KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A political battle of words is on between the Kansas City Missouri School District and Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James, and to the victors could go control of what the U.S. Secretary of Education calls the worst school district in the nation.
On Thursday afternoon, Kansas City, Mo., school district interim superintendent Stephen Green held a press conference in which he called a proposal from James to give control of the district to a board of education professionals appointed by the mayor’s office nothing more than campaign rhetoric, telling reporters that it’s time to do more than just talk.
“It almost sounds like a political campaign,” said Green, who believes that James’ proposal, and other proposals from area politicians, are driven by their own self interests, not the district’s interests. “We need to stop the talking. It’s been a lot of talking a lot of campaign rhetoric and I refuse to continue to let this district be used as a campaign platform for individuals who have political gain.”
Green says that the district’s teachers, staff and board members have been working hard to fix the deeply troubled district, which lost its state accreditation on January 1. He says that in the beginning of the year, the district met only three of the state’s 14 requirements for accreditation, but now the district meets five of the requirements.
“That is where the focus should be. It should be on the work,” said Green, who says that he has met with every principal in the district to find ways to turn the long-struggling school district around.
Green says that the district has been working with area businesses like AMC and Sprint to offer incentives aimed at keeping enrollment up. He claims that there has been more progress there than in any attempts by political figures.
“Why can’t an elected official pick up a phone and call somebody, or call a student who we where trying reclaim, that’s dropped out,” said Green.
A spokesperson for James’ office says that they aren’t interested in getting into a back-and-forth argument with Green, adding that they are both on the same page in wanting what’s best for students in the district.