Category Archives: education

A Screaming Comes Across the Sky

banana-pancakesI was making banana pancakes.

NPR was going on about Bannon’s OMP‘s budget proposal, a blueprint for a societal counterrevolution if I’ve ever seen one; massive increases in spending on both military operations and domestic repression, while pulling a Ripper on domestic social programs (some as much as 30 percent) while eliminating outright dozens of agencies and programs.

I dance into the dining room, a platter of pancakes at the ready, doing my best Vincent Price 1: “A screaming comes across the sky…”


Asta finally shakes her head and mutters “Dad, you’re soooo weird.”

Ima gonna have speaks with that child’s school; this unconscionable. 2

A Screaming Comes Across the Sky

Show 2 footnotes

  1. An excellent imitation, if I say so myself. Had Michael ever heard it he would have had ME doing the voice-over for Thriller.
  2. Speaking of unconscionable, my March Madness bracket is all but bust. And if Kentucky doesn’t win the whole thang, I’m dead in the water. 36 points, people. 36! Freaking ouch.

Southwest High School

Four and a half months after the aborted launch of United at Southwest comes Uniting at Southwest. 1

The new cloud-based WIX web site is attractive, the design a fairly standard (and therefore ubiquitous) presentation, and the copy… Well, let’s talk about the copy. As we noted of the first United at Southwest site, there’s no there there; mostly it’s promotional copy, leavened with a promotional video. 2

However there is some data: The list of individuals on their advisory group has expanded to represent not just the Port Authority, but the Mayor’s office, as well as several well-known Kansas City community leaders and noted business figures.

There are still uncertainties; while Uniting at Southwest says a partnership with KCPS is necessary, the group is also hawking the XQ: The Super Schools Project. It is unclear who would own the building, much less who would be in charge of the day-to-day administration and teaching; what –exactly– would the curriculum be? Would a XQ template be used? Which one? And how would that be implemented? Would this be a “test in” high school? If so, where would the entrance bar be set? And if not, how would acceptance to the school work? Will the school branch out from its (so far minimally) stated goals and attempt to “fix” cultural segregation?

These and many, many, many more queries all go unanswered.

Which is fair enough, we suppose. After all this is nothing (yet) but a marketing campaign, released with the obvious hopes of whipping up and channeling long-term dissatisfaction with the KCPS product into a force that might override the objections of the usual players 3, as well as convince Dr. Bedell to discard the KCPS master plan that calls for Southwest to reopen as a middle school. 4

We wish them luck. 5

Afternoon Update: From commenter Gloria, who reached out to Dr. Bedell’s office:

“There is a group in the Southwest corridor that is trying to rally support to open a charter-esque high school in that building. We have spoken with the leaders of the organization but are not currently involved in the project. I hope this answers your questions. Please let me know if you need anything further.” 6

My 2017 NCAA Bracket

Show 6 footnotes

  1. Though ICANN shows the group waited to claim the CN, through Network Solutions, until February 15, 2017. The ownership of the domain is hidden behind Perfect Privacy. The email for information is as follows: Think the money behind this effort wants to talk with anyone? yeah, me neither.
  2. Produced by XQ – The Super School Project.
  3. Freedom, Inc., KC’s Black United Front, MORE2, SCLC, Urban League & the Urban Summit.
  4. Which means you should expect to see/hear a UASW spokesperson (probably Zeller) on KCPT’s Ruckus and/or KCUR’s Up To Date soonish.
  5. Further information on XQ: XQ Competition Results; Education Next review of the XQ design completion;  Education Weekly blog post about XQ.
  6. Hmmm. Possibilities: Dr. Bedell granted the group the courtesy of a meet-and-greet while remaining noncommittal; the good doctor  enthusiastically supported and encouraged the group behind closed doors only (for fear of upsetting previously named community organizations); the good doctor wanted no part of it. It boggles the mind – why not come right out and say whether you support the Uniting at Southwest efforts? What does that cost you, we wonder?

Betsy DeVos: Religious Zealot

GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski in back-to-back speeches on the Senate floor announced Wednesday that they would oppose Betsy DeVos’s nomination to be Education secretary.

They are the first two Republicans to break with Trump on any of his Cabinet picks, and the votes could make it difficult for DeVos to win confirmation.

If all of the Senate’s Democrats vote against DeVos, she would have 50 votes if the remaining Republicans backed her — with Vice President Mike Pence potentially breaking the tie. No Democrats have backed DeVos.

“I come to the floor to announce a very difficult decision that I have made, and that is to vote against the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be our nation’s next secretary of Education,” Collins said from the Senate floor.

Collins specifically pointed to DeVos’s “lack of familiarly” with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, saying she was “troubled and surprised.”
Murkowski, speaking after Collins, said she had too many concerns to back DeVos.

“I have serious concerns about a nominee to be secretary of Education … who has been so immersed in the discussion of vouchers,” Murkowski said.

This should be another give me for both ReThugs and Dims: It’s clear DeVos’s only qualifications for this post are shit-piles of Amway cash and her desire to enforce, via U.S. taxpayer dollars, her idée fixe with funding religious schools.

However, ima guess that like with Neil “Fascist Forver” Gorsuch, we’ll get at least one Senator with a sudden cash infusion spine problem and DeVos will be free to impinge her idiocy upon our children and Constitution to her heart’s content.

Betsy DeVos: Religious Zealot

Southwest High School

Over the last couple of days we received a few emails noting the United at Southwest innernetz presence had disappeared. A couple of those missives went so far as to infer that perhaps, just perhaps we had imagined the whole thing. One writer actually claimed we were put up to the “prank” by the Trump campaign.

We confirmed this morning that United at Southwest was indeed among the missing.

However, that’s only technically true; as at least 10,000 people a day still discover (often to their horror), nothing truly disappears from the innernetz: Et voilà

United at Southwest front page

United at Southwest front page – click to embiggen.


United at Southwest contact page

United at Southwest contact page – click to embiggen.


UAS also had a FB and Twitter presence; FB was captured, though not the Twitter feed…

United at Southwest FB page

United at Southwest FB page – click to embiggen.


And finally, Mike Zeller fronting for UAS

United at Westport's Mike Zeller

United at Westport’s Mike Zeller – click to embiggen.


As to why all UAS innernetz presence was mostly scrubbed? A couple of thoughts come to mind:

  1. They weren’t ready for prime time; as we noted the other day there were links that did not work, verbiage badly in need of editing, etc etc etc.
  2. It might also have to do with the opening of their mission statement:

United at Southwest will be an open-enrollment public high school (and potentially a middle school) located in the vacant Southwest High School facility that is…

As Dr. Bedell made clear Tuesday evening, he plans “…to follow the KCPS master plan.” And that plan calls for Southwest to reopen as a middle school: “Close SWECC afer SY2016 and designate as the preferred 3rd middle school site.” 1

Should the usual suspects 2 get wind of UAS’s plan, why they just might think that a bunch of “old, rich & privileged white guys” are trying to “steal” SWEC from “the community” and raise the sort of ruckus that caused Dr. Green and the KCPS board to back down from the original Académie Lafayette/KCPS partnership.

We’re jes’ sayin’…

Southwest High School

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Though back in the day, when the master plan was first unleashed publicized, it’s worth noting KCPS had a mind to to lease SWEC, so it could well be SWEC’s ultimate outcome could best be defined as “moving target.”
  2. Freedom, Inc., KC’s Black United Front, MORE2, SCLC, Urban League & the Urban Summit.

Southwest High School

Mike Zeller 1, erstwhile Académie Lafayette board member and a major proponent of the defunct KCPS/A.L partnership to turn the SWEC building into an I.B. high school, is these days fronting for United Southwest. United Southwest wants to create “…an open-enrollment public high school 2 (and potentially a middle school) located in the vacant Southwest High School facility that is:

  • Inclusive – Socioeconomically and culturally diverse & benefiting from strong, neighborhood participation.
  • Rigorous – Equipping   students for success in college, career and life.
  • Independent – Public charter school with an independent governing board enabling programmatic agility, broad-scale participation, and the major philanthropic investments needed for a successful launch.
  • Enduring – A culture, curriculum, and business model for a 100-year institution”

This list of supporters are much the same as the original A.L./KCPS proposal.

Notable, however, is the addition of Joe Perry, Vice President of Real Estate, Port Authority. This is what’s known as a “tell” (in case you’re wondering how this group might acquire SWEC.) 3 4 5

Frankly there isn’t much there there on the new site. Which normally means there’s no real, fully fleshed-out plan, one that details how the Ts were crossed and the I’s dotted. Instead, if pressed, what you’re likely to get is a “Trust us, we know what we’re doing” response.

And you know what? You can go ask the folks involved tonight. The new KCPS Superintendent, Dr. Bedell, as part of his ongoing Listening and Learning tour though the city, will be at the Waldo Library, 201 E 75th St, this evening, starting at 6:30 PM.

Whether you support re-opening Southwest as a project based STEAM school, or you’re openly skeptical of the idea, this is your chance to make your opinion heard.

Southwest High School

Show 5 footnotes

  1. Nope: no mention of Dave Cozad anywhere.
  2. Like the dead A.L./KCSP proposal, this would also be a “hybrid governance” authority , and the emphasis would be on STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art and math. Though there is no mention anywhere of whom those authorities would be comprised.
  3. Also of note on that page is the following: “WHERE WE’VE BEEN We’ve done the research. Diversity is the key. We have visited some of America’s best examples of diverse schools and found that…..” And there it stops. No matter how many times you click the header or sentence, you don’t get to know “what they found.” Oh, bitter disappointment!
  4. Also? We found it instructive that the URI stem for the support page is called /rates.
  5. Finally, the ICANN registration is private, though Crissy Dastrup, Académie Lafayette parent, vocal proponent of the original KCPS/SWEC plan and just incidentally the latest Advisory Council Member of the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, MO, appears to have put the site together. Dastrup was also recently elected to the Académie Lafayette board of directors as a parent representative.

Inappropriate Behavior

A late summer squall appears ready to storm all over the Académie Lafayette board of directors.

In one of those totally stupid moves that only amateur governing bodies seem capable of, the Académie Lafayette board, instead of fully and transparently communicating their efforts to the parents involved, has sat on making any final decisions regarding reported cases of inappropriate behavior toward a few students by one of Académie Lafayette’s (now gone) teachers.

To be clear there is as of this moment no indication of abuse of the students, but a few parents plainly laid out the inappropriate behavior to the board by said teacher last year.

The board promised a response but the parents are still waiting. 1

Expect to read/hear more about this in the near future…

Inappropriate Behavior

Show 1 footnote

  1. Ed.’s Note: It turns out the board did not promise a response to the parents involved; they apparently simply heard the parents out. Yes, that does suck, but the preponderance of the board are attorneys, with the odd political creature and quasi-professional board-sitter added to leaven the mix. If the board would not move to oust Marvin Lyman after his disturbing public performance last September, it certainly wouldn’t dare move on teacher’s inappropriate behavior before, forgive us, “lawyering up.”

Marvin Lyman: The Dénouement

Sent: ‎11/‎12/‎2015 5:25 PM
Subject: Comments RE AL Board

12 November 2015

Mr. Lyman,

We will post an item regarding the outcome(s) of your speech to the
A.L. PTSO this past September and the subsequent board meeting this past
Monday. To that end we wondered…

  • Would you care to comment on Mr. Zeller’s decision to step down from the
    AL board?
  • Would you care to comment on Mr. Cozad’s decision to step down from the AL
  • And most importantly would you care to comment on your decision to not
    step from the AL board, but to only cede your current office? Would you
    also care to comment directly on the comments you gave to the AL PTSO
    meeting this past September?
  • Other thoughts you might like to share?
    Thanks in advance for your time.


On 11/12/2015 8:13 PM, Marvin Lyman wrote:

Thank you for contacting me. I am available to meet with you provided we can agree on a date and time.

Thank you.

On 11/13/2015 5:19 AM, Nick wrote:
13 November 2015

Mr. Lyman,

Thank you for the offer, however past experience teaches that email is in everyone’s best interest: there can be no disagreement of what was asked and answered with an electronic trail. Moreover I find that email allows the subject of an interview the luxury of time, which in nearly all cases results in more nuanced, in-depth responses. Finally, email tends to remove emotions surrounding an issue, which leads to clarity.

I look forward to your responses.


On 11/18/2015 5:38 PM, Nick wrote:
18 November 2015

Mr. Lyman,

Have you perhaps had time to respond to our queries?



…and there the communication ends.

It seems obvious Lyman has declined to comment on his presentation at A.L.’s PTSO September meeting; the better part of cowardice being silence, and all that.

This could be because Mayor James’ people ordered him to keep his runaway mouth shut (Lyman’s LinkedIn profile still shows him as the Treasurer for the Sly James for Mayor Campaign 1) Or it could be because Lyman realizes he doesn’t have a leg to stand on, that his comments at the September A.L. PTSO meeting were, and remain, indefensible. And that decision – since he has clearly decided he needs 2 to remain on the A.L. board – is not only short-sighted, self-serving and stupid, it’s harmful;  the other A.L board directors will remember Lyman’s behavior and soon come to resent his continued presence. If they don’t already.

The honorable, adult action would be for Lyman to immediately resign from the A.L. board, after first apologizing for his public rant. The only remaining question is whether Lyman is capable of owning up to his error in judgment and doing what’s best for Academie Lafayette.

Marvin Lyman: The Dénouement

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Not to mention the Vice Chair of the Académie Lafayette French Immersion Charter School (board of directors), said position he resigned last month. But…hey! We understand, he’s super busy!  We’re sure he’ll update that LinkedIn profile maybe after the holidays, right? Right? Explain why he stepped down from the Vice Chair position. Right?
  2. You decide as to Lyman’s motives; in Japan he would have resigned the next day, perhaps even committed seppuku. However, like Bishop Finn, Lyman doesn’t appear to believe he’s put a foot wrong. Oh, vanity…

Académie Lafayette: PTSO

We were in touch with folks from Académie Lafayette’s PTSO last week RE the Marvin Lyman incident in September. Initially a few members thought to specifically comment, but have since declined, stating that to do so would be “futile and unproductive.”

PTSO’s take is that a Lack of a meaningful response from Lyman (together with Cozad’s & Zeller’s resignations) speak to deeper issues within the AL board; the A.L. PTSO plans to submit a proposal during the A.L. board’s December meeting to address those points.

We were also briefly in touch with Marvin Lyman last week; he offered to sit down with us in person to comment on his presentation at the September PTSO meeting as well as the November A.L. board meeting. We explained our reasons for using email as a vehicle for our enquiries and are still hopeful he will respond, though we have yet to hear back from him.

Académie Lafayette: PTSO

Académie Lafayette: Dave Cozad

We received the following comments from Dave Coazd regarding the recent Académie Lafayette Marvin Lyman/PTSO incident.

I resigned during the board’s closed session discussion of the PTSO meeting events, and to respect the confidentiality of that discussion I have no comment on the specifics of the board’s actions during that session. My resignation speaks for itself.

I will say generally that I believe that the integrity of the parent-elect board member election is very important. The board should not directly interfere with the integrity of the election by publicly supporting or criticizing individual candidates or platforms.

More broadly. I believe that race and diversity issues deserve and need attention at A.L. Today, tomorrow, and always. But I also believe that the school is best served when the board has a constructive working relationship with parents.The board should listen to parents, not lecture them. And engage them, not attack them. I hope the A.L. school community will be able to have thoughtful, respectful, fact-based dialogue about race and diversity issues, and move forward together to ensure the school is a place where all feel welcome and the needs of all students are met.

Attached is a letter to the community from Mr. Zeller and myself.

I wish Académie Lafayette all the best going forward.

Directly below is the letter.

Dear Académie Lafayette Community,

As you might know by now, we resigned from the Board of Directors during a closed-session meeting Monday night because we do not support its current approach to the parent base and its stance on high school expansion.

It has been a privilege to work both for you and with you. By coming together as a school community, we achieved a lot of good things for our growing number of students and families over the last decade. We stand in awe of the work Académie Lafayette teachers and staff perform every day. They are the primary reason the school’s children are such remarkably happy and engaged learners, and how they routinely score among the top schools in Missouri on nearly every measure. Standing right behind them are the AL parents and families who give so much of their time, talent, and money to make this the caring school and successful community it is. Thank you.

As long-time board officers, we also want to thank you for pushing us. You asked hard questions, demanded answers, gave us good ideas, and continually challenged us to do better for kids. It was painful at times, but you guided us and helped us make better decisions. This close and sometimes-messy interaction is at the heart of the charter school movement and it’s one of the reasons Académie Lafayette has come to be such an excellent program. As you know, the board is accountable to you, its primary stakeholder; and we hope you continue to do big things for Kansas City kids, together.

The greatest threat this school faces is complacency. When organizations mature, they sometimes lose their esprit de corps and their drive to get better. It’s easy to slip into a place where the going is good so you assume it always will be, where you think, “I don’t need to volunteer or to lead, someone else will.” Please don’t let that happen at your school.

The issue of race and diversity is receiving needed attention at schools and universities across the country, and we believe it needs to be addressed at A.L. too. These are complex and emotional issues that involve forces well beyond the school; but we are confident that Académie Lafayette can nonetheless make progress in the manner you always have: through respectful, constructive and fact-based dialogue. It will require trusted and engaged leadership, but you can create a safe environment where all stakeholders (board members, parents, teachers, administrators) can openly share their views and can come together around solutions. Académie Lafayette is an open-enrollment public school that must be a place where everyone feels welcome, participates, and the needs of all of its students and families are met.

Finally, the really important thing we left undone is providing an IB high school option for A.L. families; but we remain deeply committed to making this happen. While A.L. leadership continues to examine its possibilities, we are exploring an alternative path. We are assembling a diverse team of civic leaders, educators and philanthropists in an effort to launch an independent, college-prep high school with enough scale and resources to be truly world-class. Without placing any stress on the A.L. K-8 program, this independent high school would become large enough to accommodate A.L. graduates along with other college-bound students from across the city. And, just as it was for the founders of Académie Lafayette and for the opening of the Cherry Campus, this will be a community effort. So, please stay tuned . . . we’ll need your help.

Dave Cozad & Mike Zeller
Past President and Vice President, Académie Lafayette BOD

Académie Lafayette: Dave Cozad