Mary Lim

Monday, September 28, 2015

va: ideas for AL


Since the beginning of the project, Sara and I have continued to feel overwhelmed. Somehow we still have not been able to narrow down our scope, and have not been able to feel excited about our idea. It seems like we always miss the mark, by stepping forward too many steps and then backtracking. This may be in part because of the complexity of the issue, and also the lack of direction. Hopefully our meeting with Michael Zeller on Thursday will provide us with some clarity.

Some ideas (look at previous blog post for more):
  • Social Media
    • highlight kid of the week, collect their story and photograph
    • AL does not currently have an Instagram account, so Sara and I would run this platform in order to advertise/promote the school. We would have to be involved in their events and activities
    • At the end of the project, we could compile all the images into one book/magazine/some sort of publication where we could distribute it to others
  • Spatial PSA
    • small scale scavenger hunt where people could pick up clues around the city and end up at AL --> could be one main event, with flyers/promo material leading up to it
    • it would mostly work as an adventure for kids to go through with their parents while learning about AL and diversity
  • Pen Pals / PostSecret
    • we would connect students from public schools and AL and exchange letters
    • they could also send it anonymously, and share intimate stories with each other


After talking with Kelly, we did some research and found out a couple of things. First, expanding AL to a high school may not be the direction we want to go in. I researched a bit more into the topic, and found out that this is actually a very controversial problem to take on. Using the failed merging of Southwest High School and AL as a case study, we saw how complex the issue can get. There was actually strong backlash to the partnership, specifically because of how the students at Southwest High School would be negatively effected. In order to avoid this controversy, Sara and I refined our problem statement once more:

Problem: Academie Lafayette's minority to majority ratio has flipped over the years.
integrating education in kansas city will benefit the city economically and also socially. the divide along troost, the increasing population of minorities, etc. will all be positively impacted by desegregation. low-income students can tap into the academic benefits of their high-achieving peers and high-quality teachers --> thereby improving childhood care, health, housing, economic security, and learning opportunities.

Things making it worse: 
-limited space availability (only 150 students), with around 500 applicants, 250 get turned down
-sibling priority - perpetuates the existing demographic ratio
-these days are paying less attention to promoting diversity overall
-only accepts children before first grade, not after (because it's a full-French immersion school)
-as a charter school, it necessitates high parent involvement for a student to succeed
within these issues above, you can tell that its the problem of the chicken or the egg: are students only succeeding at AL because they are already set up for success? their parents must be involved and proactive in order to get their kid into AL, and high parent involvement usually means a better home environment. this outputs higher achieving students. 

Things making it better:
-Parents Promoting Diveristy
-Academie Lafayette Expansion
-news coverage
-? Needs more research

Possible Solutions:
  • form a sister group to Parents Promoting Diversity called Kids for Diversity
    • this would mainly focus on the students of AL rather than their parents
    • it would encourage dialogue between not just parents, but their children
  • a platform which exposes the issues, and makes them transparent that provides both sides
    • while researching, articles were very vague about why the partnership failed and what exactly is happening with AL and KCPS
    • a clear messaging system that makes AL transparent would be helpful for the community on both sides
  • a campaign focused on integration
    • an initiation mainly focused on raising awareness about the benefits of integration and the current state of KC's education system
    • would use AL as a starting point/a model (but also point out what's wrong with AL)
  • creating an outreach program to inform minority parents with kids under 5 years old
    • we would sit down with parents and go over the application process
    • make it easy for them to apply, and remind them of deadlines
    • provide them some sort of guide that tells them what they should do
    • if they are not able to enroll their kid(s) then we will provide alternate options for education
  • getting kids from AL to talk to other public schools to tell their own stories
    • the kids themselves are the advocates, rather than adults
    • empowering kids
    • ex. Kid President on youtube

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