For CEE-Trust, a consultant hired by Missouri education officials to propose ways to reverse what it calls “disastrous” student performance in Kansas City, nothing less than sweeping change is required.
“This is not about reforming the system,” the CEE-Trust report said. “Reforming the system has been tried for years and hasn’t worked. This is not about incremental change. Incremental change has been tried for years and hasn’t worked. This is about transforming a school system by ensuring teachers, school leaders, parents, and schools have the conditions they need to thrive.''
The group proposes a makeover that would direct more money to individual schools, disband low-performing school districts. recruit outside nonprofit groups to run schools and address non-academic needs such as health care, nutrition and even laundry services to prepare students better to learn.
Keys to its approach, which could be applied to other schools in the state, are putting educators in charge of their schools, instead of having their hands tied by rules from a central office, and holding them accountable for success. Leadership of failing schools would be replaced, and universal pre-school would be instituted to give all students a good head start.
Here's a quick list of the report's conclusions.
1. Any changes have to focus on individual schools, not school systems, because it is only schools that have shown progress in turning around poor academic performance. Schools need different amounts of time to turn themselves around.
2. The plan is not designed to privatize education but to find nonprofit operators who can turn schools around, then return them to locally elected boards.
3. Money has to be taken from central administration and returned to the local school level, giving more control over curriculum, staffing and other questions to those closest to the students.
4. In exchange for greater autonomy from central office, schools have to be held accountable for better performance.
5. Quality pre-school for all 3 and 4 year olds is a key for success later in their academic performance.
Find more in the report yourself: