KCUR-FM is the NPR affiliate station in Kansas City and is operated by the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Steve Kraske is an associate teaching professor of journalism at UMKC and a host on KCUR-FM.
Incoming DeKalb Schools Superintendent Stephen Green spoke with Steve Kraske and reflected on his tenure with Kansas City Public Schools. This post was extracted from pieces of that interview and subsequent article written by Julia Szabo. You can read and listen to the complete article and interview here.
Stephen Green became interim superintendent of the Kansas City Public School District in September 2011, then superintendent in April 2012. Green has led the district through the loss of accreditation and the threat of a state takeover. He has brought stability back to the district with his focus on curriculum, instruction and student achievement.
On the loss of accreditation in 2012
It was very dark, I mean, it was very disheartening in some regards but also, like a lot of athletes you use that as a trigger for fight and for inspiration and for — you use it to mobilize your troops as a general would and he you have a common target you need to reach and you have a hill or a mountain that you gotta climb and you go for it.
On what he did to rebuild after the accreditation loss
I mean, I knew from within, looking from the district from inside out what the potential was. It’s just like you see in individuals. A coach sees it in a kid, a teacher sees it in a child, I saw it as the leader of the Kansas City Public Schools — this district has great potential. It’s just not realized that potential and it’s up to me as a leader to bring that forth.
It meant having hard conversations inside about how we’re going to do things, sometimes it meant me being very prescriptive about the way we’re going to approach things, sometimes it meant having hard discussions about what’s the best strategy here.
On his focus on curriculum and student achievement
We began to assess and reallocate resources to the classroom. We focused on students first. We made the sacrifices, we took from some areas that we didn’t think were necessarily directly focused directly on what needed to happen in the classroom. We redid the curriculum. First thing we did, I think it was the Spring of 2012, we brought in a team of 20-25 folks from the state department to do a curricular audit, very much like you do your finances. How much are we aligned to the state standards? Where are there gaps in articulation between one class and the next class? Etcetera, and we just redid the curriculum.
And so it’s about accountability, it’s about a structure that you implement with fidelity, and you stay with it and we’ve been refining it for the last three years and every year we’ve gotten not just a little better but a lot better. It still needs some work it’s still not a perfect structure. But it’s a structure that is sound and solid, that it can be built upon and enhanced.
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