Kansas City, Kansas, public schools have a tradition of steady improvement and stability that has been honored by both the Kansas State Board of Education and National Association of School Boards.
For example, the Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) has a comprehensive measure of expectations and progress for each district in the state. It takes many socioeconomic factors into account, looks at graduation rates as well as students’ post-secondary pursuits, and arrives at a predicted effective rate which is compared to the actual five-year effective average.
In the current Postsecondary Progress Report for Kansas City, Kansas, (2013-2017), the actual five-year effective average is 5.5 points above the predicted effective rate. What is more, the graduation rates steadily rise in the same period. So in those years, the district exceeded expectations and produced steady improvement.
Furthermore, the rich history of progress has led this remarkable community to celebrate our cultures, embrace economically challenged families, and a large population of people just learning about living in the United States. We believe in public education, raised our own children in these schools and support the district in every way we can.
Regrettably, the tradition was harshly interrupted after the election of 2017. Under the direction of then board president, Valdenia Winn, the newly elected board hired a superintendent who is reluctant to live in our school district, who shows little curiosity about our community, its challenges and strengths, and whose brief tenure has resulted in low morale among employees and many resignations and retirements. The executive administration is now dominated by new hires from out of state.
At public community meetings, this superintendent dismisses our history of collaboration and collective responsibility. The KSDE measure of expectations and progress is not yet available for this new administration. Given the results under Valdenia Winn, we are grateful that the current board of education chose in August to elect Maxine Drew as its president. Ms. Drew is a lifelong resident who taught in the KCK schools for 35 years. She represents a link to our tradition of steady improvement and stability.
Now it is the voters’ turn. Many citizens of KCK are talking about the election on Nov. 5. Citizens like us are coalescing into an informal group we call Voters 4 Success. We are concerned about restoring collaboration and dedication to our schools. Of the 11 candidates on the ballot for 4 seats, we believe these are the most qualified. And we believe they will approach the board with a commitment to teamwork, both among the board members and with the staff and larger community.
Janey Humphries is a hardworking incumbent focused on graduating all students prepared for their futures. Randy Lopez is a servant leader and dedicated civic volunteer with a master’s degree in public administration who works for a local nonprofit organization. Yolanda Clark is a parent with a passion for our community, focused on the success of all students, who works in the financial industry and has as strong background in business. Monica Crowe is a community activist and parent who served on the School Bond committee that led to nearly 80 percent of the voters supporting our schools in 2016, and former Kansas state chair of the Kansas PTA.
With these four additions, the KCK board of education can get back to steady improvement and stability for the success of our students.
Sally and Ramon Murguia
Kansas City, Kansas