Kansas City Area Schools
By Elizabeth Orosco, Northeast News
Five years have passed since giant backhoes reduced Thacher Elementary, a 115-year-old school building, to a pile of rubble. Today, over a decade since the school was shuttered, remnants of the building are being given new life and repurposed into neighborhood markers over a half-mile stretch from the site of the former school. Three Indian Mound neighborhood pillars, using bricks from the old school, will be placed along Independence Avenue at Jackson, Van Brunt, and Hardesty. A larger neighborhood sign made up of bricks and one of Thacher’s three arches, has been constructed at Wilson Road. Thacher, formerly located in the Indian Mound neighborhood at the northwest corner of Independence Avenue and Quincy Avenue, was built in 1900 and designed by architect Charles Ashley Smith (1867 – 1948). Smith, a prolific Kansas City architect, was a Northeast resident who designed his home at 810 Benton Boulevard. He is responsible for designing more than 50 Kansas City Public schools including Northeast High School, Woodland School (711 Woodland), and Attucks Elementary School (18th and Woodland).
By Elizabeth Orosco, Northeast News
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is working on offering teachers across the state a larger, more competitive salary. The State Board of Education wants to increase the minimum teacher starting salary from $25,000 to $32,000…Dr. Mark Bedell, superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools, said KCPS compensates because they are a larger school district, have a larger tax base, and have the ability to generate income to be able to pay teachers more than rural districts. Although no teachers make below $32,000, Dr. Bedell said that does not mean he isn’t trying to increase pay for his teachers in the district to be more competitive.
By Mara Rose Williams, KC Star
Lee’s Summit school officials announced Monday they have named the leader of a district outside St. Louis as their next superintendent. David Buck has led the Wright City school district since 2015, a district less than a 10th the size of the Lee’s Summit district. The school board chose him from among four finalists during a specially called closed session on Friday. He will be introduced to the community at the next public meeting set for Jan. 23. His contract will be voted on then, district officials said. Details, including salary, were not available. Buck is to begin his duties July 1.
Missouri Education News
KC Star Editorial Board
Eleven-year-old Ryphath Knopp told state lawmakers at a hearing on school restraints what it was like, being thrown into a small padded room on a regular basis at his public school in Columbia, Missouri: Such “isolation rooms” are “an adapted version of solitary confinement, which was a form of torture, may I remind you,” said the boy, who told the committee that he has autism, anxiety and depression and was put in “seclusion” as punishment “almost all day every day” until his parents took him out of school and started teaching him at home. Sounds somewhere between unlikely and impossible, doesn’t it? But this inhumane use of isolation as punishment in schools is far from an isolated incident, either in Missouri or across the country. And no, absolutely nothing about this medieval practice in modern schools is funny. If you’d been tossed into a box to calm you down, Knopp asked the legislators, would that “make you calmer, or would that make you madder?” Just listening to the testimony at the Tuesday hearing was infuriating enough.
By Curt Fuchs and Carole Kennedy, The Rolla Daily News
Recently the Columbia Daily Tribune published Bob Roper’s commentary calling for the expansion of charter schools beyond the Kansas City and St. Louis school districts. We’d like to set the record straight about the history of charter schools (especially in Missouri) and the current educational climate. The original idea for charter schools came from AFT union leader Al Shanker in 1992. They were to have some relief from regulations that would allow them to be “incubators of innovations” whose successes could be replicated in other public schools. This has not been the case, nor have charter schools been “sweeping the nation,” as suggested in the previous article. The figure of 7,000 charters in the U.S. as mentioned in that article would be just 7% of the total number of public schools in our country. In some areas, including Florida, charters have been opened by entrepreneurs, including hedge fund managers, with little if any experience in school management. For-profit charters can be a very lucrative business with owners and family members enriching themselves with taxpayer dollars. Profit becomes more important than student achievement.
National Education News
A former high school principal, Head Start Director Deborah Bergeron is working her connections with K-12 organizations to get more school and district leaders involved in P-3 efforts.
By Linda Jacobson, EducationDive
Transition into school is harder for new kindergartners — and their parents — when the family has never visited the new school, when they haven’t met the new teachers or other staff members, and when they are unfamiliar with the practices, routines and expectations of the classroom. The Office of Head Start is hoping to ensure more children leaving the federally funded preschool program have those experiences and that Head Start and K-12 leaders collaborate on ways to improve the transition process. In December, OHS, the National Association of Elementary School Principals and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to work across these systems in an effort to guide how Head Start centers and schools address transition.
By Linda Jacobson, EducationDive
School districts nationwide face myriad challenges and successes heading into the new year. Where some jurisdictions see gains with student success and technological innovation, others continue to face takeover threats and lawsuits. Others are confronted with growing pains amid population booms bred by local business growth. As we continue into the new year, here are six districts worth keeping an eye on.
San Diego Unified School District, California
While the most recent National Assessment of Education Progress provided few results to celebrate, the San Diego Unified School District was one district participating in the Trial Urban District Assessment that continues to see gains in reading and math in both 4th and 8th grades. Last year, SDUSD was among seven districts in California that the Learning Policy Institute recognized for being a “positive outlier” because students are scoring higher than would be predicted, based on demographics. Among the improvements researchers noted in the report: emphasis on principals being instructional leaders, organizing Common Core standards in a way that are “manageable” for teachers and matching graduation requirements with standards for admission to the states’ university systems.
A brightly colored catalog is boosting visibility for more than a dozen workshops that can be made available to parents at any school upon request.
By Natalie Gross, EducationDive
Eight brightly colored pieces of paper are streamlining the way principals in the School District of Philadelphia engage families and get them on campus. These Family Engagement School-Level Workshop Catalogs, as they’re known, offer a concise list of more than a dozen workshops that can be made available to parents at any school upon request — from lessons in why school attendance matters to using art to reinforce students’ math skills at home. Other topics include helping with homework, transitioning to middle school, and fostering a growth mindset in children, among others.
By Lauren Camera, U.S. News
PARENTS, FRUSTRATED with shifting political winds in K-12 education, are doing what parents have been known to do for centuries: Go it alone. Two Latina mothers from opposite sides of the country have joined forces to form their own union to disrupt an education agenda they say is pushing out parents like them and, more importantly, leaving behind poor students and students of color. With high-profile advisers, foundation funding and bona fide union credentials of their own, Keri Rodrigues and Alma Marquez are set to officially launch the National Parents Union on Jan. 16, when they’ll hold an inaugural summit in New Orleans with 125 delegates from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.