Monday, February 28, 2011

Much Ado About Nothing (Important)

There seems to be a bit of a kurfluffle in the sixth district. Amongst the myriad of screenings and questionnaires that were overly prevalent during the recent primary season, there was one by a group called Kansas Citians United for Educational Achievement. It was sent out by Airick Leonard West who is president of the KCMSD school board and from what I’ve been told, all the questions pertained to that school district and what the city could do to help them.

First, I find it a little presumptuous to think the city should help them when they’re not the only school district in the City. The City doesn’t have resources enough to provide basic services, let alone help out even one school district.

Secondly, education is a state function and has delegated many responsibilities to a locally elected school board which is then responsible for the district. If Mr. Leonard can’t figure out how to accomplish what needs to be done without involving the City, maybe he’s the wrong person to be leading the district.

Anyway, this all came to my attention because the incumbent, who is running for yet another term on the city council, mailed out a flyer saying his opponent is against education. I’ve talked to his opponent at some length about this and was very heartened by his response. There are 5 school districts at least partially within the sixth district and it would be Mr. Nash’s intent to treat all equally and fairly while being mindful of who actually has the authority to provide for school districts.

Apparently, according to the flyer, Mr. Nash was given the ‘grade’ of an F. While there is no way to tell exactly what this was based on, it tells me that Mr. West might have been more inclined to give a higher score if Mr. Nash had shown a preference for KCMSD. The flyer also says the incumbent was given the ‘grade’ of A+. I’ve checked the website and cannot find the actual responses, though I did find the rather subjecticive rubric used to grade the candidates; but to receive an A+, it seems the answers provided were exactly what Mr. Leonard was looking for. I have to wonder if the same questions were posed by the other districts in Kansas City, if the incumbent would provide the same answers. That would mean using precious city resources for issues which are beyond the City’s pale. The City may as well get into the business of running school districts (even though it doesn’t always do a good job of running itself). If that is not the incumbent’s intent, the only other conclusion I can draw, is that he has a preference for the KCMSD over the others he purportedly represents.

From the investigating I’ve been able to do, it seems there was not just the questionnaire that was sent out. The candidates were also scheduled for interviews; however, the night for in-district candidates was canceled because of weather and never rescheduled. That means Mr. West provided grades solely on written statements and did not have the benefit of examining or questioning the meaning behind those statements. I have to wonder how upset he would be to know that a teacher in his district provided for written and oral questioning of some of her students and only written questions for others; yet, graded them all the same.