More government school FAIL – KC edition

According to this the Kansas City government school system has failed so spectacularly that they’re looking to close almost half of their schools next year to avoid huge money shortfalls. What makes this story even more ironic is that KC has spent mountains of cash to make the system better – without measurable performance results. Are you surprised?

Kansas City was held up as a national example of bold thinking when it tried to integrate its schools by making them better than the suburban districts where many kids were moving. The result was one school with an Olympic-sized swimming pool and another with recording studios.Now it’s on the brink of bankruptcy and considering another bold move: closing nearly half its schools to stay afloat.

Schools officials say the cuts are necessary to keep the district from plowing through what little is left of the $2 billion it received as part of a groundbreaking desegregation case.

Buffeted for years by declining enrollment, political squabbling and a revolving door of leadership, the district’s fortunes are so bleak that Superintendent John Covington has said diplomas given to many graduates “aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.”

Lovely – and here we’ve been told all along that we’re not spending enough on education. This is a prime example of just how wrong that concept is.

Kansas City appeared headed for a recovery when a federal judge in 1985 declared the district was unconstitutionally segregated. To boost test scores, integrate the schools and repair decrepit classrooms, the state was ordered to spend about $2 billion to address the problems.

The district went on a buying spree that included a six-lane indoor track and a mock court complete with a judge’s chamber and jury deliberation room. But student achievement remained low, and the anticipated flood of students from the suburbs turned out to be more like a trickle. Court supervision of the desegregation case ended in 2003.

And to this day, the district continues to lose students. In the late 1960s enrollment peaked at 75,000, dropped to 35,000 a decade ago and now sits at just under 18,000.

At the height of spending in 1991-92, Kansas City invested more than $11,700 per student—more than double that year’s national average of $5,001, according to U.S. Census figures. Today, the district spends an average of $15,158 on each student, compared to a national average of $9,666 in 2006-07, the latest figures available.

Naturally the teachers unions and many parents are upset. They are wondering what happened to all the money and how this could be happening. This should be no surprise to anyone. Overspending on a declining school enrollment is not something that happens overnight. The people in charge have seen this coming for a while and they are the ones who failed.

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