Imagine: Kansas City Schools Attracting Residents
We have heard it for years: Kansas City schools are so bad that it is driving people from the city in droves. The district enrollment has dwindled from 75,000 a few decades ago to approximately 14,000 today. And this isn’t just the much-maligned “white flight;” people of all races continue to flee the city.
Two weeks ago, we conducted our lottery for next school year. For kindergarten alone, we had 95 applications for only 47 open positions. Among the applicants is a family seeking to relocate from Kansas City, Kan., for the primary purpose of sending their children to Crossroads academy. Now this is not something we often hear — people moving to Kansas City because of the schools. But here’s the simple truth: families will go wherever they find the best teachers.
Johnson is correct, but he downplays the important role of administration. There are excellent teachers in the Kansas City School District, but the administration often is so bad that teachers are unable to teach. As local public education reform advocate Pam Kingsley said, “You could replace every teacher in the Kansas City district with the best teachers in the world, and after a year, they’d all have left because the schools are run so poorly.”
One family moving to Kansas City is anecdotal, but it is good news in what seems to be decades of bad. If Kansas City is serious about improving its education system, it needs to embrace school choice. After all, charter schools, which are public schools that are independently governed rather than district-run, not only out-perform public district schools, but they do so with less resources. It’s no wonder that more than 40 percent of the children in Kansas City’s public schools are already in charters. The program needs to be supported and expanded.
If charter schools can offer better education for less — and in the meantime actually attract people to the city — then everyone should encourage their existence and success.