education

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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:

State lawmakers are resuming their talks about education funding.

A Kansas Supreme Court ruling last week said the state has created inequalities between schools districts and that lawmakers violated the Kansas Constitution by cutting funds that help equalize school district budgets.

The group that filed that lawsuit, and some lawmakers, say the solution is to restore more than $100 million dollars in education funds.

Democratic House Representative and governor candidate Paul Davis says Kansas has fallen short.

Gov. Sam Brownback is preparing to propose the state pick up the additional cost of providing all-day kindergarten in Kansas public schools.

Kansas is one of 42 states and 71 programs nationwide to receive federal grants that focus on using locally grown food in schools and agriculture education programs.

Kansas Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman says eight school districts with AG-ed programs will be selected to receive $12,500 each.

They'll use the money to develop a way to get local food served in school meal programs.

The goal is to get a minimum of two locally produced food items served in school cafeterias each month.

Room and board costs at Kansas' six public universities would increase next year under a proposal before the state's Board of Regents.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that under the proposal, the traditional arrangement of two residents per room and a typical meal plan would increase 2.5 percent next year at the University of Kansas.

A state official says Kansas schools are becoming better prepared to respond to natural and man-made disasters but will need more resources to keep improving.

Bob Hull, director of the Kansas Center for Safe and Prepared Schools, told lawmakers Thursday that shrinking federal grants have limited the state's ability to help schools prepare for tornadoes or violent intruders.

Hull says that schools are conducting more drills and risk assessments. But he adds that more money is needed to build safe rooms and provide crisis training.

A special legislative committee is opening two days of hearings to review the Kansas school finance system and study the practices of neighboring states.

The meetings Wednesday and Thursday also include a discussion of staffing changes by school districts and how they compare to neighboring states. Policy analysts are expected to also discuss trends in school choice programs nationwide.

The committee is led by Republican Kasha Kelley, chair of the House Education Committee, and Republican Senator Steve Abrams, a former State Board of Education member.

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