Well, scratch off one of the three items on the bucket list of Mayor Sly James, specifically his plans for a sales tax supported pre-kindergarten program.
Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City (GSDGKC), a Missouri-side educational cooperative that represents 31 school districts, told James to take his pre-k initiative and “delay” it, which is a barely disguised euphemism for “shove it.”
The language of the GSDGKC press release was not at all subtle. “The districts’ leaders emphasized the regressive nature of the tax,” read the release, “a loss of local control by area school districts and the fact that a portion of public funding raised through the tax would be diverted to private and parochial schools.”
If the GSDGKC’s account of the James initiative is accurate, the effort seems ill-conceived and ill-planned. Gayden Carruth, the executive director of the cooperative, claims that the districts’ superintendents only became aware of the proposal in May and did not see the complete plan until it was made widely available on Wednesday of this week.
“It is extremely difficult to respond to the presented proposal when many questions remain unanswered,” groused Dr. Carruth. “Early childhood is too important to our children and their families, and our organization’s school districts support getting this done right, not fast.”
Reading between the lines, however, one suspects that district superintendents would have objected to the initiative even if it had been executed perfectly.
Carruth acknowledged that four superintendents, likely the ones whose districts would have been affected, had been kept in the loop throughout the planning process. Reportedly, the supers “expressed concerns about the voucher aspect, the governance model and other specifics that negatively impacted our school districts, our students and our taxpayers.”
There is no reason to believe the initiative would have “negatively impacted” students. As to taxpayers, they would be dinged no matter who ran the pre-k.
In reality, all that was negatively impacted was the power of the educational establishment. The superintendents have a right to contest the control of Mayor Sly James’s proposed pre-k program. They have no right, however, to demand the exclusion of private and parochial students.