It’s inexcusable for Kansas City to simply accept 130 murders before it’s even December, Mark Bedell said.
“Who do you think are committing these crimes?” Bedell, superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools, asked a crowd gathered Thursday for the Lean Lab’s Launch[ED) Day. “Probably people who have been victims of schools that have failed them — whether it’s my school system, whether it’s charters, whether it’s parochial schools that they started in and couldn’t work out, when do we come together to lift up this community?”
A divided — often feuding — educational system is a substantial part of the problem, he said.
“We work in silos,” Bedell said. “It’s charters against public schools. Parochial schools against charter schools. It’s south of Brush Creek against folks who live east of Troost. It’s gender inequities. It’s racial differences.”
Educators must work together to give students across the city an equal and fair shot, he said.
“We have to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ And we have to demand — and have high accountability for each other — that we’re going to make this the greatest educational landscape in the United States,” Bedell said. “Here’s what happens: If we do that, ultimately you begin to attract businesses. You begin to attract more families. Your property values and business values go up because we now have a supportive ecosystem that now works and we’re producing products that not only will be a value add to the local economy, but to the economy through the world.”
Bedell’s opening remarks Thursday evening touched on the education leader’s hopes for Kansas City in the coming decades:
By 2050, all Kansas City children will have a legitimate and equitable shot at achieving their dreams.
All children will be raised by families who value education and live in safe and supportive neighborhoods and a healthy community with a thriving economy.
All children will already have two years of high-quality, early education by the time they enter kindergarten.
Our school system will feature a spectrum of clear pathways through graduation and into college, careers and, most importantly, life.
Every classroom will have a top-flight, aspiring teacher, and every school will have an effective principal who is also an instructional leader.
By 2050, every Kansas City child will come to school every day with hope. They will come to school free from the threat of violence, with full stomachs and minds prepared and eager to learn. They will come to school knowing that they have a real shot at building a great future. They will have all the curricular and extracurricular resources, programs and activities they need and deserve to turn lessons into experiences that spark lifelong passions. Each student will be supported by scaffold of responsible adults.
In 2050, all Kansas City children will got to school confident that every adult in their lives has their best interest at heart. They will be resilient and excited to overcome challenges.
In 2050, all Kansas City children will graduate as leaders in our community and around the world.
Bedell spoke Thursday at Launch[ED] Day as keynote speaker, along with Aaron North, vice president of education for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The event also highlighted the Lean Lab’s five 2017 fellows, with two businesses — Kansas City-based startups Transportant and H3 Enterprises (Healthy Hip Hop) — each winning $25,000.
For photos from the event, as well as a video highlighting the fellows, check out the gallery below.