I am in charge of visiting high schools in Kansas City and Southwest MO for UMKC. I visit small town high schools/inner city high schools/ and suburbia high schools. I get the opportunity to speak with students, teachers, counselors, and parents. My perspective on Missouri has changed. Honestly, up until very recently most of my exposure in MO was generally the larger cities, Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield. But after being able to visit about 50 high schools I have made some observations about the schools.
The most mature kids generally come from diverse communities where they learn to interact with different types of people. Homogeneous schools tend to not have an environment in which their views on others are held accountable. It is easy to make assumptions and generalizations about people you never interact with. One of my favorite high Schools outside of the Raytown district is Central High School in Springfield, MO. This school carries the most diversity of any school I have been to. They have inner-city kids, suburbia kids, special needs kids, and the I.B., International Baccalaureate students (I.B. students are the highest achieving students in the Springfield area). The students come from all walks of life. Their complex looks more like a an old college campus than a high School. It is an old and eclectic structure. I really believe this mix is the way to better prepare our youth socially. So much attention is given to merely the academic education of the students in school. Not much is given to the social development. The social development has a direct impact on the advancement of a society. Our nations issues of racism, prejudice, foreign relations, and even personal relationships in the work place have a direct correlation with how we socially develop our youth. If we engage them in diverse communities early, they gain an appreciation and vision for a diverse village. They will carry with them these values in whatever they pursue. So our business leaders, politicians, pastors and workers of the next generation will be able to move us forward as a society.