Thursday, June 12, 2008

Leadership Shows Its Stripes

Why should we stick with segregated electoral districts for the Kansas City Metropolitan School District? Are we prepared to abandon our traditional electoral maps, with their separate "communities" representing traditional power bases?

Airick Leonard West was elected to the KCMSD Board because he is a change agent. He looks at things from a fresh perspective, and, when the need arose to redraw the electoral boundaries for the KCMSD, he saw an opportunity to strike a blow to the heart of our segregationist past and "Us vs. Them" present.

Look at the map posted here - this is what change looks like. Each of the districts stretches from State Line to the eastern boundary of the District - like a stripe across the KCMSD. Each of the districts shows a commonality of interests in making sure our children get the best education possible in the KCMSD. This map changes how we will elect our leadership and how we could view our participation in the district. (It won't, however, alter boundaries for neighborhood schools or create zones for busing - it is solely aimed at elections for school board membership.)

If you think its time for Kansas City to try a new way of creating community, there are a few ways of helping bring this to fruition:
- send an email to both and or call the Election Board at 816.842.4820;
- contact individual election commissioners and school board members you know;
- forward this or a similar email to concerned Kansas Citians you know;
- attend the meeting where election commissions will vote on this issue: June 19th ( for further info).

We elected Airick Leonard West to make some changes. Now let's support the change we sought.

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Anonymous Rhymes With Right said...

Those districts likely would not fly, Dan.
Why not?

Because they break up those traditional communities of interest, in particular the ethnic minority ones. Too much case law to even begin a recitation of it.

Change thwarted, courtesy of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, as amended.

6/12/2008 8:13 AM  
Blogger Do you see me? said...

these districts do maintain communities of interest - there are several with majority of minority voters. the difference is that this plan does not "pack" all the minorities into just 2 districts. Instead, it disperses them through several districts. Under this plan, anyone running for office will need to make appeals to ALL the communities, not just their preferred one. This plan will meet the 1982 VRA amendments. Change on!

6/12/2008 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After the mayor just fired the last black employee in his office, why do you think any minority district in the city would want dilute their voting block?

6/12/2008 8:36 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

That's a really strange question, but I'll attempt to answer it directly. First off, we are talking about the school district, not the city - they are separate entities, with separate districts and separate boundaries. Secondly, the number of majority black districts remains the same under the proposal. Third, the KCMSD does not have a mayor.

More importantly, though, the proposal is a way of breaking out of the psychology you demonstrate. For all the kids to do well, it will be best for all the city to be looking for areas of commonality rather than separation. The kids who live on the eastern border of the district ought to be my concern just as much as the ones who live on State Line. The Board Member from my district should be accountable to both families, not just those who live around my house.

6/12/2008 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shouldn't this plan also create zones for neighborhood schools and busing? We need dramatic change here, and I am very skeptical that this plan goes far enough.

6/12/2008 9:31 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

No, it shouldn't. This map has nothing to do with any of that. This map is only to set the districts for elections - that's why the election commission is dealing with it.

6/12/2008 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unlike the city council, the school board is minority dominated.

they are separate entities

You are correct, the school board does not have a mayor, but it board positions are political also. They are both areas of power in the community and on the city govt side, the mayor has chosen to fire the only black employee in his office.

More importantly, though, the proposal is a way of breaking out of the psychology you demonstrate.

You are basically saying "those people" don't elect good leaders, so we need to redraw the lines in order to get good board members.

You are not arguing some point of racial discrimination or an under privileged voting block. You just do not like who they vote for, so you want to redraw their district.

Whether you will admit it or not, this whole plan is just a way to remove a couple of the current board members. This plan is just a way to gerry mander out the current board.

If the school district was improving dramatically would anyone even be considering redrawing the lines?

Saying all that, I think redrawing the lines would be a good thing. But given the current problems caused by our politicians (ie, "mammy gate" and Ms Minuteman), I can understand how any minority group would be wary of having their political boundaries redraw.

6/12/2008 9:39 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Your inability to understand the distinction between city politics and the KCMSD is odd, but, if you want to wring your hands about some unproven allegations about someone who has nothing to do with the school district, knock yourself out.

But don't claim that I'm targeting "those people". That's a completely false claim, and, once again, demonstrates the psychology that this map might begin to change.

I think ALL school board members would be more effective, and the school board would be more functional, if ALL school board members were accountable to families from State Line to the east side.

I'm not targeting any current members, or protecting any current members. Frankly, I haven't even looked at what this does to current members - that's not important to me.

Your insistence that this is some kind of conspiracy directed at "those people" is the best argument in favor of the map I could imagine.

6/12/2008 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like a great idea from some one who went to school in an all- white suburb. Could that someone be Mr. West?

This is a proposal by a black dude who grew up and went to high school in a white suburb; whose live-in is a white chick who grew up in a white suburb; and the plan is being advocated by a middle-aged white blogger.



What's wrong with this picture?!

Maybe we should focus on recruitment and priorities instead of gerrymandering the districts.

Black turnout is always low, white turnout is always higher. Blacks always vote for blacks, and whites for whites, except for the angst-ridden liberals like Dan.

Why noy focus on good recruitment practices?


We elected Mr. West, who was educated in Johnson County. He and his live-in know what's best for us brown people, they feel our pain.


6/12/2008 10:15 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Angst-ridden? Me?

Sorry, you've imagined the wrong guy.

You just keep on hugging that status quo. See you at the polls . . .

6/12/2008 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But don't claim that I'm targeting "those people". That's a completely false

So your saying that if the KCMO school district was fully accredited and outperforming every suburban school in the area, that this plan would still be on the table?

You can't be that gullible can you? The only reason this plan is even being discussed is because our current school board has proven to ineffective.

This is no different than the Independence schools leaving the district. The residents of Independence were tired of the KCMO school board running the schools into the dirt, so they went out and had the school district redrawn.

Your insistence that this is some kind of conspiracy

Was it a conspiracy that Independence pulled out? No, they just were tired of the boards corruption and wanted change. So they got the school district maps redrawn. And yes you are talking about the voting map not the district map, but the effect is the same. If you think the current leadership is not doing a good job, you redraw whatever map you have to in order to make things better.

Your inability to understand the distinction between city politics and the KCMSD is odd,

I guess you have not learned to read comments. Of course there is a distinction. What YOU don't seem to understand is both city govt and the school board are positions of power. Whenever you try to change the balance of power, in this case likely redistricting current board members out of office, people are going to be wary of your intentions.

Dan, do you just lack the ability to have any empathy? Can you not even understand that redrawing a voting district could cause some apprehension?

The KCMO school board is the only minority dominated political institution in the area. You are advocating a plan that could upset that apple cart. You are just some white guy in Brookside spouting off about how two eastside districts should be cut up and combined with six other districts and you are oblivious to how that could come off to some people.

I never said this was some "conspiracy", please quote where I did. What I said, if you would ever read before spouting off, was this could very well be viewed as a way to dilute the power of certain voting blocks (rightly or wrongly). Its too bad that you don't seem able to see the world from anyone's point of view but your own.

6/12/2008 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I (anon @ 6/12/2008 10:35 PM) didn't write the angst post, although I did get a good laugh out of it.

I guess I should get a screen name.

6/12/2008 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The color of KCMSD board members is irrelevant. The point is this group is dysfuntional and has been for 30 years. How can anyone defend the board's record?

Why must every attempt to improve the KCMSD be about race? It should be about the children -- be they white, black, or any other color.

It does not matter if Airick Leonard West attended the KSMSD, Blue Valley, or no school at all. If he has a good idea (and, at this point, any idea is better than the status quo), then he should be supported.

Those clinging to the status quo must step aside.

6/12/2008 11:17 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous 10:35 -

yes, definitely choose a screen name, or even use your real name.

Once again, you're shifting your arguments. You accused me of thinking "those people" couldn't elect good people - "those people", I interpreted you to be saying, are the blacks on the East Side. If I have your original argument correct, then I think it's ridiculous. Our community has failed to elect a functional school board - not just the east side.

I have never argued that this school board is effective, have I?

Finally, as for your odd connection of the major's office to the boundaries of the school district, it seems that now you're backing down to claiming that all you were trying to say is that minorities might be suspicious of changes to the status quo. That certainly is a serpentine route to an obvious point, and also ignores the fact that suspicion of change is one of the traits we all share.

But, whether anyone likes it or not, we are going to have new lines - you understand that, right? I understand that some will want to cling to the status quo, in all areas of the city. The fact that I think they're wrong doesn't mean I lack empathy.

6/13/2008 6:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think this is going to make me care any more about the KCMSD.

6/16/2008 7:28 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous 7:28 -

Thanks for speaking up.

What WOULD make you care more about the KCMSD? I'm interested . . .

6/16/2008 7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would care about KCMSD more if people like Linwood Tauheed and Clinton Adams weren't always lurking around and screaming racism at every turn.

My part of town makes great financial contributions to the KCMSD. Why not make it so that those who pay the most have the most say? You'll probably say: who's going to look out for the interests of the poor? My question to you is, who looks out for my interests now? Nobody.

Right now I feel like I throw $2,000 away each year. How much does Linwood pay? How much does Clinton pay? I'd be willing to bet you $100 that they pay nothing because they live in some of the tax abated housing at Renaissance Cove or in the Jazz District. Those guys have no incentive to make things better. As long as things are in disarray, people like Clinton and Linwood will feel like they are needed.

I will care about the KCMSD when it's an option for me and my children. Until then, I will continue to make my annual contribution and, at the same time, support private schools. If not for the private school network, this town would have gone to hell.

6/18/2008 5:58 AM  

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