Failing Grade

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 10:59am

Kansas City schools stripped of their academic accreditation.

At Kansas City's Crispus Attucks Elementary School, after school childcare ends at 6 p.m. every day.

However, for Ron Banks, Jr., a kindergartner, work is just beginning.

“We are going to do homework as soon as we get home,” said Ronald Banks, Ron’s father. “Basically, it’s education first and we’ll get to playing and all that later.”

Banks pushes his son to achieve more than his parents.

He loves Junior’s progress, but, they have a problem.

“I’m very disappointed, very disappointed,” Banks said.

On Tuesday Kansas City public schools lost accreditation.

“This was the only recourse that we have,” said Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s Education Commissioner during a meeting with state board of education members.

Nicastro and the state board said sinking achievement scores in Kansas City left no them no choice.

“It tears you apart to be able to do something that you think is going to re-manufacture the district,” said Stan Archie, Vice President of the state board.

Starting January 1, 2012, Kansas City students can transfer to any accredited school in Jackson, Clay, Platte or Cass counties.

In Independence, school administrators fear potential strains on space and money until Missouri courts clarify transfer rules in the Turner v. Clayton case.

“One of the questions we have is what will the legislature do if anything,” said Dr. Jim Hinson, Superintendent of Independence schools.

Though not in session until January, Missouri lawmakers are doing more than watching.

Senate education committee chair David Pearce said he expects to do a lot of work with colleagues before January.

“A lot of folks will be meeting and talking, holding hearings, possibly talking about some legislative fixes and things like that,” Pearce said.

One option is to shorten Kansas City’s two-year grace period given by state law for the district to re-gain accreditation.

That would allow a state takeover.

If that happens, state authorities could appoint a counselor to guide local board decisions or dissolve the district altogether.

“Quite honestly, I think it’s too early to tell,” Pearce said.

Meanwhile, people like Ronald Banks do not see positives.

He sees only pain.

“It’s hurting us,” Banks said.

The district will be holding two town hall meetings for concerned parents.

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