March 14, 2019


Kansas City Education News

Citywide data partnership offers new ways to serve students

Kansas City Public Schools will share student data with local nonprofits

By Tara Garcia Mathewson, The Hechinger Report

If a student’s family gets evicted, her teachers may never know. If a student’s parents initiate a divorce, if someone dies or goes to jail, if a caregiver loses a job – all these things affect a student’s ability to focus on school, get homework done and even show up to class. Yet if students aren’t forthcoming with the information, schools can miss the signs. Teachers may see a child acting out and address the behavior problem without digging deeper. Absences may pile up without anyone figuring out what’s causing them.  In Kansas City, a new citywide partnership aims to improve the capacity of both schools and nonprofits to serve students well. The school district has long shared some of its student data with trusted community partners, but now those data-sharing agreements are getting turbocharged, thanks to new software designed to create a holistic view of individual children by bringing together data and insights from all the organizations that serve them. Kansas City is the first community to try out Apricot 360, a platform developed by the software company Social Solutions and made more affordable by a $59 million commitment from the Ballmer Group, a nonprofit focused on improving economic mobility.  Once all the right data-sharing agreements are in place, Apricot 360 will automatically integrate data from the Kansas City Public Schools and nonprofits like the Local Investment Commission (LINC), which operates before- and after-school programs along with specialized support services for foster and court-involved youth.


There Is A Way To Boost Achievement Of Low-Income Students

By Michael Price & Mike Sherry,  Flatland

– March 14th, 2019 at 6:30 AM


The economic divide is a big driver of educational inequality around the country and here in the Kansas City area. But does that have to be a given?  The hope is that the school of the future can narrow the opportunity gap between wealthy and low-income school districts. To a large extent, this means adding supports to help disadvantaged students. Education advocates say those interventions should include everything from ensuring students are well fed to providing mentors and assistance through outside nonprofits.  Perhaps then, as one local school leader said, our urban schools can produce a next generation of adults who can sever the link between poverty and inequity. A future where some kids don’t get left behind is hard to fathom for Gwen Grant, CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City. But, as she noted in the video above, perhaps Kansas City will be different.

Missouri Education News

Mary Sheid Named to Missouri State Board of Education

By Beth Finello,

Missouri Governor Michael L. Parson named Mary Sheid to the State Board of Education on Tuesday afternoon. Sheid, whose appointment will fill out the eight-member board, is now subject to confirmation by the Missouri Senate in the coming weeks.  Sheid currently works as the owner and chief executive operator of Physical Therapy Specialists Clinic, Inc. in West Plains. She serves as project director for SOARHigh, an ongoing project that works with select students in the areas of nutrition, physical education, and social-emotional wellness. Sheid spent three years as president of the Southern Ozarks Alliance for Rural Development and is a member of the GO-CAT community advisory board, which assists community development, internships and technical training. She previously served on the Missouri State University Board of Governors from 2002-2011 and is a current member of a local workforce investment board.  Sheid earned her Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy from the University of Missouri-Columbia and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and psychology from Drury University.

Teaching kids ‘appropriate online behavior’ stirs state mandate debate in Missouri House

By Jack Suntrup Louis Post-Dispatch

A group of lawmakers worried about intrusion into public schools by the state sounded off Wednesday night in the Missouri House about a proposal that would require schools to teach fourth graders about “appropriate online behavior.”  “The idea that we can succinctly tell students in a short little seminar how to behave, honestly I think is naive,” said Rep. Tony Lovasco, R-St. Charles County.  “There’s lots of things that we could continually mandate upon on our schools, and I think the more we do that the more we distract them from their fundamental goal, which is education,” he said. “Teaching children how to survive? That’s the job of the parents.”  Rep. Ann Kelley, R-Lamar, fired back: “I completely agree. A lot of these things should be up to the family, should be up to the parents. However, in our society, we do not have that foundation in the family. We do not have parents that take on that responsibility, unfortunately. And so who’s going to do it?”

National Education News

Denver’s Allen Smith named a ‘future chief’ by national education leadership group


A top Denver school district administrator who has risen through the ranks was named a leader to watch Thursday by Chiefs for Change, a high-profile national network of education leaders.  Allen Smith is the chief of culture, equity, and leadership for Denver Public Schools. He’s one of nine state and district leaders who will participate in the Chiefs for Change “future chiefs” program. The program is considered a springboard that helps push administrators into top jobs. Susana Cordova, who started as Denver superintendent in January, was a participant. Her predecessor, Tom Boasberg, is a Chiefs for Change board member.  Smith is a graduate of Denver’s George Washington High School, and he comes from a family of educators. He previously served as principal of three Denver schools: Skyland Community High School and Barrett Elementary School, both of which are now closed, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College, a middle and high school in far northeast Denver.

Senate Bill Proposes Smaller Class Sizes for High-Poverty School Districts

RACHEL M. COHEN     MARCH 14, 2019, Next City


Following a year of teacher strikes where educators in West Virginia, Los Angeles, Denver and beyond called for wage increases and reduced class sizes, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced a new bill to incentivize smaller class sizes in kindergarten and first, second and third grades. The legislation, which would allocate $2 billion for competitive grant funding, primarily to high-poverty school districts in the United States, is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Cory Booker (NJ) and Michael Bennet (CO). The bill is also endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the National Parent Teacher Association, and First Focus Campaign for Children.  Merkley says his bill is not a direct response to the teacher uprisings, but rather a reaction after discovering his son’s surprisingly large first-grade class. “My memory of my first-grade class was there was about 20 kids in it,” he says. “When I saw my son’s class I thought, how is the teacher ever going to be able to do this with 34 5- and 6-year-olds? We are the wealthiest nation on earth and can afford to do better.” Class size reduction has long been a popular policy among parents and educators, but in state and federal government, interest in the issue has waxed and waned over the last two decades.  To fund smaller class sizes, states and school districts have been able to use Title II-A money, which is an annual pot of federal funds available for teacher quality initiatives. In the early 2000s, 57 percent of all Title II-A funds indeed went for this purpose. But by 2015, just 25 percent of those dollars were going to class size reduction, with far more dollars now spent on things like professional development.