Former Lee’s Summit superintendent continues fight for educational equity at local event

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Educational equity isn't a just another buzz word for Dr. Dennis Carpenter.

He’s been a huge advocate in the fight to make sure that every student, in every school, has a voice and a level playing field to succeed.

"I think often times those who are being privileged by the current system, they feel that any conversation about equity is going to make them oppressed,” Carpenter said.

Five months after stepping down as Lee's Summit superintendent, Carpenter continues his fight and recruited hundreds of soldiers Wednesday night in the form of teachers, educators, students and community stakeholders.

Carpenter was the keynote speaker of a public conversation titled, "Why Equity? Why Now?"

The event was the second in a series of discussions hosted by The Roundtable, founded by Kiona Sinks and Nicole Jacobs Silvey. Each discussion is focused on addressing and tackling some of the area’s biggest issues with straight forward discussions.

Carpenter, who resigned in July after two years at the helm of Lee's Summit schools, said he was often met with resistance when trying to promote equity in the district.

“How does a black or brown child live, learn and grow when their spirit is under attack at school?” Carpenter asked.

Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell was among those in attendance.

“It’s a conversation that’s way past due,” Bedell said.

“Implicit bias is something that needs to be checked at the door,” he added.

Since taking the lead of KCPS, Bedell has instituted a series of changes, including hiring an equity officer, instituting policies and bringing implicit bias training to the district.

Carpenter called on more educators to be involved in the fight like Bedell.

Teacher Brian McDavitt said he’s enjoyed watching Carpenter fight for students. He plans to take his message and implement it with is students at Hickman Mills.

"I just want to learn more about racial equity and how I can better serve the students that I currently serve in my building," McDavitt said.

Since resigning, Carpenter said he's been doing consulting work and recently returned from a two-week trip to Africa after meeting with top education leaders there.

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