education

The Kansas Supreme Court will hear two hours of oral arguments Wednesday in the Gannon school funding case.

It's hard to imagine an educator, lawmaker or legislative candidate not sitting on the edge of their seat looking for a clue as to how the justices will rule.

Here are some FAQs on the hearing:

So you're telling me the case is still going? Didn't we just have a big Gannon story not long ago?

alamosbasement, flickr Creative Commons

The largest teachers union in the state is asking the Kansas Supreme Court to overturn a law making it easier to fire teachers.

The 2014 bill took away a teacher’s right to an impartial hearing before being fired. Under a previous law, after three years, teachers were awarded that protection under the previous law.

At a hearing today, the union said lawmakers violated the state Constitution, which says bills can only contain one subject. KNEA General Counsel David Schauner says lawmakers improperly took a school funding bill and added the provision stripping tenure.

Shannan Muskopf / Flickr

Recent Kansas ACT scores were higher than the national average.

More than 24,000 Kansas students took the 2016 ACT college entrance exam, which, according to a new report from the ACT, is the highest number of test-takers in the past five years.

The state’s average test score was 21.9 out of a total 36 points. In the Wichita Public Schools district, the average score was 19.7; nationally, students scored an average of 20.8 points.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A new report from the Kansas Association of School Boards says Kansas ranks well nationally in many education categories, but it also includes some signs that Kansas may be lagging.

The Kansas Board of Education is creating a group to study the teacher shortage that's affecting parts of Kansas. As Stephen Koranda reports, the group will recommend ways to make the job more attractive and keep teachers from leaving the career.

The new committee will look at issues like why fewer people are becoming teachers in Kansas and what they can do to reverse that trend.

“This ship will not be turned around in a day, but we have to start the process of turning the ship,” says Board of Education Chairman Jim McNiece.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas House today approved a bill creating an ethnic studies curriculum for Kansas schools, but then took a change of course on the plan.

The House initially approved an amendment requiring the Kansas Department of Education to develop an optional ethnic studies curriculum. Democratic Rep. Ponka-We Victors, who’s Native American, says she has found many students don’t know enough about other cultures.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

There seems to be a growing tenseness over the future of education in Kansas. The fight last year over block grant funding was hardball and, at times, ugly. Teachers felt under the gun, and many decided to leave the state.

But as KCUR’s Sam Zeff reports, educators say the attacks this legislative session feel particularly bitter.

It’s Wednesday, 30 minutes before the House Education Committee will meet and room 112-North in the Kansas Statehouse is packed.

It’s hot, there’s not enough seats, and the Capitol police, who rarely leave entrance, are in the room.

Michael B. / flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers yesterday heard from supporters and opponents of a bill that would consolidate school districts. The bill would set a minimum size for districts, and those that are too small would merge.

The goal is combining administrations to create more efficient organizations. Republican Rep. John Bradford told skeptics of the bill that it wouldn’t result in schools closing.

Christopher Sessums / flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers will hold hearings this week on a bill that could trim back the number of school districts in Kansas significantly.

The bill sets requirements for the minimum size of districts. If districts are too small, they would be merged. The strategy behind the bill is efficiency, not by closing schools, but by consolidating administrations between schools districts.

Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, spoke to education officials about the potential impact. He says the bill could affect local control.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File Photo

A bill before the Kansas Legislature is aimed at avoiding conflicts of interest on local school boards. But as KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, it could make nearly half of current school board members ineligible for their jobs.

To avoid conflicts of interest, the bill would bar anyone from serving on a school board if a family member works for a school district.

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