After another long, hot midwestern summer, it’s a relief to feel the cooler weather, see the leaves changing, and enjoy one of my personal favorites – football season. But as we all know, this time of year in Kansas City has far more to offer than tailgating and cheering for the Chiefs.
While we still have the weather on our side before winter sets in, I hope you’ll make time to enjoy some of the exhibits and performances featured in in the final weeks of Open Spaces, which closes at the end of October. This pioneering arts festival turned our City into an expansive art and performance space, featuring the work of acclaimed artists from around the country on display at sites throughout the City. The festival’s “hub” is Swope Park, featuring weekends filled with more exhibits from local artists, as well as food and music.
Open Spaces celebrates art in all its forms, including a weekend – Oct. 12 through 14 – of high profile concerts at the Starlight Theatre from The Roots, hometown favorite Janelle Monáe, and Vijay Iyer Sextet. I hope you’re able to get out and take advantage of at least an exhibit or performance from this amazing festival celebrating our City’s love and appreciation for the arts.
Of course, this time of year isn’t just about enjoying the outdoors or celebrating your favorite team. It’s also time to get back to work, back to the classroom, and this year, back to the voting booth.
It’s important you make your voice heard, regardless of whether it’s a midterm, general or municipal election. Many issues critical to the future of our community will be decided by who shows up on Election Day: education, immigration, infrastructure, tax policy, health care, public safety – you name it. If you care about even one of these issues, be sure to learn who and what will be on your ballot, and make a plan to vote. Elections really do matter.
While voters go the polls to help shape tomorrow’s laws and initiatives, Kansas City’s next several decades will depend on the children currently in classrooms, daycares and playgrounds throughout the City. These children are our future workforce, next civic leaders and professionals who will be responsible for building upon the momentum and progress we’ve worked so hard to achieve.
For Kansas City to continue moving forward for decades to come, it’s imperative we have an adaptable, skilled, and inclusive workforce. The only way we can ensure that future is to make sure all children living in Kansas City have access to a quality education, starting the year before kindergarten. Countless studies have shown that children who attend quality pre-K programs are far more prepared for kindergarten, and continue to out-perform their peers, leading to higher rates of high school and college graduation, lower incidents of crime, and higher earnings potential.
Currently, only 35 percent of our city’s four-year-olds attend a quality pre-K program. This means nearly two-thirds of Kansas City’s students will start kindergarten already steps behind due to a combination of lack of access and/or affordability of quality programs. This is not the way to build a skilled workforce ready for the future, and it’s definitely not how we make sure Kansas City continues to innovate and thrive. If we want safer neighborhoods, a stronger regional economy, and a vibrant community, we must make sure ALL our children get a fair start in their education.
Making sure our kids have access to a quality pre-K education is simply the best, most important investment we can make in Kansas City’s future. In April, we’ll have the chance to decide whether or not we will commit to making sure our bright future becomes reality.
Thank you for being an active citizen in our community, and I wish you the best as autumn turns into the holiday season.