NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Kansas City Schools: Showplaces Of Failure

May 3, 2000

Despite spending $2 billion over two decades to improve performance, Missouri's Kansas City School District lost its state accreditation on Monday. Kansas City schools have been in the national spotlight since 1977, when a federal judge overseeing a desegregation lawsuit ordered the schools to spend unlimited amounts of money to try to attract more white suburban students into its system.

  • Nevertheless, about 75 percent of the district's students are minorities and test scores are dismal.
  • The city's schools failed to meet any of the state's 11 performance standards -- including test scores, dropout rates and attendance.
  • Local critics blame the district for placing too much emphasis on the racial makeup of the schools, lavish new facilities and magnet schools -- and devoting too little attention to improving basic academic standards.
  • The loss of accreditation means the district has two years to raise test scores, improve graduation rates and make progress in other areas or face the prospect of a takeover by the state.

It also means that children in the district can leave for suburban schools -- and the district must pay tuition and transportation costs.

The board decided last fall to strip the district's accreditation effective May 1, so the move was not a surprise. The superintendent of schools, Benjamin Demps Jr., commented, "We have been preparing to face the challenge it brings."

Source Dirk Johnson, "'F' for Kansas City Schools Adds to the District's Woes," New York Times, May 3, 2000.


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