KCMSD FUBAR

Bend over, kids; it won't hurt...much.

I suppose it has to do with being privy to how things really work 1 but the Covington-West divorce did not disappoint.

Sure, Kansas City’s kids will take it in the shorts from Yellow Bastard 2, but when in the last 40 years haven’t they? The KCMSD obviously isn’t and hasn’t been about the kids; the bespoke jobs designed specifically for their ‘graduates’ reflects this devo world.  3

And that’s fine; American’s have (tacitly) agreed to create a huge underclass of career limited people, all the better to take (should they so choose, mind; free will is still in play…) those pesky $7.50 – $12 an hour jobs white America scorns and Mexicans are too damned busy working 3 jobs to fill. The fact that even in good economic times there not enough of these jobs for everyone who wants them, combined with the fact that $12 an hour is barely enough ‘live’ on (if you live beneath an underpass) leaves a lot of want on the streets. And that want feeds on the dissatisfaction and anger the street has always bubbled up. Add a pinch of indifferent parenting, a generous lacing of drugs and a soupçon of suspicion toward…everything, and eventually you’ve created a witches’s brew where ‘kidz gone wilding’ on the Plaza is but a fond memory; next ThugsbUs be burning playgrounds and empty homes, biatch.

You have the beginnings of the end. Just ask Detroit.

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But, as I said, I’m not all that upset. Short term I see some possible good coming out of the situation.

 – Academie Lafayette, Our Friend’s school of choice for his daughters,  appears to have gained a much needed second building, Longan. And with Covington’s departure, perhaps the rest of the KCMSD’s repurposing efforts will go more…smoothly.

– The Missouri state board of education, an institution that has never missed an opportunity to sit on its hands out of fear the last 40 years, seemingly now has no choice but to act, if even to only oversee a 5-year plan to dismantle the KCSD. What? You think the district really needs a 143rd chance? What has changed so dramatically that anyone with a spittle of common sense could say in all seriousness: “we’re nearly there.” What data buttresses that sad fantasy: the latest abysmal scores just back from the state? Hell no – Delta House has already been on double-super-secret-probation since…forever. They’re out of chances. 4

Or perhaps you believe Airick West stepping down as board president will have a positive impact? 5 

No, there’s nothing left to be done but disband the district.

I’m sure that notion will cause a lot of knees to spasm. 6 Whatever; the people in the district are already beating feet to other school districts. All that remains is to divy out the majority of the KMCSD to surrounding school districts, keeping only a ‘managable’ number of kids. Say, 5000? 7

Then let the State administer to the diminished KCSD while it overhauls the current administrative infrastructure; with only 5000 kids to look after, surely 75% of the current administration could be pared away? Next a new, un-beholding board and Superintendent could be established by the State and given the reins (down the road.)

It would be a win for everyone. 8

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What I do find criminal is the Star’s role in this debacle. In fact, I will call out Joe Robertson and suggest he be immediately fired.

That may seem harsh if you don’t attend many KCMSD board meetings. 9 However those of us subjected to Covington’s tongue lashings and board member Kelly’s public channeling of imaginary assailants feel simple firing is not enough – Robertson should be run out of town on a rail for his lack of reporting.

Back in February of this year Covington suddenly went off at an open board meeting, ranting and raving about charter schools:

…Jaax, hired by the KCSD to PM the building repurposing project,  had just limned 8 bullet points on the draft building repurposing policy she was presenting to the board for their consideration, when without preamble or warning, and totally unprovoked, Dr. Covington channeled an old Baptist minister, raised his voice on high and preached to the (minusculy assembled {what is it with school board meetings and attendance?}) choir:

 “But those (charter and contract schools) who seem to be friends, but are foes…who come to us in ‘partnership’ only because they wish a building…I say, and this board says, NO! Yesterday, today and tomorrow…NO!”

He did not get an ‘Amen!’, just the most sustained and vigorous applause of the evening. Nor was he done.

“And those schools that want to partner with us, that believe in what the board and district are doing, we’ll be happy to partner…we’ll be happy to hold your charters.”

Joe Robertson’s coverage of this meeting mentioned none of this. And last month’s school board meeting? The one where board member Kelly started off a repurposing ‘discussion’ by screeching:

“They’re trying to murder us. Why should we sell our buildings to people who are trying to murder us? They’re so much better than us; they have better teachers, better students, better curriculum…why help people kill us?”

Nor did Kelly stop there. He went on at length to create poorly constructed parables about coaches and football teams to more handily illustrate his lunacy point. 10

Did Robertson report on Kelly’s obvious lack of sanity basic reasoning skills? Hell no. Has Robertson pointed out board member Benson’s continual spats with president West over West’s perceived ‘micromanaging’ of Covington’s duties? Again, hell no. Did Robertson ever infer that Covington had a roving eye and was less than enchanted with his work here in Kansas City? Again, disappointingly, no, though it has been obvious since early spring that Covington was frustrated with the board.

When Covington announced his resignation last week the Star’s readers should have been so prepared that they would have simply shaken all 10 of their heads and muttered “saw that coming.”

When Covington announced his resignation the new Star publisher, Mi-Ai Parrish, should have been able to call Robertson into her office and direct him to write an analysis on the how and why of Covington’s leaving, to be posted on kansascity.com within the hour.

Instead what we got was Shelly’s public scold,  Diuguid’s even weaker snark and the Star’s official, ‘man, we got played’ editorial. In fact, every Covington-related piece on this page is uniformly bereft of insight or facts.

Over at JimmyCsays, erstwhile Star reporter Fitz inadvertently reinforces my point in his own thoughtful (school board related) post:

– It helped, I think, to bring into full public view the fact that significant problems exist between Benson and West and that those two bookends must reconcile their differences if the board is to move forward effectively.

– It showed that West has to be watched closely and has to learn, if he can, to resist the temptation to dip his hands in contractual matters that are off limits to the board until those matters are brought to the board for discussion and approval.

Neither of the underlined points are news. At least, not to those who attend school board meetings.

Those unlucky folks who depend on Joe Robertson and the Star for their insight into the school board are just out of luck I guess.

Either fire Joe or move him to a beat he can manage to cover.

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Show 10 footnotes

  1. Said knowledge is a.) simply a function of age and, b.) itself a disappointment; turns out I was nowhere near cynical enough in my assumptions.
  2. You want disappointing? Watch this vid and then tell me Mark Knopfler hasn’t turned into Yellow Bastard.
  3. You thought it coincidence that every fast food cash register in America now features food pictures on its screen rather than actual dollars and cents? More fool you – addition and subtraction are things of the past.
  4. Though if I had to bet? You know, place actual, real money, my money on the outcome? Yeah, I’d bet against the state; their track record is as abysmal as KCMSD’s.
  5. It will have an impact alright: Authur Benson v. Derek Richey? Holy shit…I’ve got money says Benson is the board president right after the next election cycle, if not sooner.
  6. No worries. Those misfiring appendages belong to the same people who believe the Sprint Center will find an NBA team to host, that losing the Royals to Arkansas or the Chiefs to anywhere would somehow make KC less of a city, and that subsidizing all the above with our taxes -to the sum of literal millions a year – is a worthy effort, nay, a moral imperative. Right: their judgement has already proven suspect.
  7. Though there are those who don’t believe the KCSD could manage 5 kids.
  8. Again, not that I believe the State has the will to do any of this. Still, one can dream…
  9. And you obviously don’t – I’ve been to the last 10 in a row and the average audience/parent attendance is well under 50. Yes, there are meetings when that number rises significantly, almost always to do with special circumstances involving specific schools and, ergo, specific kids and parents. But on average, for a district that serves ~17K students, 50 people a meeting show up.
  10. Our Friend was also at this particular meeting. In fact he was seated directly in front of the Star’s Lewis Diuguild, who attends a large number of KCSD board meetings. Directly after board member Kelly’s verbal spewing, our friend turned back to Diuguild and had a brief conversation with him: he asked Diuguild whether he “would care to parse” Kelly’s incoherent ramblings. Diuguild gave a little snort and replied ” I wouldn’t want to even try.”

4 thoughts on “KCMSD FUBAR”

  1. I think it’s just a matter of funding. The KCMO school district is criminally short on budget. Perhaps the state, even the Federal Department of Education, shoe send a couple hundred million $$$$ their way so they can afford to pay for facilities and quality staff.

    1. My neighbor claims the problem is twofold:

      1. Not every school has an olympic-sized swimming pool;
      2. Benson is not yet school board president *

      * he managed to get that second one out with a straight face.

  2. But seriously… I agree with your assertion that it’s time to cut bait on the KCSD.

    Tangentially, the excellent NPR Planet Money podcast has done a couple of interesting reports on the value of early childhood/pre-k education. It may be time to give up on any KCSD student currently enrolled and put all the money and resources into the 1-4 year olds, with an eye toward 15 years from now.

    1. I don’t know about “giving up” on them; my contention is the students would actually improve academically by moving to other districts.

      And I agree 100% with early childhood/pre-K education – both our girls did that and they are already pointing out Nora’s and my faults.

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