It would be an easy argument to make that the single biggest problem facing Kansas City, MO right now is our failing public school system. For nearly a decade, the schools in the city have been unaccredited. And without accreditation, the city has become unable to keep middle-income families (with kids) even living in the city, which leaves much of the housing vacant, and keeps tax revenue down. Meanwhile, the poor education keeps the poor, poor, and isolated from the rest of the city.
If we could change one thing in this community that would have the most dramatic positive affect on the city, it would be improving the public schools.
Two years ago, there were four empty seats for the KCMO School Board. Three of the four spaces had candidates that ran uncontested and the other had no one who ran for it -- so it was all write-in candidates.
With no competition in the elections, none of the issues facing the schools (and they are many) were ever discussed or covered by the local media.
Fast forward 2 years, and there are 11 candidates running for 5 seats -- with only one seat being uncontested. Bravo.
By having actual candidates, there will be more interest in the race. Many of the issues will be discussed, and possible solutions to solving our school's problems will be brought to light. We will discuss getting neighborhood and community support -- from both individuals and businesses. We'll discuss more economically efficient ways to run the schools, and ideas for making them better. And hopefully the public will take an interest, and become more involved in the schools.
It took our schools several decades to become a mess and to lose their accreditation...and it may take several years to lift them back up. It will take more than the five winning candidates for the school board to solve -- it will take the support of the entire community. But by having good, honest dialog about where the problems lie, and possible solutions, we will have a better chance of making positive changes for the schools.
So even before the election, a full slate of interested candidates has made the School district already a winner over where we were 2 years ago.