More Money Failed To Improve Schools In Missouri
October 28, 1999
Those who argue that what schools need in order to improve is more money may want to take a look at what happened in Kansas City, Mo., after an extra $2 billion was lavished on its school district over the past 15 years.
It all began in 1984, when a judge ordered Kansas City to spend more money on its schools in a federal desegregation lawsuit. The money was used for smaller classes, higher teacher pay, new and renovated buildings, magnet schools and before- and after-class enrichment programs.
Last year, the city spent $8,956 on each student -- well above the state's average.
- Nevertheless, the district's graduation rate last year was just 56.5 percent -- compared to 77.4 for the state.
- Ninety percent of 10th graders scored in the bottom two of five levels on the state's math test.
- Just 11 percent of 7th graders were considered proficient readers -- compared to 31 percent for the state as a whole.
- Nor has the test-score gap between black and white students -- one of the chief targets of the original desegregation suit -- budged.
So the Missouri Board of Education has voted unanimously to revoke the district's accreditation, effective at the end of the school year. Also, it put St. Louis schools -- which have turned in an equally dismal record -- on two-years' notice to turn around its schools.
Observers say it is no coincidence that parent in Kansas City are turning to charter and other schools.
- Ten percent, or about 3,500 of the city's students, are attending one of 15 charter schools -- although none of the schools have been in existence more than a few months.
- As a result of the state's decision, Kansas City parents will also be able to send their children to any public school in neighboring districts.
- The Kansas City school board -- which will have to pay for their tuition and transportation -- is challenging the state in federal court.
- St. Louis students won't have the option of charters, since the school board's hostility toward them has resulted in none being set up.
A voucher bill failed to pass the Missouri House of Representatives last year. It wouldn't have mattered much anyway, since the governor opposes vouchers.
Source: Anna Bray Duff, "Missouri School Board Gets Tough," Investor's Business Daily, October 28, 1999.
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