The education of Kansas City’s children is the City’s most fundamental economic development tool. Citywide education reform is no small undertaking – the Kansas City’s students attend 15 different school districts and there are more than 130 schools inside City limits. Regardless of strategy or approach within these school districts,, Kansas City needs a unified vision for educational progress.
Without functional control over any district, the Mayor has focused his efforts on issues common to all students in Kansas City. After laying early groundwork, he established Turn the Page KC in year two of his administration. Turn the Page focuses on third grade reading proficiency, attendance levels, the summer learning gap, school readiness and data collection. The organization also facilitates opportunities for volunteers to be reading tutors throughout the City.
Mayor James has also hired the first Educational Advisor to ever serve in a Kansas City Mayor’s Office, Julie Holland. Julie’s work focuses on developing innovative community partnerships to support student achievement across Kansas City’s 15 school districts. The City needs to continue looking at how it can replicate current success stories and increase academic achievement among young people.
In a highly competitive, globalized world, educational excellence is survival and educational excellence is economic development. Higher educational attainment reduces crime in neighborhoods and quality schools spur economic development. Mayor James will continue to forge progress on these fronts.