In an effort to end run desegregation, Independence residents will be asked to vote to absorb seven schools currently in the Kansas City School District. The move would involve around 2,220 students and a large tax base that currently belongs to the KC district. On paper the move would seem innocuous enough; some parents want their children to be associated with another school district. However, the problem is in the motivation and the results.
The people hoping to claim seven Kansas City district schools for the Independence district talk about improving the schools and giving economically strapped communities a chance to revive. They talk about escaping the troubled history of the Kansas City School District. One thing they’re not talking about: race
“Race has nothing to do with it,” said Missouri Sen. Victor Callahan, a leader in the effort to shift the seven schools in western Independence and Sugar Creek from the Kansas City district. Kansas City.Com
Forgive me for being a little skeptical, but with the Supreme Court in full retreat on Brown I have to question any moves that will result in further segregating a school district that is already 86% minority enrollment. Using the coded language that is synonymous with the new segregation, the Senator would have us believe that race is not a consideration in the move, but a closer look shows something a little different.
The move would remove 2,000 white students from a district that is strapped for white students; it would upset the balance of Van Horn High School, which happens to be one of the most racially diverse schools in the area. It would discontinue bussing minority students to Independence and also affect the tax base. Having witnessed the troubles of bussing when it was implemented in Kansas City and watching it become irrelevant as more and more whites took flight, Van Horn was an oasis in the growing desert of segregation in Kansas City. A segregation that few are willing to discuss, it appears to be the dirty little secret that no one wants to talk about. It is this attitude of separate, but equal that caused me to spend almost 30 years away from Kansas City.
There is no majority in Van Horn. Black, white and Hispanic students exist in nearly equal measure, unlike any other school in the area. The enrollment is 38 percent white, 30 percent Hispanic and 28 percent black.
Van Horn, without the Kansas City students, would lose more than half its enrollment and become another white-majority high school in Independence. It would be 62 percent white, 19 percent Hispanic and 15 percent black. Kansas City.Com
It seems that once again Kansas City and the surrounding areas that make their livings from Kansas City want to choose segregation over diversity. Rather than helping to make the school district a diverse learning environment, racial separation is the order of the day. It’s ok to come to Kansas City and make your money, but don’t let those inner-city kids come to our schools. We don’t want our kids going to their schools either. So we have the new separate, but equal mentality. The problem is that separate, but equal is inherently unequal; it was not equal in the past and it cannot be equal today.
As the gap grows wider between educational achievements between the races we have an opportunity to elevate everyone or we can continue to ignore the problem with the false hope that it will go away. How long are we going to keep disregarding the problems that we face? Race in Kansas City has always been quietly ignored, as if it were impolite to talk about it. As a result we have disparities today in economics, education, and health care that probably surpass any from the ones we had in the past.
No Senator, it is about race and saying it isn’t doesn’t make it so. How long Kansas City are we going to continue to subsidize the wealthy at the expense of the poor? We can spend billions of dollars in renovations for downtown and have nothing to elevate the schools and the other neighborhoods. I don’t blame any parent for not wanting their child to be in a failing school, but for some parents there isn’t any other option. Must they and their children be subject to inferior educations and economic opportunities forever?
The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic – John F. Kennedy