209.A Billion, Six For KC: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org
A Billion, Six For KC
What are the prospects of reclaiming systematic schooling so it serves the general welfare? Surely the possibility of recharging the system when so many seem to desire such a course would be the best refutation of my buried thesis — that no trustworthy change is possible, that the school machine must be shattered into a hundred thousand parts before the pledges made in the founding documents of this country have a chance to be honored again. No one servesbetter as an emblem of the hopelessness of a gradual course of school reform or one that follows the dictates of conventional wisdom than Judge Russell G. Clark, of Kansas City, Missouri.
For more than ten years Judge Clark oversaw the spending of a $1.6 billion windfall in an attempt to desegregate Kansas City schools and raise the reading and math scores of poor kids. I arbitrarily select his story from many which might be told to show how unlikely it is that the forces which gave us our present schools are likely to vanish, even in the face of outraged determination. Or that models of a better way to do things are likely to solve the problem, either.
Judge Russell G. Clark took over the Kansas City school district in 1984 after adjudicating a case in which the NAACP acted for plaintiffs in a suit against the school district. Although he began the long court proceedings as a former farm boy raised in the Ozarks without an activist judicial record, Clark's decision was favorable to the desegregationists beyond any reasonable expectation. Clark invited those bringing the suit to dream up perfect schools and he would get money to pay for them! Using the exceptional power granted federal judges, he unilaterally ordered the doubling of city property taxes. 4 When that provided inadequate revenue, he ordered the state to make up the difference. How's that for decisive, no-nonsense support for school reform as a social priority?
Suddenly the district was awash in money for TV studios, swimming pools, planetariums, zoos, computers, squadrons of teachers and specialists. "They had as much money as any school district will ever get," said Gary Orfield, a Harvard investigator who directed a postmortem analysis, "It didn't do very much." Orfield was wrong. The Windfall produced striking results:
Average daily attendance went down, the dropout rate went up, the black-white achievement gap remained stationary, and the district was as segregated after ten years of well-funded reform as it had been at the beginning. A former school board president whose children had been plaintiffs in the original suit leading to Judge Clark's takeover said she had "truly believed if we gave teachers and administrators everything they said they needed, that would make a huge difference. I knew it would take time, but I did believe by five years into this program we would see dramatic results educationally." Who is the villain in this tale? Judge Clark is. He just doesn't get it. The system isn't broken. It works as intended, turning out incomplete people. No repair can fix it, nor is the education kids need in any catalogue to buy. As Kansas City proves, giving schools more money only encourages them to intensify the destructive operations they already perform.
4. They actually were raised 150 percent, from a base already not low. With what effect on homeowners just holding on was anyone's guess. Here, as in the case of Benson, Vermont, up ahead, the institution's aspect as predatory parasite appears in stark relief. Education's Most Powerful Voice