Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dissolve the Kansas City Missouri School District, keep the schools

We’re witnessing the end of centralized governance in many institutions. Large has run its course. While we long for a better model, the model forms before our eyes; a product of diminishing resources and human capability to manage more than they can measure or understand. Debates may offer varying perspectives, but debate will not produce anything other than air when debaters possess no authority. Some use the word strategy, yet it appears that the day to day reality of education resides in one classroom at a time, one school at a time.

My recommendation is to dissolve the Kansas City Missouri School District and the school board. Establish a governance system where principals lead, where teachers teach, where students learn. Establish a Kansas City level staff accountable to the school principals not in charge of them. The staff leader could be a person with the skill sets of a city manager, not a Superintendent, a public servant, not a master of ceremonies.

Current principals may shudder at the thought of actually running their schools and all the dimensions thereof, to include curriculum and public relations.

If graduates and parents chose to do so, they could form (501c3) foundations to support and enrich their alma mater.

If this sounds familiar to those who’ve attended private schools, your familiarity is spot on. That’s my model. Schools work well when those in the school are afforded the resources, time, and space to do what they do well: learn, teach, and lead. This model has less to do with money and more to do with self-determination.

If there is a board of any kind, it could be a board of principals. This is not a strategy, but rather the organic authentic reality that’s been here for years. There is no hierarchy, no bottom up, top down approach. I consider schools potential laboratories, libraries, rehearsal spaces, studios… not institutions. The Kansas City School District is dead…long live the schools and the people who attend them every day.

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