Twenty years ago the charter school movement began with the passage of legislation in the state of Minnesota. City Academy High School in St. Paul was opened in an effort to provide choice and competition, starting what would become a national movement. In 1998, Missouri joined the charter ranks. Today, nearly 20,000 Missouri students are enrolled in 51 charters. Kansas City alone has over 20 charter schools with nearly 9,000 enrolled students. In fact, Kansas City ranks fourth in the nation behind only New Orleans, the District of Columbia, and Detroit with a 32 percent market share. That means almost 1 in 3 Kansas City Missouri school district kids go to a charter school. Despite these large numbers, few people are aware of the true significance of charters and many questions remain unanswered. Although national documentaries such as The Lottery and Waiting for Superman have brought additional light to the presence of charter schools, and even the Obama Administration’s “Race to the Top” education reform plan prominently features them, many questions remain unanswered. What, exactly, are charters? How do they function in Kansas City? And, most importantly, what are they doing to help improve education for Kansas City’s students?
On September 1 at 7 pm, KCPT will air a special on charter schools that will answer these questions and provide a balanced look into the nation’s hottest education topic. Featuring interviews and a panel composed of lawmakers, school board members, a union representative, journalists, non-profit leaders and educators, KCPT will lead the way in an essential and engaging discussion about what we need to do to finally fix our city’s biggest problem: education.
With all the confusion about charter schools, The Local Show tries to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions. Are charter schools free? Can a charter school charge tuition? Can anyone attend a charter school? Can a charter school restrict admission for any reason? Do charter school teachers have to be certified?
Can anyone open a charter school? Do charter schools get the same amount of money to educate a child as a traditional public school? We tackle these questions and more on this special edition of The Local Show.
Joining the conversation…
Andrea Flinders, President of Kansas City Federation of Teachers
Douglas Thaman, Executive Director – Missouri Charter Public School Association
Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star
Arthur Benson, Sub-District 1 – KCMO School Board
Airick L. West, President – KCMO School Board