January 3, 2007

The Topeka school board, of Brown v. Board of Education infamy, is once again in the public spotlight.  This time it is over a new proposition that would allow underperforming students in grades K-5 to attend a newly formed charter school, says Jason L. Riley, a member of the Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board.

The need for new options is the result of what backers -- including Cheryl Brown Henderson, a daughter of the lead plaintiff in the historic 1954 Supreme Court decision -- say are failing schools:

  • Between 1993 and 2005, per-pupil spending in Kansas rose 62 percent, yet black and Hispanic third-grade readers still trailed their white counterparts by more than 23 percentage points
  • Meanwhile, just over one half of 1 percent of K-12 students in the state are enrolled in charters, many of which are located in rural areas rather than the urban centers -- which disproportionately hurt minority students and families most.

Overall, the result is that students who've long been ill-served by Topeka's traditional public schools are being deprived of viable alternatives.  As Henderson puts it in her letter of support, "Accountability, access to equal educational opportunity and well-trained educators are guarantees that can be put in place by something as simple as considering all options."

Source: Jason L. Riley, "What's the Matter With Kansas?" Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2007.

For text (subscription required):



Browse more articles on Education Issues