March 27, 2019


Kansas City Education News

‘It’s about getting ready to learn’: What to know about Sly James’ pre-K proposal

By Mara Rose Williams, KC Star


Gwendolyn Grant could barely stay in her seat as she talked about the reasons she’s leading a campaign against Kansas City’s proposed sales tax for universal pre-K. “It’s not universal,” said Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, pushing away from the boardroom table and throwing both hands in the air. “It’s pre-K for some but they are asking all of us to pay for it.” Grant is voicing one of the most frequently heard objections to Mayor Sly James’ pre-K proposal: that it is financed on the backs of the poor with a regressive tax that claims a bigger portion of their income than it does the better-off.  There’s nothing more regressive than poverty, James retorts. Too many Kansas City children enter kindergarten already behind those who attended a quality pre-K program. Many never catch up.  “Reaching kindergarten and being ready is not about bringing in the latest box of crayons with the sharpener on the side and having Velcro shoes,” James told a group of supporters gathered for a brunch last month. “It’s about getting ready to learn.”

‘We owe it to our kids’: Mayor Sly James delivers final State of the City address

By Allison Kite, KC Star

Kansas City can build all the convention hotels, airports and streetcars it wants. But unless its children get a good early education, it will always be held back, Mayor Sly James said in his final State of the City address Tuesday.  This summer marks the end of James’ eight years as mayor. He’s term limited, and 11 candidates are running in a primary election to replace him. Speaking at Rockhurst University, where he graduated in 1980, James focused most heavily not on his administration’s biggest projects, but the visions that have not – or not yet – been realized. He cited, for example, an inability to curb gun violence and imposing gun control in Kansas City “because of the nonsensical ideology in the state of Missouri.”  And he lobbied hard for a 3/8-cent sales tax increase to fund a pre-K expansion. That’s on voters’ ballots next week.

Missouri Education News

Columbia public schools settle 2 discrimination claims

By The Associated Press


The Columbia Public School district will pay $306,000 to settle two discrimination lawsuits filed by school administrators. KMIZ-TV reports assistant principals Andrew McCarthy and Rachel Henderson, who are married, recently settled their cases with the district. They each will receive $153,000, with 40 percent of each settlement going to their lawyers. The couple sued the district and former assistant superintendent Kevin Brown in 2017. They alleged Brown separated the two after they complained about derogatory comments they say he made toward students and faculty at Battle High School. McCarthy also sued over the search for a new principal at Hickman High School — a job he applied for but did not get. The settlements show the district denied any wrongdoing in the cases.


National Education News

Trump Plan to Scrap Special Olympics Funding Draws Fierce Reaction

By Christina Samuels, Education Week

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made the first of two trips to Capitol Hill Tuesday to defend the Trump administration’s proposed Education Department budget, which would pare more than $7 billion from current spending levels. But it was the administration’s proposed elimination of federal funding for Special Olympics—about $18 million—that drew the most heat on social media in the wake of her testimony before a House appropriations subcommittee.  Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin, posted a clip of him pressing DeVos about the proposal, which would be one of 29 programs eliminated in the Trump administration’s proposed budget.  “Do you know how many kids are going to be affected by that cut?” Pocan asked.   “Let me just say again, we had to make some difficult decisions with this budget,” DeVos said, before Pocan jumped in to say that 272,000 children are affected.   “I think the Special Olympics is an awesome organization, one that is well supported by the philanthropic sector as well,” DeVos said.


A Warrior Against the Inequities in Schools – Education Week’s Leaders to Learn from – series

By Daarel Burnette II 

Plastered across classroom walls and throughout the hallways of the administration building in the Newburgh, N.Y., school district are two words: “inclusive excellence.”

It’s a vision statement and call to action for a school district that for too long had left behind its students most in need.  The phrase was developed shortly after Superintendent Roberto Padilla’s arrival in 2014, during a series of frank and difficult community meetings about why the district has struggled so much academically. Just a fraction of Newburgh’s students, most of them poor, black, and Latino, could meet minimal state standards, and one of its elementary schools was at risk of being taken over by the state. Those meetings, which included hundreds of parents, teachers, staff, and administrators, touched on issues of race, class, and who over the years had benefited most from the district’s resources. Padilla has since woven equity into the fabric of Newburgh’s everyday activities and his decision making. He’s overhauled its budget and administrative staff, placing muscle in its most destitute and academically challenged schools. And he’s started the arduous task of redistributing teachers so that its most talented educators are placed in front of the students who are struggling most.