How much do you value your right to be represented by a duly elected official? It matters a lot to me. I bristle at appointed representation that is not accountable to me, the voter. I recognize that there are instances and circumstances where it is more expedient to have such. But when you mess around with my existing elected systems, I really get mad.
The Kansas City Missouri School Board is about to be replaced. The state Commissioner of Education, Chris Nicastro, has asked the duly elected School Board members to step aside by January 1. They will be replaced by an appointed board. And not just any board, but a politically negotiated board that has been in the works for some months. Key civic leaders have been organizing behind their closed doors with this state appointee to overthrow the KCMSD Board of Directors in a civic/bureaucratic coup. My hyperbole aside, this is a real abrogation of our democratic process.
A parent-led resistance has formed and is engaging all communities in the KCMSD to stand up for Our Children, Our Schools, and Our Voice. Here is a link to their press release, issued on Oct. 31, 2011
Their concerns are justifiably centered on what the state plans to do once it takes over the district.
Our Children are not known to the leaders in Jeff City and one look at how St. Louis has turned out under their supervision is enough to give pause to any parent.
Our Schools are currently implementing a transformation plan that 350 Kansas City residents, parents, and leaders worked on and support. The state is coming in without a plan. Will they stay the course? Will they come up with something new? Will their appointees break faith with those that have already begun the work of this plan?
Our Voice is being silenced by the state that is "interpreting" away the customary 2 year window to regain accredited status, despite their earlier statements assuring that they would not take over the district anytime soon. The fact that the state Commissioner of Education has seen fit to meet secretly with certain civic leaders to hatch this plan for takeover, is in itself a rebuff of our open government system.
I am not absolving the KCMSD of their poor performance in the past 40 years. I have, however, chosen to stand with the transformative leadership, plan, and progress that is currently taking hold in the district. Our scholars deserve the best. What makes anyone think that Jeff City, via an appointed board, is what they deserve?
Others are supporting Our Children, Our Schools, Our Voice for their own reasons. I urge you to look at the statement of our District Advisory Council of parents and Teachers' Union. Stand with these Kansas City residents and KCMSD parents and leaders who know our children and schools better than anyone. Decisions are afoot and will be confirmed December 1 and implemented January 1. There is no time to waste.