Independent Thinking for Kansas City Schools

Patricia Hawke for

Kansas City Schools have undergone many changes in the past five years. The resignation of the superintendent for embezzlement of funds in 2002 highlighted the district’s need for change. Since then, Kansas City Schools have experienced reforms and new initiatives that are credited with giving the district some of the lowest dropout rates in the country. Kansas City Schools are still struggling and in a bit of turmoil, but they are making good progress in their efforts to get back into the game.
Kansas City Schools have composed their own list of reforms unique to the state of Missouri. One example is the Show-Me Standard, a group of goals designed to make students more independent thinkers and workers. Emphasis is put on the importance of community involvement and initiatives that promote a practical approach to life after high school. The Show-Me Standard pushes Kansas City Schools to produce evidence of achievement in the areas of concern. 
While depending on district officials to legislate pertinent initiatives, Kansas City Schools also adhere to nation wide reforms, such as the No Child Left Behind Act.  Written in an effort to bridge the gap between the advancement of all students, the reform has affected Kansas City Schools positively.  There has been a marked change in the cohesiveness of lesson plans and teaching methods in the Kansas City Schools.  Teachers are more unified in the material that they present to their students.  With a total of 69 elementary, middle and high schools in this large area, there is a real concern that education be equally represented to each individual.
The district officials governing Kansas City Schools are increasingly concerned with how monetary funds are designated for school improvement.  After the scandalous dismissal of the last superintendent, parents hesitate to put faith in the system.  The various initiatives of public schools since then exhibit caution and meticulous concern for student funding.  There have been studies probing the efficiency of reforms before money is invested in district wide approval of projects. 
A study conducted to research the impact media center services would have on elementary educational success found that school libraries significantly improve student grades. This resulted in a plan to improve Kansas City Schools’ library system.  Significant academic improvement has also been shown in students who received guidance counseling services.  In the study, Kansas City School counselors worked with teachers to prepare lesson plans dealing with social issues.  Topics covered in the guidance lesson plans included confrontational and peer pressure situations.  More than anything, it is this preparation for real world situations and practical experience that Kansas City Schools hope will propel their reform movement ahead.   
Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit <a href="">Kansas City Schools</a>