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” published this year in the Journal of Research in Reading. “There is legitimate concern that reading on paper may be better in terms of performance and efficiency.”  For years, schools have worried about the effects of digital reading on student comprehension, even as they’ve flooded classrooms with digital devices and instructional software. Those concerns have been heightened by recurring findings that  students tend to score lower in English/language arts on state standardized tests when they take the exams on computers, at least in the first couple years of online test administration.