The Kansas City School District is attempting to prevent (through the court system) a November 6 ballot initiative which would allow Kansas City voters to decide whether or not to transfer seven schools from the Kansas City School District to the nearby Independence School District.
Residents of Independence and Sugar Creek (two Kansas City suburbs), whose homes are zoned to Kansas City public schools, believe that they should be “rezoned” to the Independence School District instead. They argue that Kansas City’s poor public education track record is responsible for falling property values and depressed economic growth within their communities.
It’s easy to see why residents would rather be zoned to the Independence School District. According to data collected by Standard and Poor’s School Evaluation Services, more than twice as many students in the Independence School district received “proficient” scores on their Missouri MAP exit scores than did Kansas City students, despite the fact that the Independence School district spent nearly $2,500 less per student (in state tax dollars). Who wouldn’t want to switch to a district that is both more effective and less expensive?
How will districts ever improve if they remain insulated from competition? If individual schools were allowed to “jump ship,” perhaps school districts would have an incentive to improve performance, rather than tolerating decline.