Friday, September 11

va: Interview with Michael Zeller


The conversation started by us explaining the class and what our general idea is. He then drew us a map of KC in 1950 & gave a brief history of the racial divide. He explained how poverty was a main cause to this divide. 18th and Vine was a booming area and pretty diverse as far as class goes, even some white people lived there (even though it was an African American dominate area). But then the crack epidemic caused the middle class to flee the city seeking more opportunity elsewhere in places like Raytown and Lee Summit.


Since the public school system in KC is filled with 90% poverty, parents who have a choice are sending their kids to private school. He also talked about how we as a community have this group thinking syndrome. If one parent moves away and takes their kid to a better school, people in the same area get this syndrome and they all start to flee together. Then the schools are left with people that don't have the option to leave and it's filled with kids who are all in poverty. Once a school is mostly one demographic, it hits the point of no return.
-70 schools in KC, 60 of them are in poverty
-people who have the choice will leave public schools in this area
-CEE Trust (example of what to do)
They close down the lowest 5% schools but open 5% new schools.
-Solution would be to slowly start moving schools East of Troost
-to send each kid to a district school cost $14,000 per student
-To set up a new running school in an existing abandon building cost
8 million dollars.


The word "diverse" is used lightly when describing the demographic in Academie Lafayette. No millionaires kids are going there, but it's 36% minority and 25% poverty. Something they do to keep these numbers is proving transportation (school buses) that go way out to pick up kids in poverty to come to Academie Layfayette (located in Brookside), even though it's very expensive to do so. It's also diverse in the since that the students are fluent in French and are taught by teachers from foreign countries.  Enrollment is first come first serve.  About 120 people get turned down each year to put their kids into K-5. Also a downfall is that they don't accept kids to enter the school into any other grade. Only K-5 because they teach everything in French. Academie Lafayette is successful because it has a brand that gains trust in a community that lacks trust in education. It stated at 220 kids and now has 950 students, they've bought new buildings and expanded as much as they can using the resources they have. But because they are not getting public funding to build new schools with the same structure, they are currently one of two charters in the KC area. The other one he said was doing good things was Crossroads Academy located downtown.
-Cost $10,000 per student

root of the problem

-slowly moving / improving in small increments
-SPACE outside of city , it's easy for people to run away from the problem
but if they were forced to stay, the problem probably wouldn't still exist
-Fear of the other & gun culture
-"The Tide wants to come in"
-He talked about how our generation is more prone to live in the city.
Not concerned with having a yard & car like previous generations. But then he
said the problem is give us 5 years, we want to have a kid and put them in school
but none of the public schools are good enough.

How to Reach People
-Have a clear and compelling vision
-paint a draft / can't start with a blank piece of paper
-allow ownership
-create a self-fueling cycle

Referred Contacts:
Darron Story
Eric West

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