March 19, 2010

CITIES ARE A FAILED PROPOSITION:

Schools are out -- forever -- in Kansas City, Mo.: The troubled school district is closing nearly half its campuses after 10 years of dwindling student population. It's what happens when a district loses support of the public it is meant to serve. (Nicholas Riccardi, March 20, 2010, LA Times)

During the warm months, when students at Westport High School got too hot, they cooled down by moving to one of the many vacant classrooms on campus. It was one of the advantages of having 400 students assigned to a school that could hold 1,200.

The downside became apparent last week, though, when the Kansas City school board voted to close Westport and 25 other schools -- nearly half of the district's campuses.

Big-city districts shutter schools all the time. Cities such as Denver and Portland, Ore,. have seen childless young families repopulate their urban cores and have adjusted accordingly.

But what is happening in Kansas City is different in scale than anywhere else in the country. It's an extreme example of what happens when a school system loses the support of the public it's meant to serve.

The Kansas City, Missouri School District lost half its student population in the past 10 years as parents fled to the suburbs or placed their children in private or non-district-run charter schools. District test scores have long lagged behind the rest of the state.

Meanwhile, the district continued to operate 61 schools capable of holding 75,000 students. It now has about 17,000 students.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 19, 2010 6:10 PM
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