The Kansas inner city school district received $2 billion 25 years ago from a desegregation case and have been spending ever since to build their school system’s attractiveness to suburban students. It seemed their efforts had been working as enrollment increased to a high point of 75,000 students in the 1960′s; however, it has been decreasing ever since and is just 17,000 this school year (according to CNN this morning). Some of the pricey attractions built in new “magnet” schools were an Olympic-size swimming pool with an underwater viewing room; a robotics lab; professional quality recording, television, and animation studios; theaters; a planetarium; an arboretum, a zoo and a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary; a two-floor library, art gallery, and film studio; a mock court with a judge’s chamber and jury deliberation room; and a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability (according to an analysis by Paul Ciotti). At the peak of spending, around 1991-92, spending per pupil was $11,700—more than double the year’s national average of $5,001 according to the U.S. Census that year. Part of the promise for increased spending and the smaller class sizes provided in these new schools were of course improved test scores, which never materialized.
In short, this plan went awry somewhere along the lines and many teachers have now sadly lost their jobs in Kansas City (as well as in many other cities across the nation, not to neglect). It appears to me that this has just turned out to be a situation that shows throwing money at an issue will not always resolve it.