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How Geography Plays Out In School Choice In Kansas City


Geography plays a big role in how Kansas Citians decide where to send their kids to school.

At least that’s what we heard back from parents when we asked them this week about how they made the big decision.

The question, “How did you decide where to send your kids to school in Kansas City?” came as the issue of school choice kept cropping up in KCUR’s series of community listening sessions tied to our Beyond Our Borders series, which is looking at the state line.

Some of the factors we heard about are most likely on the minds of parents around the country.

For some parents who got back to us this week, it was a matter of finding a school that served children with special needs.

“Our 3rd grade son is Dyslexic so we look(ed) for a school that recognizes this (most don't) and are willing to support his needs with multi-sensory instruction for reading, classroom accommodations such as being able to use audiobooks, extra time on tests and assistive technology,” Sarah Borisky tells us on Facebook.  

Other parents cited diversity and the desire for programs with dual languages.

Beth Olson, who reached out to us via our online Tell KC source network, said she moved her daughter to a charter school in Kansas City, Mo., for academics.  

“My daughter attended Olathe public schools for elementary and did very well but would get bored at times which would cause her focus to slip,” Olson said. “I knew she needed a school that could continue to challenge her.”

A group of parents we heard from did the exact opposite — they sought out schools in Johnson County, Kan., for their children.

“When we found we were expecting a (surprise!) third child and we were about to outgrow our KCMO house, we reluctantly began looking at Johnson County schools,” Cynthia Wendt tells us on Facebook.

Adrienne Lund (@adriennelund) tweeted us that she moved away from Johnson County before marriage, but moved back to Kansas when she bought a house because of the public schools.

“Went to @olatheschools and felt I had a well-rounded education and I want that same experience for my kids,” she tweeted.

The notion of adults wanting their children to mirror their own educational experiences in Kansas City, Mo., also was a common theme in the feedback we received.

“It was important to me to stay in my community, and growing up I attended a KC public neighborhood school,” Susan Stocking tells us on Facebook. “And I'm grateful that my son has the opportunity to walk to a great school in his neighborhood."

All of this said, we took a little heat for this week’s Tell KCUR question.

An anonymous caller who left a message on our Tell KCUR call-in line said it was unfair to presume that everybody has an option of where they send their kids to school.

“I think the majority of people send their kids to school where they can send them to school, whatever public school that they are in the district for — and don’t really see a private school or any kind of religious institution as an option,” he said.

See some other highlights from the Tell KCUR Twitter conversation below.

For the full Twitter stream, follow the #TellKCURhashtag or see other responses on our Facebook page.   

Tell KCUR is part of an initiative to engage the community and shine a light on your experiences and opinions. We’ll ask a new question every week and then share your feedback on the air and online. Everyone has knowledge and insight to share. Be a part of our Tell KC source network and let us know more about your expertise.

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