The Children are Our Future,
and an Investment in Them Is an Investment in the Future of Our City, State, Nation, and Our World!
By Chrystal Truss, Manager of Operations
My commitment to education stems from the fact that growing up, I considered a college education unattainable because of family size and income. My parents ensured that there was a home, food, clothes, and gifts for special occasions for seven children. I never felt deprived of anything significant. Education was a priority in my family, and we rarely missed school; attending when we were sick or in the deadliest of winters. But although my home life was stable and structured, and education was important, the likelihood of my parents financing a college education for seven children was slim.
Beginning in high school, I started to realize that many others had access to better opportunities because of where they lived, their role models and the influence of mentors, the schools they attended, and their ethnicity. Driving through more affluent neighborhoods provided a visual that raised my awareness of the vast differences that existed. For instance, I noticed that school structures were massive and nicely designed, neighborhoods did not have dilapidated or boarded up houses, streets were clear of trash and debris, and there was not a liquor store every few blocks. As a young adult starting my career, I learned from my co-workers that the various academic resources, access to counseling and tutoring, and overall quality of education that they experienced was quite different from mine. As I compared my own experiences to those of my peers, I developed a curiosity about access to education and opportunities for academic success.
For the majority of my life, I have worked in the education system for various organizations including the Kansas City, Missouri School District, Kansas City Freedom School Initiative, and the Kauffman Foundation. In addition, my children matriculated through public schools in the Greater Kansas City area. Throughout my experiences as an employee and as a parent, I witnessed injustice, vast disparities, a lack of and misuse of resources, selfishness, and pride. And the results were always the same, injurious consequences to those who matter most – our children and students. And in particular, black students.
It is my heartfelt desire that my grandchildren, and all children regardless of race, gender or socio-economic status, have equitable access to the greatest curriculum and instruction, facilities, mentors, role models, counseling, intervention services, life skills, and more to receive the finest education.
While it is guaranteed that challenges will arise as we continue to develop platforms for success, I believe it is imperative that we engage in difficult conversations, collaborate, partner, push, encourage, motivate, and inspire each other and our students to take action, overcome obstacles, and dismantle systems. In turn, we must establish systems that are more equitable in order to create paths for every student to receive a quality education, realize their dreams, succeed in life, and have a positive influence in their community.
I am proud to be a part of the SchoolSmartKC team that is focused and driven to level the playing field, close the achievement gap, break down barriers, and provide opportunities for success for all students. The children are our future and an investment in them is an investment in the future of our city, state, nation, and our world!