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.

An effort to repeal a 10-year-old law that gives the children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition is alive in the Legislature. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, the measure remains bottled up in a committee.

Alberto G, flickr Creative Commons

What we got to do, is we got to nip Commonism in the bud. And by “Commonism” what I mean is Common Core. Common Core is Commonism.

We didn’t have no Commonism when me and all them other Kansans got our learning. And just look at what a bang-up job we done! Our smartness done made this state we got here into a sort of compost pile that attracts the bestest and the most brightest.

kereifsnyder / Flickr / Creative Commons


How well are Americans doing with civic literacy?

The results of the 2010 National Assessment of Education Progress, known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” demonstrate that most K-12 students are learning little about civics and history. Only 22 percent of fourth-grade students, 18 percent of eighth-graders, and 13 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency in American history.

A Kansas education official says a new tax-credit system to fund private school tuition for low-income students is on track to start in January.

Deputy education commissioner Dale Dennis says application forms for the tuition program are nearly ready.

The program will allow businesses to donate to nonprofit organizations for scholarships for low-income children attending public schools to transfer to private schools. The businesses would receive a tax credit that subtracts 70 percent of their donation from their tax bills.

Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

The U.S. goes through periodic bouts of doubt regarding what education means.

In the latest round, we have the Common Core and No Child Left Behind pushing us toward ever more measurable outcomes and ever less certainty about what kids actually should learn. These trends equate education with “performance” and “achievement,” “success” and “excellence.”

I’ve been around education circles just long enough to recognize these as only trends, soon to be replaced by other trends, none of them particularly helpful in understanding education.

You know that soccer mom who jogs by your house every morning? The other day she went right up to your son’s third grade teacher and stripped her naked of the due process rights she’s had for the last 57 years here in Kansas.

And that guy who was smiling and joking with me in the checkout line at the grocery last Saturday? He lit a firebomb, taped a tax credit for private school supporters on it, and flung it through the window of a first grade classroom in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Kansas schools already struggling to administer math and reading assessment tests have another problem now.

State education officials say unknown people launched cyber attacks against the tests.

The attackers slowed down or disabled networks used to administer the tests by overwhelming them with traffic, rather than hacking into them.

The attacks started Thursday and briefly stopped on Sunday.

Testing ran smoothly on Monday but the cyber attacks resumed on Tuesday.

Kansas House Republicans have outlined a plan that fully funds aid to poor school districts... but ties the money to policy changes that expand parents' choices on where to send their children to school.

The bill provides an additional $129 million dollars to poor school districts, in compliance with a recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling in an education funding lawsuit.

The bill also includes measures like: