The future looks brighter for the preservation of the historic Quindaro Ruins in northeast Kansas City, Kansas, after a bill passed the U.S. House on Tuesday. (File photo by Mary Rupert)
by Mary Rupert
An array of options may open for the future of the Quindaro Ruins in northeast Kansas City, Kansas, after the passage of a bill Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill names the Quindaro Ruins as a national commemorative site, and that could potentially open funding for programs through the federal government. The bill passed the Senate earlier and now goes to the president’s desk for a signature.
Ideas have been considered of tourists visiting the site on the Underground Railroad, attending educational and informational programs, and going on walking trails around the pre-Civil War era town that borders on the Missouri River.
Yet before any of that should take place, there is a need for more archaeological work at the site, said Marvin S. Robinson II, who has been advocating for preservation of the Quindaro Ruins for many years.
Robinson has hoped for a national historic landmark designation for the Quindaro Ruins, and this national commemorative site designation is considered to be a step toward that. Robinson said the landmark designation currently is under review now by the Interior Department, and a consultant is helping with the preliminary work necessary for that designation.
The designation project has picked up support from Freedom’s Frontier, the Unified Government and other groups in recent years.
The preservation efforts so far have had widespread support from the senators and representatives from Kansas. All voted for the national commemorative site designation bill.
Robinson said he hopes that as the project moves forward, the Quindaro community will be included at the table in the decision-making.
He said he also hopes Dr. Robert Hoard of the Kansas State Historical Society, an archaeologist, is part of the decision-making process and the plan of action at the site.
More archaeological work has not yet been approved, but Robinson said it is necessary. He discussed a LiDAR image process, where images are depicted of buildings and items that might be 20 to 30 feet beneath the surface. That would help identify where all the archaeological sites in the Quindaro Ruins are, he said. Then preservation and restoration techniques could be employed.
Not a great deal of archaeological work has been done at the Quindaro Ruins since it was proposed for a landfill in the mid-1980s, according to Robinson. Most of that work stopped when the landfill project was halted.
There has been some research in recent years, however, confirming that the Union Army rode at the Quindaro town site, including the 1st Kansas Army regiment, Robinson said. Several universities and colleges have participated in research efforts involving the Quindaro Ruins.
“We need to find out where all the archaeology sites were,” Robinson said. “We just have a smidgen of what was there.”
Robinson focused on a portion of the Quindaro area for the site project.
Quindaro was founded in 1856 by the Wyandot Nation, and was named after Quindaro Nancy Brown Guthrie, the spouse of the town’s founder, Abelard Guthrie. It was an abolitionist port town and grew to an estimated size of about 2,000 people. Many of the town’s residents left during or just prior to the Civil War. After the Civil War, exodusters settled near Quindaro, and the former Western University was built in the Quindaro area.
The bill that passed this week recognizes the historic significance of the Quindaro Ruins area, a haven for escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad in the pre-Civil War era. The town, a free-state port on the Missouri River at what is now 27th Street in Kansas City, Kansas, was populated largely by abolitionists and it went into decline around the Civil War. The ruins were abandoned until the 1980s, when archaeologists unearthed significant finds.
While the Quindaro site would not be considered a unit of the National Park system under this bill, the bill would allow local, state and federal governments to enter into agreements with entities to protect historic resources at the site and to provide educational and interpretive facilities and programs at the site for the public. It would allow technical and financial assistance to any entity which has an agreement with the Secretary of the Interior and the local and state governments.
An earlier story from Feb. 27, 2017, about the Quindaro Ruins historic project receiving UG’s approval, is online at http://wyandottedaily.com/quindaro-national-landmark-project-receives-ugs-approval/
The bill that passed Tuesday is online, Sec. 9008, p. 694 of SB 47, at https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20190225/BILLS-116s47-SUS.pdf
A news release from Rep. Sharice Davids: https://davids.house.gov/media/press-releases/rep-sharice-davids-legislation-designate-quindaro-townsite-kansas-city-kansas
A news release from Sen. Pat Roberts: https://www.roberts.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/pressreleases?ID=0AAF02CE-9906-4E10-B710-C93CAC97060C
To reach Mary Rupert, editor of the Wyandotte Daily, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Stephan Bisaha, Kansas News Service
Student Matthew Fitch wanted a low-cost, quick entry into the workforce. That’s all he wanted.
So he transferred from a community college to WSU Tech — a place that felt quieter and more focused on his dash to the working world.
“There’s no parties all the time,” Fitch said. “Everybody’s kind of focused on learning a lot so that they can get a nice job.”
Fitch is one of thousands of students who have helped technical colleges defy what’s becoming a new Kansas college tradition — declining enrollment.
Kansas is near the end of a 10-year strategic plan to get more students into college classrooms. Instead, many of those classrooms have emptied.
The exception lies in the state’s technical colleges. Their enrollment swelled over the last decade. Advocates credit an emphasis on employer-focused, hands-on training rather than the sports and out-of-class activities that can define college life elsewhere.
Tech colleges have been championed as a model for higher education success across the political aisle. That’s kept state funding flowing with the argument that it sets students on a fast and cheap path to a solid job.
And with the state covering most of the bill, why wouldn’t students look hard at technical colleges?
In 2012, Kansas began paying the tuition for high school students taking career and technical courses. Last year, more than 11,000 high schoolers were enrolled in the program. Some students earn industry certifications before their high school diploma.
“I already have a welding certification,” said high school student Bishop Zelmer. He said the certification he earned from WSU Tech led to a job interview with a manufacturing company. “I plan on actually getting hired there. I feel like I’m confident enough.”
Entry-level welders make about $31,000, according to the Kansas Department of Labor. The department projects about 670 welding jobs to open in the state a year.
High schoolers account for nearly all the growth seen at technical colleges across the state. Students less than 18 years old made up more than a quarter of the people taking courses from state technical colleges in 2018 in Kansas. Technical courses at community colleges are also paid for, though those schools haven’t seen the same boon from the program as technical colleges.
Students often still pay class fees. Then-Gov. Jeff Colyer’s education council last year recommended those fees be covered by the state, schools or business partners. The council also suggests reevaluating to make sure the state focuses its subsidies on courses that get students into high-paying, high-demand jobs.
So students looking for a highly subsidized career have options. They’re just limited to where state officials decide to concentrate tax dollars for job readiness.
But for high school students willing to chase fields targeted by the state, technical college can be an easy decision.
For those with their high school years behind them and without the option of state-paid tuition, the sticker price makes technical college a trickier choice.
Both technical colleges and community colleges have turned to certifications for students to master workforce skills in a fraction of the time and price of more traditional degrees. Technical colleges weave those certifications into their identity more than community colleges. Those community colleges often function as a funnel to four-year universities.
Still, community colleges are often the cheaper option for similar programs.
Tuition and fees at technical colleges often cost twice as much as what’s listed for community colleges. An associate’s degree in engineering design technology from WSU Tech costs thousands of dollars more than a similar degree at Butler Community College. The Butler graduates also earned slightly more and were more likely to be employed in either Kansas or Missouri.
Yet it may make more sense for a student to worry more about what degree to pursue than where to get it. Technical and community colleges each have pathways to high-paying jobs and others that resemble dead ends. Sometimes, the best choice might be the school with the shortest commute.
Both types of colleges offer associate’s degrees that can lead students to a job that pays more than $50,000 a year after they graduate and enter the workforce, according to annual state data. Students with other degrees earn barely above the poverty line. The state data don’t include outcomes for the quick-to-earn certifications popular at community and technical colleges.
Despite the higher price and similar outcomes, technical colleges continue to grow as community colleges shrink. Technical colleges say they’re just better at tuning their courses to what employers want.
Spirit AeroSystems announced in December that it would create 1,400 new jobs in Kansas. To fill those spots, WSU Tech shortened its sheet metal program from eight weeks to six.
“When our employers say that they need a change — they need employees quicker, they need employees trained in a different way — we are able to do that much more quickly than a traditional community college,” said James Hall, the dean of aviation technologies at WSU Tech.
Other educators dispute the idea that technical colleges align better with businesses than other colleges. All types of Kansas colleges participate in a program designed to provide fast training to help fill the state’s skills gap. Spirit AeroSystems also said other colleges have been responsive to their needs.
“The tech colleges, the community colleges — we’ve worked with both of them,” said Samantha Meeds, a manager responsible at Spirit AeroSystems for workforce development programs. “Both groups have been accommodating when we’ve approached them and said, ‘Here’s a program we need.’”
Hands-on training has long been a top selling point for technical colleges. But community colleges have been cutting away at that advantage in recent years. Butler Community College has built in more hands-on training in both technical and general education classes. Each syllabus now comes with a promise of a physical task students master by the end of the courses.
“Technical education is more hands-on a lot of times,” said Daniel Higdon, the department chair of the engineering technology program at Butler. “But you’ll also see instructors who are embracing the change — the idea of hands-on in general education classes.”
Perhaps what is most noticeable for Kansas’ technical colleges is what they often don’t bother with — much campus life. WSU Tech, for instance, lacks dorm halls, sports and mascots.
But for students like Matthew Fitch, the loss of those colleges staples creates focus. The schools trade campus life for the promise of a fast, no-nonsense path to a good job.
“People are here to get (an) education,” Fitch said, “get a nice career going (and) make money.”
This is Part Three in a Kansas News Service series on colleges and careers.
Stephan Bisaha reports on education for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on @SteveBisaha.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.
See more at https://www.kcur.org/post/kansas-technical-colleges-riding-wave-demand-job-focused-education-0
Because of ice on Wyandotte County Lake, opening day for fishing at the lake has been postponed until Saturday, March 16, weather permitting, according to the Unified Government.
Opening day was originally scheduled for March 2.
Along with the lake opening, a benefit breakfast at the lake also has been rescheduled for March 16, said Lou Braswell, executive director of the Leavenworth Road Association.
The biscuits and sausage gravy breakfast will be from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. March 16 at the marina at Wyandotte County Lake, she said. The location of the breakfast was changed from the Davis Hall because the Davis Hall has already been booked by others for March 16.
The cost of the breakfast will be $10 for adults and a smaller portion at half-price for children 12 and younger. Breakfast includes two biscuits, sausage gravy, two sausage patties, coffee, milk or orange juice.
The breakfast is a fundraiser for the Leavenworth Road Association. Funds that are raised are put back into the community for programs, such as helping senior citizens with lawn care, she said.
She also said she hopes the weather gives them a break before too long.