I know it has been a very long time since I updated this website, but I thought I would share this link from a community that I was invited to regarding the repurposing of Waldo’s Bingham Middle School into a commercial property. Regarding this topic, I think I cover most of my thoughts in the Vimeo:
After a great campaign and election, I am excited to begin the difficult work ahead to regain accreditation and make our School District the best in the region. We did a lot to begin to change the public’s perspective about our public education, and that work will continue.
As a City and a region, we need to begin the conversation about how we can improve our public education system and what we can do to contribute to this noble effort as opposed to focusing on our failures. Not one generation ago, this was the best District in the City. There are certainly pockets of excellence that deserve credit, but I believe that we can and will be great again.
It is a moral imperative as well as an economic development certainty. Whether you have children in the District or not, as a citizen, parent, taxpayer and/or property owner, a quality public education system is a benefit to us all, and we all must take a stake in its success.
Thank you to all of my supporters throughout the campaign who poured their blood, sweat, tears and money into our effort. And I would like to especially thank Mi Nguyen and all the District students who helped me at the polls on election day. You are our future, and it is great to see you involved in shaping it!
I am honored to be recognized by our region’s local newspaper, the Kansas City Star, in their endorsement for my candidacy. You can read the endorsement here. The Star makes the excellent point that this contested race is great for the District, our City and democracy in general. We have two qualified candidates, but the Star, my other endorsements, and I all believe that it is my inclusive approach and experience working with local communities that will provide the type of leadership that this District needs right now.
Thank you to the Star editorial Board for their support.
On Tuesday, October 23 I participated in the second candidate forum of this special election. This forum was hosted by the KCPS District Advisory Committee (DAC) at Border Star Montessori. It was another great opportunity to communicate my skill set and ideas to the public about how to not only turnaround our School District, but ensure its long-term viability.
Thank you to Jennifer Wolfsie for all her work putting the event together, our moderator, Chris Hernandez, Principal Collier for being such a gracious host, and of course everyone who came out to learn more about both candidates on the ballot for the November 6th School Board election.
On Monday, October 28, I attended the Black Agenda meeting at Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church. The Committee asked both candidates some lively questions that I felt allowed both candidates to discuss the differences between us. While we are very similar on issues as we are both pro-District, I think it comes down to a choice of personality and approach. I am confident that my ground-up, grassroots and community-based approach is what this District needs in the long-term, and my experience working with Boards in the past has prepared me to be a constructive and effective member of the governing team.
Thank you to Dwon Littlejohn for inviting both of us to attend the meeting. While most of these constituents are not voting within the 2nd Sub-District, they are a critical partner in the future success of our public education system, and it was an honor to meet and speak with all of them.
Southtown Council Networking
On Wednesday, October 24, I attended a Southtown Council networking event at St. Elizabeth’s Parish. I was able to meet with a few new faces and learn about this concerns. St. Elizabeth’s is a Blue Ribbon school, and several members expressed their hopes that Hale Cook reopens and helps to serve the children of our community. Even our parochial schools are interested in the success of the public school system. We must work to bring their expertise and wherewithal into the District.
Visitation Communities Creating Opportunities (CCO)
On Monday October 22, I sat before a panel with Visitation Church’s Communities Creating Opportunities committee, who conducted an interview of me as a candidate for the Kansas City Public Schools Board. Like all the other questionnaires and interviews that I have completed, this too was a great exercise for me to do additional research and to learn more about the District, public schools, and my own beliefs. Throughout the campaign I have learned a lot, but perhaps most importantly I have learned what I do not know and that which I need to know.
Brookside Charter Day School Board Meeting
On Monday, October 22, I was invited by my neighbor, Chris Morgan, who is the Chair of the Brookside Charter Day School, to take a tour of the facilities and sit in on their Board meeting. The school completely renovated an old commercial building, and is currently in the process of a $7 million expansion to add classrooms and a new gymnasium. What I saw at the Board meeting was an efficient, well-organized and cohesive Board. The school operates under many of the same difficulties that the District does, but their performance and student achievement are exemplary in comparison. Of particular note, the school mentioned that their greatest challenge was retention, and that they needed to identify and place more 8th graders in high schools. A revitalized Southwest would be a great asset for our many Charter Elementary Schools.
KCPS District Advisory Committee
On Monday October 22, I attended the KCPS District Advisory Committee (DAC) meeting. At the meeting, the DAC was suppose to hold an election that was overdue since last April, but it was delayed again due to the lack of a quorum…
Gunnar Hand for Public Education just picked up and is now distributing its yard signs to supporters across the Kansas City School Board’s 2nd Sub-District. If you are interested in a yard sign, please contact the campaign here.
Thank you to all of my supporters who are helping spread the word of the campaign to everyone passing by. It is a truly humbling experience to have such great volunteers and support. And thank you to Almar Printing for doing a great job!
This just in; Gunnar Hand has been added to the list of endorsements by the Kansas City Federation of Teachers and School-Related Personnel Local 691. You can view the full slate of candidates here.
Thank you to Andrea Flinders for taking the time to learn more about me and the campaign. Every issue is unique and complex, and I look forward to working with our union partners in the future.
On Thursday, October 18, I attended the annual meeting for MORE2 and was completely motivated to see such a diverse group working towards economic and racial equality. After sponsoring the first candidate forum for the School Board election, it was inspiring to see a large faith-based coalition working towards the improvement of public education. Their 2×2 program, which was launched at this annual meeting seeks to make small-scale, incremental and positive changes to students through a mentoring program. This is the type of commitment that we all need to make as a community to improve our public schools.
Southtown Council Luncheon
On Wednesday, October 17, I attended the Southtown Council luncheon. It was great to meet with local business and community leaders and discuss the Kansas City School District. I was given the opportunity to introduce myself and briefly talk about how I intend to reach out to the business community to help support our students and bolster academic achievement. The education of our children is critical to the City’s long-term economic development and the formation of the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Southwest Early College Campus School Advisory Council
On Monday, October 15, I attended the Southwest SAC meeting. I had the honor to introduce myself and the campaign to the SAC and then discuss issues on their agenda. The school reported, quite frankly, dismal test scores for Southwest, but everyone agreed that the question must be how we put the past behind us and move forward so that we can achieve one student and school at a time.
On the Scene with Dr. Green
On Sunday, October 14 I attended the On the Scene with Dr. Green event at the Bluford Branch of the Kansas City Library. Dr. Green gave a quick update for the district and his administration’s plans to address the immediate concern of reaccreditation. The superintendent became very animated when asked the question of early childhood development. He did not fully divulge, but discussed his soon to be released plan for creating early childhood community centers in each of the 4 zones of the District. While this new plan doe snot directly address the entire cohort currently in public schools, it does begin to tackle the long-term issue of student achievement by seeking to ensure that all students who enter the District at Kindergarten are at or above their assessment level.
On Wednesday, October 10, the Kansas City School Board reviewed Policy 1.1 and 4.2 in a workshop style presentation from the Administration at their regular meeting. The compiled statistics showed that earlier reporting and testing in the first four weeks compared to last year showed progress in MAP scores for 6-8 graders in Math and Communication Arts. The Board also reviewed ACT test preparation efforts for High School juniors and seniors as well as the policy regarding the treatment of staff.
While all this was fine and good, I still had a looming sense that there is something missing at these meetings. I have had this same feeling the past few Board meetings, and I think I am starting to understand my own frustrations. The Board has created a policy document by which they conduct themselves and run their meetings. At what point does the Board introduce new policy or discuss the relevance, importance and/or progress of existing policy? Is the Board missing the opportunity to address immediate concerns and issues in the District or to be a resource for the administration? They have created a system by which I do not hear too much discussion about accountability, but a lot of review of tracking of statistics, albeit statistics that show improvement in student achievement.
Ward Parkway Homes Association Annual Meeting
On Tuesday, October 9, I was invited to the Ward Parkway Homes Associations’ annual meeting to introduce myself as a School Board candidate. It was very interesting to see how other Homes Associations conduct business, as I also sit on the Armour Hills Homeowners Association. After a discussion about Google fiber, the progress of Friends of Hale Cook, and a Security update, the President of the neighborhood organization provide me with some time to express my views on the District, why I am running, and how I believe we can bring the communities back into our schools to change the dynamic by which this City engages our public education system. Thank you to Ward Parkway Homes Association President Frank Haar, for your time and efforts.
Kansas City Council 4th District Neighborhood Presidents Meeting
On Tuesday, October 9, I attended back to back meetings to spread the message of change and engagement in our public schools with a group of 4th District neighborhood leaders. While I do not live in the 4th District after the January 2012 redistricting, I am still the Central West Representative on the City’s Neighborhood Advisory Council. During the meet and greet I was able to discuss my views of the District with the leaders of the 4th District, and let them know about the campaign. Thank you to Councilwoman Jan Marcason and Councilman Jim Glover for the invitation and the opportunity.
Meet and Greet
On Sunday, October 7, a good friend and supporter, Margo Quiriconi hosted a meet and greet for the campaign at her house in Armour Hills. This was a great opportunity to meet a group of engaged citizens who have and still do send their children to Kansas City Public Schools. They had a wealth of knowledge, and after my quick stump speech, I facilitated a discussion about what they thought was most needed at the District. I was pleased that the group’s ideas focused on my core belief in community engagement, marketing our successes and changing the negative perception that this City has of our public schools. And of course, this rebuilding of trust begins with reaccreditation. Thank you Margo for helping us spread the word about our message and this campaign.
Zone Blitz at Southwest Early College Campus
On Thursday, October 4, the Kansas City Public Schools administration hosted its Zone Blitz at Southwest Early College Campus, where all the schools in the newly created Zone 4 were invited to hear a motivational speaker about the importance of parental involvement in student education. Administrators, principals, teachers, School Advisory Committee leaders and parents all attended to discuss engagement strategies, share best practices, and review District programs and policy.
On Tuesday, October 2, MORE2 hosted the first candidate forum for the Kansas City Public Schools Board, 2nd Sub-District election. There was a great turnout at the event, and the questions from MORE2 as well as those from the audience really allowed me to address some of the core issues in the campaign.
It was an honor to be given the time to explain my approach of a grassroots, community organization strategy to engage the entire community in the success of our public school and how I intend to expand existing and build new partnerships with all stakeholders to improve student achievement. A special thanks to Janet Parks and MORE2 for putting the forum together and Crossroads Church KC for hosting us.