Category Archives: KCPS

Southwest High School

UASW
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 unitingatsouthwest.com 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: 27qajajokkju6bmuc354ktjgt8@domaindiscreet.com. 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?

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.

Marvin Lyman: The Dénouement

From: nick@willnotbetelevised.com
Sent: ‎11/‎12/‎2015 5:25 PM
To: marvinllyman@something.isp.com
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
    board?
  • 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.

Regards,
Nick

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

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.

Regards,
Nick

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

Mr. Lyman,

Have you perhaps had time to respond to our queries?

Thanks.

Regards,
Nick

…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…

KCPS Master Plan

Last night the KCPS released their long awaited Master Plan. It’s a 74-page Death-by-PowerPoint monstrosity that details a retrenching of the dysfunctional school district: it trims administrative overhead, redraws boundaries and shutters more schools.

One of the schools slated to close is SWECC, the McGuffin in the most recent KCPS/Académie Lafayette charter school controversy. Then, waaaaaaaaay in the back, on page 72 or 73, the Plan notes that SWECC should be leased. 1

There’s more, but read it for yourself.

Or don’t and instead attend one of the four presentations of the Plan KCPS will host this month:

  • 5 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 11 at Northeast Middle School, 4904 Independence Ave.
  • 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14 at Paseo Academy, 4747 Flora
  • 1 to 3 p.m, Saturday, Nov. 14 at Central Academy, 3221 Indiana Ave.
  • 5 to 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 16 at Rogers Elementary, 6400 E. 23rd Street.

KCPS Master Plan

Show 1 footnote

  1. Wow! Who would have ever seen that one coming?!

Green Taking Extra Green to Atlanta?

There’s a small chance we’ll discover this evening when Dr. Green intends to leave for the DeKalb School District during his press conference. If so we’ll also know whether he’s planning on sticking around just to snare another $100K for nuthin’.

If Dr. Green stays through June 30th, he stands to collect an additional estimated $100,000 from KCPS rather than resigning today. His contract with the DeKalb district starts on July 1st, so it’s feasible he may and try and soak KC for some “moving money.”

Guess we’ll know in a couple of hours. 1

Green Taking Extra Green

Show 1 footnote

  1. Hat tip to real behind the scenes Kansas City education watchers.

KCPS Goes Greenless

It appears that Dr. Green is leaving the good ship KCPS 1 :

R. Stephen Green, the superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools, is expected to take over the top job for the DeKalb County School District, according to more than one person with knowledge of the search.

Green is currently in the middle of a five-year contract with Kansas City, which includes a three-year contract and two one-year extensions that would keep him there until June 2018. He started with the district in August 2011 as interim superintendent. He took the job permanently in 2012.

Here is Green’s official bio:

R. Stephen Green, Ed.D., was named superintendent of schools of Kansas City Public Schools by a unanimous vote of the Board of Directors in April 2012. At that time, KCPS was unaccredited by the state of Missouri. Under Dr. Green’s leadership, KCPS earned 92.5 points towards the state of Missouri’s school achievement standards in 2014. That was 8.5 points more than the what the school district earned in 2013, and a 54.5-point leap from the 2012 results. In August 2014, Missouri’s Board of Education recognized the gains made by the school district by granting KCPS provisional accreditation.

We suspect that the shake-up of the KCPS administrative infrastructure that Nicastro was thwarted from completing had something to do with this.

As well as what we hear are going to be disappointing MAP scores this late summer.

The good news is that Académie Lafayette didn’t enter into a contract with KCPS over the use of SouthWest: who knows what the next Superintendent will want to do?

Or, inevitably another couple of years down the road, the one after that?

Nicastro should have been listened to instead of being pilloried.

KCPS Goes Greenless

Show 1 footnote

  1. Which, like his esteemed predecessor, is waaaaay early: Green has 3 years left on a 5 year contract. Good grief people, will you never learn?

Big Money Revealed

That there was big money behind the proposed Academie Lafayette-KCPS partnership at SWEC was never in doubt; that the putative donors were mostly interested in restoring SWEC’s erstwhile standard of excellence was also a given. So the contents of the below letter (forwarded our way last night by three different people) came as no surprise.

However, the context surely did: it appears a divided AL board stepped back from negotiations with KCPS once the black-oriented community organizations, churches and their supporters started playing the race card. This was undoubtedly exacerbated by the fact that KCPS Superintendent Dr. Green allowed AL to be tarred with that brush instead of stepping forward to defend the tentative partnership he so greatly desires.

But the pro-KCPS faction of the AL board (lead, we would surmise, by Cozad and Zeller) brought out the Stower letter 1 last night in an effort to change other board members’ positions. And this after the usual suspects –all directly related to AL in one fashion or another– reiterated their pro-KCPS stance. 2 3

We are unsure how the fact of this letter will play out within the AL board; will it give those members who walked away from KCPS some reason to return? 4 Or will it harden their initial resolve given how the letter was used as a cudgel in an open forum?

Of more interest, however, is what the Star will make of this once the news is spoon fed to Joe Robertson. Because the names in this letter are sure to stir up some emotions: perhaps, in certain parts of town, not all of them positive.

Which seems to indicate Stowers and the other civic leaders named below are playing their hole card – they’re willing to take whatever public heat (if any) this generates in the black/African-American community in order to restore their beloved SWEC to its prime.

There is more to this, much more. But for the moment, enjoy the read:

 

stower_1
stower_2
Big Money Revealed

Show 4 footnotes

  1. Indeed we hear that Zeller actually read the entire letter, though we’re not sure why. We were told the missive had been passed out at the beginning of the meeting so surely the audience had already perused it.
  2. With the race card prominently displayed: Our Friend mentioned that Terry Riley’s wife (who has a child in AL) claimed their were diversity issues at Academie Lafayette. Which is interesting as the 2010 census counts KC proper as 59.2% white, 29.9% black or African-American, and the rest a polyglot similar to what seeded this country. Which is within 4-5 percentage points of Academie Lafayette’s actual student make-up, the difference undoubtedly originating from AL’s policy of automatically admitting siblings: when founded AL was predominantly white. However we guess the diversity issue just sounds good and Mrs. Riley assumed no one would correct her.
  3. Our Friend also noted that Mrs. Riley is a far more eloquent speaker than her husband, who was also in attendance last night, and who also spoke to the board, claiming he had made clear to the black-oriented community organizations, churches and their supporters that they had “misunderstood” AL’s intent and that Al should pick up negotiations with KCPS because everything would now be fine. Fine? Is there anything you can remember from Riley’s tenure on the city council that could be defined as fine? We can’t. Wait…at least he didn’t pull a Michael Brooks, right?
  4. To be clear: Our Friend noted that this letter of financial support, this particular money package, would at least be amended if not outright withdrawn should AL not end up in SWEC. There might be capital to incubate an AL high school…elsewhere. But not nearly as much as this pledge, perhaps less than a fifth.

Fan Mail From Some Flounder

From: White Rabbit
Sent: Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 3:11 PM
To: balckhole23@gmail.com
Subject: SWECC

Good morning, Nick.

Earlier today Académie Lafayette released a notice detailing their reasons for “stepping away” from negotiations with KCPS for SWECC. I have the sneaky feeling there’s more going on than what they state: what say you?

Regards,
White Rabbit…

Dear WR,

Hmmm…here’s a scenario for you:

Recently KCPS announced SWECC requires $22 million in renovations.

This is somewhat of a surprise as less than 5 years ago KCPS stated SWECC only needed $3.1 mil in rehab. However the new $22 mil figure serendipitously gives KCPS an “out” to their vexing problem: they can just close the place. In fact today Dr. Green stated that he would only guarantee that SWECC would stay open through next school year. Which means he’ll close SWECC as soon as decency allows. 1

Then…suddenly…SWECC is up for sale! Wow, who’d of thought?

And as rumor would have it, there’s already a buyer champing at the bit to snap up SWECC: Bob Berkebile. 2 Ol’ Bob’s the founder and partner at Sustainable Partners.

Now maybe ol’ Bob hasn’t actually had a sit down, face-to-face with Académie Lafayette about SWECC, but we’ll give you 5 to 8 that someone from Sustainable Partners has done so. And more than once, at that. Were you a fly 3 on the wall those conversations would have seemed eerily familiar:

[putative conversation]
X: Hey! You know what? We’ll will lease a portion of the SWECC building we’re buying to you for next to nuthin’
O: Seriously?
X: Hell to the yeah! The neighbors would look more kindly on us if we keep a school in the mix of eclectic condos, chic gyms and posh art galleries and cafes we’re planning on developing.
O: Sounds good to us.
[/putative conversation – (isn’t this reminiscent of last summer’s Foutch Brothers/Académie Lafayette/Westport High School ménage à trois ?)]

Et voila! A couple years down the line Académie Lafayette has a high school in SWECC. 4

That’s what I say. 5 6

Fan Mail From Some Flounder

Show 6 footnotes

  1. No need for a vote by the pesky school board – simply decree “the cost to renovate is prohibitive.”
  2. Yes, Gunnar Hand’s direct report at BNIM, THAT Bob Berkebile.
  3. Or, given the latest valuation of SWECC, more likely a fly speck, a smeared globule of once-fly left behind by a harried teacher’s filthy plastic swatter.
  4. And all without having to pander to KC’s Black United Front, Freedom, Inc. (who let their internet domain fail, hence no link), MORE2, SCLC, Urban League, or the Urban Summit…because it will then be a 100% Académie Lafayette Joint. No partnership with KCPS.
  5. If by I one means a whole bunch of people who have been watching this process for a number of years; credit where credit’s due.
  6. Of course all the above assumes Académie Lafayette wants SWEC so bad it’s willing to wait until the 2016-17 school year – that’s the earliest this scenario would work, and maybe not until 2017-18. A lot can happen in the interim; if Académie Lafayette’s board wants a high school, they would have a serious Plan B, right?

The Other Shoe

The other shoe officially dropped this morning.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Southwest Early College Campus (SWECC) school in Kansas City, Mo., will remain open for the 2015-16 school year.

That’s a change of plans for the school. Earlier this year, Kansas City Public School District leaders announced they were forming a partnership with Academie Lafayette to form a new school in the SWECC building by 2015. Now district leaders are not sure what will become of SWECC.

“We are guided by the process,” KCPS Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green said. “We had hoped we would be ready by 2015, but that was not the case.”

This should not be a surprise. Any one who reads this site could have easily predicted this faux pas.

According to Our Friend members of the Académie Lafayette board held a special meeting for its 8th grade parents a month ago wherein the parents were strongly encouraged to seek high school placement for their children elsewhere. Indeed one board member was already making those arrangements for their own child.

The parents were told the notional Académie Lafayette IB high school was probably going to be placed on hold until at least the 2016-2017 school year, with an outside possibility that SWEC would not be ready for the Académie Lafayette/KCPS partnership until 2019. Our Friend said that the 8th grade parents were told the final decision would be relayed to them by the beginning of January.

We guess the Académie Lafayette board won’t have to bother now, n’est-ce pas?.

The Académie Lafayette board also sent out a school-wide questionnaire enquiring if parents would be willing to “incubate” the AL IB high school within the confines of their current 3-8 Oak Street campus. And if so, how likely would those parents be willing to send their children to the notional high school in another building (not SWEC 1) if and when Académie Lafayette found one?

Left out of the questionnaire were salient points: would KCPS scholars be attending the “incubated” high school at Oak? How would that work? In what proportion would those scholars be arriving? How would the IB high school be separated from the rest of the lower classes? How long would the “incubated” high school stay at Oak -the facility is stretched to max now?

Our Friend said the evening was pretty much a disaster. This is not the first time the AL board has spun grandiose schemes to its constituency only to have those goals sharply reduced; many of the parents in attendance that night were counting on the new AL IB school. Now, suddenly they have to find another educational solution.

Hillary in 2016

There’s more.

The AL board — up to this past Monday evening– had an open comment period at both the start and end of its public meetings, the better to listen to and serve its constituency. No more. Our Friend informed us that the AL board voted to just allow open comments at the beginning of the meetings, and then only if the parent/teacher/staffer signed up to do so in advance, would only be allotted 3 minutes to speak, and would (possibly) be informed in advance that the AL board would not respond to their concerns. 2

Then there’s Dr. Green, bonus money and the KCPS.

We’ve been sitting on some information passed our way more than 2 months ago simply because we have had little time to share it. We will correct that omission tonight. {Or…not; we collated the material but haven’t yet had time to present it. Soon…}

In the meantime you might pass this info on to any Académie Lafayette 8th grade parent you might happen to know: not everyone watches KSHB. 3

Hillary in 2016

Show 3 footnotes

  1. The only way AL can move into SWEC is via donor monies; the school needs millions in rehab. And frankly the donors involved in the original AL/KCPS proposal are only interested in using SWEC; they wish to see SWEC become the shining educational star it once was. Which is to say…if AL/KCPS decide to use another facility, the donors and their cash will not follow. You read that right, the donors are more interested in rehabbing SWEC than in education, per se.
  2. The details (where the sign-up sheets would be posted; exact number of days/times allowed to sign-up, et cetera) were pretty nebulous to Our Friend; he said by the time the public meeting was over and the board called for (the very last) open comment period he was pissed – he was of the opinion the move stank of censorship and was quick to let the board know it. The board, he said, disagreed. Big surprise, right?
  3. Though I’m sure those worthies would like to think so.