How We Got Here — A Kansas City Education Timeline


– [Narrator] To take note
means to pay attention. This is our city, our schools
and it’s our future at stake. But it we’re to realize the
dream of a better future, we have to revisit the past
in issues that have taken decades to develop. Take Note is going to
examine events and characters that will make you proud,
angry and uncomfortable, but it’s necessary
because from Hickman Mills to Bonner Springs, from
Blue Valley to Independence. The quality of our K
through 12 education systems here in the Kansas City
Metro impacts us all. The Kansas City,
Missouri school district came to be in 1867. Soon, public schools were
required for all children, so long as whites were educated in schools separate from blacks. Students entered the work
force between the ages of 11 and 13, if they
did go to high school, Kansas City Central High
was the most prestigious. Before 1900, Quality
Hill was home to the Kansas City’s elite. That wouldn’t last. The winds of change blew off
the growing stock yards below, making the neighborhood
less than desirable. Luxury homes became boarding
houses to increasing numbers of blacks and
immigrants seeking work. By 1910, Quality Hill
was deemed a slum. A young Olathe born man named James Clyde Nichols
observed it all. He developed the Mission
Hills Country Club district. J. C. sold more than homes,
he sold a way of life that included planned parks,
churches and yes, schools. He also used something
called restrictive covenants to ensure property
values remained stable. Those covenants specify
who the property could and couldn’t be sold
to in the future. Expansion outward continued. In 1922, Shawnee Mission
Rural High opened. The Great Depression created
an unintended consequence. With so few jobs
available, teens began to stay longer in school. In 1948, tensions developed
when South Park Elementary was built in Johnson
County as an alternative to the outdated Walker
Elementary School. South Park, however,
didn’t allow blacks. Teachers Corinthian Nutter and
Hazel Weddington protested. By 1949, the Kansas
Supreme Court had ruled that a public schools
system couldn’t segregate students because of race. In 1954, Brown vs
Board of Education made segregation
illegal nationwide. Sprawl became an enormous
concern for Kansas City city mananger L. P. Cookingham. The population and tax base
was continuing to decline. Cookingham responded
by annexing land. By the 1960’s, the city had
grown by more than 200 miles, but the Kansas City school
district remained the same size. In 1965, the Olathe
school district was formed via consolidation. In 1968, the Shawnee Mission
school district was formed. By 1970, student’s scores in
Kansas City began falling. In 1977, a Kansas City,
Missouri school district sued the state of behalf
of the district’s students to correct racial inequality. The litigation would be the
driving factor in Kansas City education for the next 26 years. In 1985, US History Court
Judge, Russel Clarke, found the state of Missouri was
liable for segregated schools. And multi-million dollar
remedies were set in motion to improve facilities
and programs. Magnet schools were established
to attract white students, but by 1995, the district
had little to show for the expenditures in
terms of improving scores. Missouri authorizes the creation of charters schools in 1998. By 1999, the Kansas
City school district couldn’t meet even
one of the academic performance standards
and lost accreditation. Growth and prosperity
was seen primarily on the Kansas side of the
state line in districts including Blue Valley,
Olathe and Shawnee Mission. In 2005, the Kansas
State Supreme Court directs lawmakers to come
up with a plan to provide more funding to K
through 12 schools. The year 2007 brought the
Independence districts annexation of seven
schools from Kansas City. Then Super Intendant,
John Covington, called for the closure of 29
of the district’s 61 schools. In the fall of 2016,
the Kansas City district hits the full accreditation
mark for the first time in nearly three decades. That same year, the
Kansas Supreme Court finds that funding to K through
12 schools is unequitable. There’s so much to examine,
so much to do, so Take Note. This is our city, our
schools, our future. (slow playful music)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *