To remain globally competitive and successful in the knowledge economy, the Kansas City region must have a high quality, adequately funded, accessible and accountable P-20 education system. Improving the quality of P-20 education and increasing the number of qualified working adults in the Kansas City region will require implementing a coordinated strategy across the Kansas City business and civic community and alignment of the “P” (early), K-12 (primary and secondary), and post-secondary (16-20+) education systems.
Education has been a Civic Council priority since its founding in 1964. As times have changed and new issues, challenges and opportunities emerged, the Civic Council’s focus, strategies and initiatives have evolved as well. The Civic Council embarked on a new approach in 2012 that recognizes the importance of having an integrated strategy across early childhood, K-12 and post-secondary education and training.
The achievement of an integrated system will require careful targeting of any new investments and initiatives to increase the quality of P-20 education. This new focus is guided by the P-20 Education Committee, comprised of Civic Council members and community partners. This committee’s work requires the commitment of considerable time and effort, resources and dedication over the long-term (10-20 years).
PREP-KC. Launched by the Civic Council in 2005, PREP-KC (Partnership for Regional Education Preparation) is a regional education intermediary focused on systems-level change in the urban school districts. PREP-KC uses an aggregated philanthropy model, and provides knowledge and expertise, as well as unified support, communication, advocacy and pressure to achieve results. Through PREP-KC’s modest annual investment of private and philanthropic funds, millions of public dollars are re-distributed by school districts to implement proven strategies for improving student outcomes. These strategies include math benchmarking and college and career readiness programs, such as summer bridge programs, early college credit attainment and the exposure of students to working professionals in a variety of settings.
Over the last several decades, state support for higher education has steadily declined as a percentage of the cost to educate students. Reductions in state support for higher education negatively impacts the development of a workforce pipeline that will enable Kansas and Missouri to compete in a global economy, grow jobs, attract and retain the best talent.
The social and economic opportunities facing the Kansas City region can only be addressed by educating many more people beyond high school. Post-secondary education, including job training, is a prerequisite to success in today’s knowledge-based economy. Of the working-age adults in the Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area, 24 percent currently have some post-secondary education or training but do not have a degree or training certificate.
The demand for well-educated and trained workers in our regional economy over the next decade will require that our communities create opportunities for these individuals to complete their education, ensure that graduates have the skills necessary to compete in the global economy and attract and retain the best-qualified students to meet the region’s workforce needs.
With this in mind, the Civic Council advocates in both Kansas and Missouri in support of higher education institutions’ budgets and the programming necessary to achieve these goals.