For all the turmoil that has buffeted the Kansas City Public Schools, an exceptionally strong field of candidates is competing for school board seats in the April 8 election.
Two open at-large seats have drawn four well-prepared contenders. The Star recommendsPatricia “Pattie” L. Mansur and Janelle N. Bailey
Mansur is communications director for the REACH Healthcare Foundation. She is a longtime involved parent of children in Kansas City Public Schools. She has a passion for the work and ideas to help the district raise student test scores and receive full accreditation. Mansur can serve as a bridge to get more parents, community groups and businesses involved in the schools.
Bailey is an intellectual property attorney with Armstrong Teasdale LLP, and co-chair of the Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medicine Committee of the Central Exchange. She has good ideas about helping students in the district become academically successful and making young families feel confident about using the public schools.
The other candidates are Amy H. Hartsfield and Catina K. Taylor.
In Subdistrict 4, incumbentJoseph C. Jackson Sr.,
deserves to be re-elected over Melissa J. Robinson.
Jackson, the board treasurer, has provided good leadership since he was elected in 2010. Robinson is president of the Black Health Coalition and a strong candidate. But the hard-working Jackson knows the ropes and has the edge.
Two other current board members, Carl Evans in Subdistrict 6 and Gunnar Hand in Subdistrict 2, are running unopposed.
The strong field of candidates is a welcome sign. Two years ago, only two persons filed for four open seats, and write-in candidates had to be recruited.
The next board faces big challenges. The district is unaccredited and subject to a range of state interventions. Seven of 10 students are still scoring below proficiency levels on state academic tests. Superintendent Steve Green is providing stable leadership, but the board must push for much higher student achievement. Mansur, Bailey and Jackson are the best candidates to do that.