Lisa Gooden was set on finding the right school for her children in Kansas City.
The choices were complex — public, private, charter, signature — but she felt good about all the buildings she visited. There were probably a dozen or so public elementaries within a couple miles of her neighborhood, so she didn’t understand why other parents supported a proposal to open yet another school nearby.
After listening to several years of complaints about a lack of quality options, she surmised that, perhaps subconsciously, middle-class whites didn’t want their kids in schools made up mostly of minorities or poor students.
That led her to submit a question to curiousKC: When will we talk about integration? Which schools are integrated? Have integration plans? The effect of charter schools on integration?
“I think that there’s many things at play when people are thinking about schools,” Gooden said. “And, I think some of it is perception, what they might have heard about the schools, even though they may not have even toured it or may not have even known someone enrolled there.”
Some might argue there has been plenty of talk about integration within Kansas City Public Schools, along with a fair amount of action. The latter includes a long-running school desegregation case, which saw more than $2 billion in taxpayer money spent to redress what courts had determined to be illegal segregation in the city’s schools.
Now, as far as which schools are integrated, you can use the interactive graphic below — created with data from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — to draw your own conclusions. The data includes public and charter schools in the Kansas City Public School district from 2015-2016. It covers the three predominant demographic groups for our area. (The map is best viewed on desktop.)
In Gooden’s opinion, more-integrated schools would improve “the whole education landscape in our city.”
Gooden wishes something like New York Appleseed or the Sheff Movement would get started in Kansas City. The two organizations highlight school choice, equity and integration in New York City and Connecticut, respectively.
“In Kansas City, we also need to be discussing this,” she said. “The community and media discuss ‘quality school choices,’ ‘good’ and ‘bad’ schools, but I think that dialogue is narrow and misleading.”
AnnMarie Welser is a multimedia intern for Flatland. She is a senior studying convergence journalism at the University of Missouri — Columbia. AnnMarie is a Chicago native currently residing in Kansas City, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Take Note, an education project from KCPT, has also been looking into the question of segregation, school financing, and the history of both in our area:
Should where a child rests his or her head at night impact the quality of the education they receive? KCPT and American Public Square examine the relationship between poverty, housing and education in our metro in this town hall conversation. Panelists: Dr.
School funding is a topic that regularly makes headlines but isn’t often understood. With so much at stake, Take Note breaks down the complex subject and finds the devil is in the details.
Got a question about Kansas City, the region or the people who live here? Anything you’ve always wondered about, found peculiar or downright confusing? Share your questions with KCPT’s curiousKC