Superintendent tells parents he likes the idea of uniforms, but knows they’re controversial

Kansas City School District Superintendent Stephen Green took questions from parents and community members at a forum yesterday. Green answered questions about school uniforms, fights at the African-Centered prep school, the removal of stop lights and other topics.

Concerned parents got to take questions directly to the top of the Kansas City, Missouri School District yesterday. Superintendent R. Stephen Green invited parents in for coffee and answered their questions in the first of a series of community meetings.

One question that generated a lot of opinions was whether the district was considering school uniforms. Green said, “We have been discussing it, but we don’t want to issue a mandate. We want to know that’s what the community wants.”  Green said while he personally favors uniforms, the district needs to consider enforcement issues. Some parents at the meeting favored uniforms, but a teacher expressed concern about the cost.

The district’s current uniform policy  provides general guidelines, but the schools are free to create their own policies. Currently, the grade schools require uniforms, but only one high school (the African-Centered Prep school) requires uniforms.

Other issues of concern to the school community:

  • The city’s plan to remove stoplights and replace them with four-way stops: The city recently announced plans to replace stoplights with four-way stops at 37 intersections.  Green said the school district opposes the removal of 8 or 9 of the signs, and  the city is re-evaluating its decision.
  • Recent incidents at the African-Centered College Preparatory Academy: One woman told Green her granddaughter attends the academy and loves it, but her grandmother is concerned about its stability following recent fights at the school. Green said his vision is that “it will become the school that people are knocking down doors to get into.”
  • A future emphasis on early childhood education: Green told the crowd to stay tuned, because the district is about to roll out plans for a groundbreaking early childhood program that begins at conception.
  • The district’s progress in regaining accreditation: “The district is steadily on the path to recovery,” Green said, explaining that the district is now meeting 5 out of 14 accreditation standards compared with 3 a year ago. He said the district is financially sound and is reallocating resources to academic achievement, student achievement and reaccreditation. He’s instituting a regular “systems check” to monitor when students are starting to fall behind.
  • New Year’s and spring break “academies:” The district will keep schools open the week after New Year’s Day and during spring break to provide reading and math assistance for students who are struggling. The district also is offering after-school tutoring three nights a week. “Catching students up will require extra time and devotion by our staff,” the superintendent said, and the district is willing to pay for that effort.

What do you think? Would uniforms improve the learning environment in the Kansas City Public Schools?

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