education

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 report places Kansas 10th overall nationwide when comparing states on test scores, high school graduation rates and the number of students that go on to college. However, the report says Kansas has slipped in some areas, such as test scores.

Mark Tallman, with the KASB, says the information is an “early warning” that Kansas needs to take steps to remain competitive.

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.

Christopher Sessums / flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas Education Commission is expected to unveil a new vision for schools that helps students attain non-academic skills such as conscientiousness, perseverance and collaboration.

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson shared the plan during the Kansas Department of Education's annual conference in Wichita.

The ideas comes from community meetings, which were organized to find out what people want from K-12 education. Watson says Kansans want to place equal focus on helping students attain non-academic skills in order to be successful in the workforce.

Christopher Sessums / flickr Creative Commons

At a series of recent public meetings, thousands of Kansans and business leaders described what they want students to learn in Kansas schools. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, state education officials have compiled the responses and are now touring Kansas to unveil the information.

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson says they got some surprising results. Instead of a focus on basic academic skills like reading and math, businesses and Kansans said they want students to have more non-academic skills, like teamwork, communication and persistence.

Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill that rewrites the rules for teachers, school administrators and other public employees who return to work after retiring.

Public employees currently are allowed to retire but return to work and earn up to $20,000 a year while drawing their pension benefits. Schools regularly use the program for hard-to-fill positions.

The program expires at the end of June. The bill would make changes to the program after extending it for a year.

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