Journey of a Superintendent: Whisper Down the Lane

Dr. Cynthia Lane, Superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools

One of the many privileges I have as superintendent is sharing the stories of our students, teachers, and our entire staff. Every day, I witness extraordinary accomplishments: from four-year-olds reading and writing, to students engaged in robotics competitions and “Math Relays,” to our extraordinary “Beyond the Classroom” program, where professional quality photography, drawings, paintings and pottery created by students of all ages are on display in gallery fashion.    Just this week I witnessed outstanding orations and presentations; heard students describe experiences while attending a leadership conference; and witnessed students working in teams to solve problems, analyze text, and engage in collaborative writing. In April, I look forward to witnessing all of our students in grades 8 through 12 take college entrance exams, complete college visits, and develop clear plans to reach their professional aspirations.

Yet, with all the outstanding accomplishments happening across our district each and every day, I continue to hear comments that clearly come from misunderstandings, or what some call urban myths. These comments remind me of a game we played as kids called “pass it on.” (Real old timers called it “whisper down the lane.”) The point of the game is for a message to be passed on, in a whisper, from person to person, and to see how radically changed the final version of the message is from the original.

It must have been a modern version of “whisper down the lane” that resulted in a statement that was made in a community discussion inaccurately stating that the dropout rate in KCKPS is as much as 40 percent. The truth is, our dropout rate is 2.1%. Another over-heard comment was made that our schools aren’t what they used to be. The truth is, our schools (our students) are performing higher on critical measures (such as national tests and college entrance exams) than they have in 20 years. Hear me: we have much more work to do, but dropout factories, and failing students and schools – NO WAY!

Where do these misstatements come from? I can think of two possibilities. One is that people speak without checking the facts. Two is, “that’s what I heard” or “I read on the internet” so it must be true. Either way, this sounds like “whisper down the lane” to me!

Help me share our truth. Our kids and schools deserve the truth to be known. Our kids are capable, talented, passionate, and they are our future leaders. I am proud to serve all 20,000 of our kids in this community. Let’s “whisper down the lane” what’s really going on – It’s Up to Us!

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7 Responses to Journey of a Superintendent: Whisper Down the Lane

  1. michael b. martin says:

    Dr. Lane is still smart and good looking. Belivw we should listen to her.

  2. Teresa M Sharp says:

    I, know K.C.K. schools are much better now than when I was a kid!

  3. Sharon Klein says:

    Unfortunately the bad rep is still out there. Another member of out granddaughter’s family wanted her to move to Olathe with her daughter because the schools here “are so bad.” I set her straight.

  4. Rhonda Rush says:

    It’s due to the fact that we are in Wyandotte County as well. We continue to get a bad rep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Dr. Lane says:

    How do we change the conversation?

  6. Dr. Lane says:

    I have the privilege to see the amazing work our students do every day. They put forth terrific effort to learn and success. Our teachers work to ensure every student is progressing. Yet we continue to hear negative things about our schools. Why? Who benefits from this false dialogue? I wonder if these “whisper down the lane” stories continue because as a society we seem to like to carry forward the sensationalized and negative. Where are the naysayers when we have 1,200 students competing in “Math Relays” on a Saturday? Let’s get some conversation going about 200 students earning the highest achievement of the Superintendent’s Honor Roll, or 120 Kansas Scholars, and award winning debate teams. It’s Up to Us!

  7. Cal Anderson says:

    We have that rap because we earned it. It started some where and one thing after another and things never changed. Parents have to force the change in our kids and our schools. It can not just be done with current and futher administrations.

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