In January 2014, Joe Robertson, of the Kansas City Star, wrote the following about the CEE-Trust proposal for Kansas City public school reform to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE):
The plan caters to charter schools — public schools that operate independently of school districts. But they would not be charter schools. They would be accountable to the district’s Community School Office.
Funding would flow through the district, and the school operators would maintain high degrees of independence only as long as they met their performance agreements.
The central office would own and maintain the buildings, operate bus services for all the schools and coordinate a lottery-based enrollment process with a standard expulsion policy.
In a Feb. 8 Kansas City Star editorial titled “Don’t Embrace Experimental Overhaul,” the paper opposed the proposed reform:
Sustained board leadership has been a challenge for many charter schools in Kansas City. We also question whether a collection of independently run schools, some of which would enroll students through a lottery, would appeal to families looking at Kansas City as a place to live. Strong neighborhood schools in a stable district seem a more reliable option.
As for the latter question, we’ve already written about independently run schools attracting students. But on June 26, the same Star editorial board heralded the school district partnership with Academie Lafayette, writing:
An unprecedented agreement with the Academie Lafayette charter school shows an encouraging willingness to be innovative.
Plans call for the district and Academie Lafayette to start up a high school that would offer the rigorous international baccalaureate program. It would be housed at the Southwest Early College Campus at 6512 Wornall Road, and could open as early as the fall of 2015…
The move puts children and families first and represents a radical departure from the often tense relationships among traditional districts and the charter schools that states have set up as alternative public options.
The Star at first decries the “experimental overhaul” of CEE-Trust, but just months later champions “an unprecedented” “radical departure,” which seems to amount to exactly the same thing. They write that this new option “puts children and families first,” but in fact it only does so for children and families at one school. Why not everyone in the district? What is it about the children and families at Academie Lafayette that warrants special attention?