Education Update

The Brownback school finance plan which includes several pieces of policy intended to undermine public schools and public school teachers was adopted by both the House and Senate. The bill which should have been a simple response to the Supreme Court decision on equity in the school finance formula was turned into a vehicle for ALEC-inspired, anti-public education initiatives by the Senate in a floor debate.

Senators added amendments to the finance bill that would:

  • Grant millions of dollars in property tax cuts to parents of homeschooled or private school students,
  • Grant $10 million in tax credits to corporations who would provide vouchers to students to attend private schools - even unaccredited private schools,
  • Effectively end all teacher licensure standards for CTE, math, and science teachers, and
  • Strip K-12 teachers of the right to a due process hearing in the case of non-renewal, allowing administrators to fire teachers at will for no reason whatsoever.

Once this offensive bill passed the Senate, it went into conference committee with the House where an agreement was reached to keep all of this policy while funding the equity finance issues. When the bill hit the House floor it was rejected soundly.

The conference committee went back to work and then put together essentially the same bill but without the homeschooler property tax relief.  The conference committee report went first to the Senate where it was passionately debated. Democratic Senators Hensley, Pettey, Hawk, and Francisco blasted the bill over the misguided policy pieces until Senator Pat Apple (R-Louisburg) moved to close debate.

The motion to close debate caused an uproar as both Democrats and conservatives were cut off and denied the opportunity to have their voices heard. But the motion prevailed and the report was adopted on a vote of 22 to 16, sending it to the House.

After rejecting a similar bill the night before, House leadership spent the day arm-twisting and late last night the report was adopted on a vote of 63 to 57. Governor Brownback, who was AWOL during the entire school finance discussion, immediately tweeted how please he was that the legislature passed HIS school finance bill.

And this is how vouchers, the end of licensure standards, and the end of due process rights for teachers became law in Kansas without any hearings. Without any public input. Without appearing in bill form. Just being shoved into a finance bill on the fly by anti-teacher, anti-education legislators.

The vote count

If a legislator voted YEA on Sen Sub for HB 2506, that legislator supports vouchers, opposes teacher licensure, and believes teachers should be fired for no reason whatsoever at the whim of management.

HOUSE

Yeas: Barker, Bradford, Bruchman, Brunk, Couture-Lovelady, Carlson, Carpenter, Cassidy, Christmann, Claeys, Corbet, Crum, E. Davis, DeGraaf, Dove, Edwards, Esau, Estes, Gandhi, Garber, Goico, Grosserode, Hawkins, Hedke, Highland, Hildabrand, Hoffman, Houser, Howell, Huebert, Hutton, Johnson, Jones, Kahrs, Kelley, Kiegerl, Kinzer, Kleeb, Lunn, Macheers, Mason, Mast, McPherson, Meigs, Merrick, O'Brien, Osterman, Peck, Powell, Read, Rhoades, Rothlisberg, Rubin, Ryckman Jr., Ryckman Sr., Schwab, Seiwert, Suellentrop, Thimesch, Thompson, Todd, Vickrey, Waymaster.

Nays: Alcala, Alford, Anthimides, Ballard, Becker, Boldra, Bollier, Bridges, Burroughs, Campbell, Carmichael, Clayton, Concannon, Curtis, P. Davis, Dierks, Doll, Edmonds, Ewy, Finch, Finney, Frownfelter, Gonzalez, Henderson, Henry, Hibbard, Hineman, Jennings, Kelly, Kuether, Lane, Lusk, Lusker, Meier, Menghini, Moxley, Pauls, Perry, Petty, Phillips, Proehl, Rooker, Ruiz, Sawyer, Schroeder, Sloan, Sloop, Swanson, Tietze, Trimmer, Victors, Ward, Weigel, Whipple, Wilson, Winn, Wolfe Moore.

Absent or not voting: Carlin, Hill, Houston, Schwartz, Sutton.

SENATE

Yeas: Apple, Arpke, Bruce, Denning, Fitzgerald, Holmes, King, Knox, LaTurner, Love, Lynn, Melcher, O'Donnell, Olson, Ostmeyer, Petersen, Pilcher-Cook, Powell, Shultz, Smith, Tyson, Wagle.

Nays: Abrams, Bowers, Faust-Goudeau, Francisco, Haley, Hawk, Hensley, Holland, Kelly, Kerschen, Longbine, McGinn, Pettey, Pyle, V. Schmidt, Wolf.

Absent or Not Voting: Donovan, Masterson.

Let's talk School Finance

Presently the Kansas Senate considers cutting $2 million dollars to the Lawrence school district. Apparently unwilling to invest significant new money in our public schools, the Kansas Senate considers shuffling money within the overall education budget to meet the Kansas Supreme Court ruling on providing more equity between school districts. While Kansas has made the fourth-deepest cut in educational funding in the nation since the recession, the Kansas Senate now proposes to make further cuts in base per-pupil funding for virtual education, reducing funds to improve reading and math proficiency, reducing funds for at risk students, and reducing transportation funds. Please contact Senator Susan Wagle, the Senate President from Wichita Susan.Wagle@senate.ks.gov, that robbing Peter to pay Paul is unacceptable. Read the Article

 

Representative Marc Rhoades, a Newton Republican and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, concluded that Republican Kansas legislators are trying to limit the amount of new money that goes into complying with the court school funding order. Rhoades describes it as a “real chore” to get a majority of Republicans to agree to spend tens of millions of dollars more in new money on schools. Sadly, kindergartners appear to be a big loser in this legislative deal making.

Read the Article

 

Within the new school finance bill (HB 2774) Lawrence schools stand to lose $190,000 for student transportation. This would be in addition to substantive cuts over the past few years.

Read the Article

 

"This is a no-brainer of sorts. There is a simple solution here and that is to pass the bill that I introduced that would fund the $129 million, and do it as a clean bill. That's what the court wants us to do." - Paul Davis, House Minority Leader

Read the Article

Join Game On in their Walk to the Capitol

PRESS RELEASE                                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

Game On Hopes Walk is a Game Changer for State Legislature

Local Mom Makes Second Walk from Merriam to Topeka, Others Join

Merriam, Kan. –  Last year the group Game On for Kansas Schools made headlines when member and local mom, Heather Ousley, made the 60 plus mile trek from her house in Merriam to the capitol building in Topeka.  With the motto of “Just one walk,” the group aimed to air their frustrations with state legislators over the budgetary cuts to public schools in the state and the emergence of a privatization agenda.

This second walk comes on the heels of the Gannon equity decision, for which Game On says it is grateful. Still, they point out that adequate funding for the school system is still a year or two down the road - which does little to eliminate the sting of the cuts that children and teachers in this state are currently feeling. In addition to school funding, walkers say they are stepping out against proposed reforms in Kansas, such as those set out in SB 196 which was introduced in the statehouse earlier this year. Leaders of the group claim that SB 196 and other bills like it are touted as school choice, but would actually privatize schools and create a two-tiered system that would be harmful to the children in the state.

Organizers of this grassroots effort hope the growing number of participants this year will motivate lawmakers to listen and work with them.  “Parents, teachers, and community members are all in the game. Our goal is to increase their participation in the political process and encourage our elected officials to meet the needs of Kansas children,” said Judith Deedy, who helped organize the walk.

Ousley commented, “Last year, I walked to raise awareness, and to ask for the funds necessary to preserve our public schools for our kids.  This year there are six of us walking the entire route with the same message.  We are walking for every kid in Kansas.  We will not sit idly by in the face of funding cuts and so called reforms.  Last year I had the advantage of not knowing what sixty miles feels like.  This year I know.  And it's still worth it.  Game On."

Joining Ousley en route to Topeka will be other members of Game On, teachers, and other community leaders. They will depart from 6800 Farley in Merriam at 9:30 AM on Friday, March 28th, and they will walk The Final Mile on Monday, March 31st leaving from the Supreme Court building at 1:30 and walking to the capitol building.  They invite you to join them on Twitter as they post live updates of their journey.

Game on for Kansas Schools is a nonpartisan grassroots effort by a group of parents, teachers, and concerned members of the community who believe that high-quality public education is a right for all Kansas students.

 

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Action Alert!

Educate Lawrence Action Alert

The Kansas legislature is entering the crunch time of passing legislation and addressing school funding. Educate Lawrence recommends the following key messages to share with your legislators.

  1. Please pass a clean school budget bill now with at least $130 million of new funding to address wealth disparities across districts. Public school funding must not be tied to other educational policy legislation. Following the Gannon decision, the Governor’s eight guiding principles on education funding should frame this new school finance bill.
  2. In addition, fully fund all-day kindergarten from new funding sources.
  3. Please don’t change school board elections. These elections must remain non-partisan and allow new board members to begin their responsibilities in alignment with the school year.
  4. Please do not expand charter schools or enact the corporate tuition tax credit. With the current meager funding of our schools, further resources must not be taken away from our public school districts.

If you need to identify your legislator, please enter your address in the following website. http://openkansas.org/

Here is a listing of our community’s Kansas House representatives along with their contact information.

State Representative, 10th District John Wilson (D) Phone(s): (785) 296-7652 (Topeka) Website: http://kslegislature.org/li/b2013_14/members/rep_wilson_john_1/ Email: john.wilson@house.ks.gov

State Representative, 42nd District Connie O’Brien (D) Phone(s): (785) 296-7683 (Topeka), (913) 706-2396 (Tonganoxie) Website: http://www.kslegislature.org/li_2012/b2011_12/members/rep_obrien_connie_1/ Email: connie.obrien@house.ks.gov

State Representative, 44th District Barbara Ballard (D) Phone(s): (785) 296-7697 (Topeka), (785) 841-0063 (Lawrence) Website: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/year1/members/rep_ballard_barbara_1/ Email: barbara.ballard@house.ks.gov

State Representative, 45th District Tom Sloan (R) Phone(s): (785) 296-7654 (Topeka), (785) 841-1526 (Lawrence) Website: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/year1/members/rep_sloan_tom_1/ Email: tom.sloan@house.ks.gov

State Representative, 46th District Paul Davis (D) Phone(s): (785) 296-7630 (Topeka), (785) 749-1942 (Lawrence) Website: http://www.kslegislature.org/li_2012/b2011_12/members/rep_davis_paul_1/ Email: paul.davis@house.ks.gov

State Representative, 54th District Ken Corbet (R) Term Expires: 2014 Address: Room 179-N, State Capitol, Topeka, KS 66612 Phone(s): (785) 296-7679 (Topeka) Website: http://kslegislature.org/li/b2013_14/members/rep_corbet_ken_1/ Email: ken.corbet@house.ks.gov

State Senator, 2nd District Marci Francisco (D) Address: Room 134-E, State Capitol, Topeka, KS 66612 Phone: 785-296-7364 (Topeka) Website: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2013_14/members/sen_francisco_marci_1/ Email: Marci.Francisco@senate.ks.gov

State Senator, 3rd District Tom Holland (D) Address: Room 134-E, State Capitol, Topeka, KS 66612 Phone: 785-296-7372 (Topeka) Website: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2013_14/members/sen_holland_tom_1/ Email: Tom.Holland@senate.ks.gov

Thank you!

Current Education Funding Level found Unconstitutional

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled today that the funding levels of our public schools are unconsitutional. Read the Article

Read the Ruling

"More than 20 judges over the past 20 years have consistently ruled that the state is shortchanging the kids of Kansas," said John Robb, general counsel at Schools for Fair Funding. "It is again time for the Legislature to do what the constitution requires and restore funding to the schools." Read/Watch More

Call for Action -- Charter School Bill

Game On for Kansas Schools sent out the following action alert on the Charter School Bill. Tuesday, February 25, the Senate Education Committee will work/vote on SB196 the For-Profit Charter School bill. Please contact committee members and urge them to vote NO on Senate Bill 196. Here is the committee email list: Steve.Abrams@senate.ks.gov, Tom.Arpke@senate.ks.gov, Anthony.Hensley@senate.ks.gov, Dan.Kerschen@senate.ks.gov, Jeff.Melcher@senate.ks.gov, Ralph.Ostmeyer@senate.ks.gov, Pat.Pettey@senate.ks.gov, Dennis.Pyle@senate.ks.gov, Vicki.Schmidt@senate.ks.gov, Caryn.Tyson@senate.ks.gov, Kay.Wolf@senate.ks.gov http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2013_14/measures/sb196/

Call For Action -- School Board Elections

The Mainstream Coaltion calls for the below action alert on SB 211 that would move local school board elections to November.
The Kansas Association of School Boards opposes SB 211 and HB 2227 which would also change local elections.
ACTION ALERT: Stop the Attack on K12 Public Education #2Parties shouldn't elect leaders, people should. ______________________________________________________
Call or email: Tues & Wed (Feb 25-26) Call the assistant from the committee below. State your name and say “I oppose the local elections bills (SB211).” Ask that your opposition be shared with the Committee Chair & Members.Call 785-296-7667 to contact Diane Tork, Assistant to Sen Mitch Holmes, Chair, Senate Ethics and Elections Comm to:

Oppose Changes to Local Elections (SB211) – WEDNESDAY

This bill is unnecessary and problematic. SB211 would move local spring elections to coincide with November elections in the even numbered years. (Sadly, the similar HB 2227 was passed out of House Elections Committee today on a 6-6 vote, tie breaker went to Rep. Schwab.) Currently, municipal and school board elections are typically held in the Spring. This would complicate scheduling as new school board members would take office in January – middle of the school year. As amended, this bill would make the elections ‘semi’ non-partisan by allowing the parties to fill vacancies based on the party affiliation of the vacancy. Parties shouldn't elect leaders, people should. Let's keep partisan politics out of local elections and out of our schools.

If you email the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and leadership leadership: Use this subject: OPPOSE Changes to Local Elections (SB211) Paste these emails into your email: Mitch.Holmes@senate.ks.gov, Michael.ODonnell@senate.ks.gov, Oletha.Faust-Goudeau@senate.ks.gov, Steve.Fitzgerald@senate.ks.gov, Tom.Arpke@senate.ks.gov, David.Haley@senate.ks.gov, Garrett.Love@senate.ks.gov, Greg.Smith@senate.ks.gov, Kay.Wolf@senate.ks.gov, Susan.Wagle@senate.ks.gov, Ray.Merrick@house.ks.gov

http://www.kslegislature.org/li/

Common Core Debate Update

Sadly, the Kansas legislature is shifting the Common Core standards away from educational outcomes to political positioning. Read the Article

 

"The main objection Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, has to the standards, however, is that they are part of a federal government mandate. That’s a common misconception, but, nonetheless, wrong. Development of the Common Core standards and the Next Generation Science Standards was a cooperative effort of education officials in the states. The standards, which are designed to prepare students for college and the workforce, have been adopted in most states and have the support of educators in Kansas and elsewhere." - LJW Editorial

Read the Article

More About Private Schools

Tom Krebs with the Kansas Association of School Boards stated that the legislation to offer tax credits for private school education doesn't hold private schools fiscally accountable and that home schools might even qualify. - Topeka Capitol Journal Online Read the Article

 

“Education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments…Such an opportunity…is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms,” wrote Chief Justice Warren in the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. The trend towards charter schools moves away from this goal. The National Education Policy Center notes that “Charter schools…can shape their student enrollment in surprising ways,” through practices that often exclude “students with special needs, those with low test scores, English learners, or students in poverty.” - Paul Buchheit, AlterNet

Read the Article

 

On February 20, 2014 Carpe Diem charter schools was given several hours to advertise its services among the House Education Committee in the Kansas Legislature. The not-for-profit Carpe Diem schools were founded by Rick Ogston of Yuma, Arizona. Ogston was introduced by Senator Jeff Melcher who is sponsoring a sort of "Carpe Diem tour" in Kansas. - KNEA Legislative Update

 

Bills being debated

Charter SchoolsThe Senate Education Committee is considering SB 196, a significant expansion of charter schools. According to the Kansas National Education Association (KNEA), this legislation would create a system for any private school to find an authorized to declare it as a public charter school making it eligible for state aid for every student currently enrolled. This could have significant fiscal implications for our state. According to KNEA, "Research shows that charter schools do not increase student achievement and, in most cases actually perform more poorly than traditional schools. A large expansion of charter schools also often results in the re-segregation of education."  Read the Bill

 

School Board Elections

The Kansas legislature is holding hearing on changing the dates of school board elections. HB 2227 would change school board and other local elections from April of odd-numbered years to November of odd-numbered years, but keep these elections non-partisan. SB 211 would move local elections to November of even-numbered years, and make them partisan. The Kansas Association of School Boards opposes both bills. Read the Bill

Learn more about School Finance and Lawrence Schools

"School Finance: State Decisions and Lawrence Schools"February 20, 2014, at the Watkins Community Museum, 1047 Massachusetts. 11:30-Noon: Eat, socialize, learn about how much the League has influenced state educational policies in the past. 12:00: Speakers and discussion: Vanessa Sanburn, Lawrence School Board; Mark Desetti from Kansas National Education Association.

HB 2621 Seeks to Void Current State Standards

LJWorld -- HB 2621 would nullify Common Core standards in Kansas. It's sponsor admits he hasn't seen the actual content of the standards. Fortunately House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stillwell, said the bill could have a hard getting through the House.Read More

KASB will oppose legislative efforts to void current state curriculum standards for three reasons: (1) Setting standards is the constitutional duty of the State Board; (2) KASB supports the implementation of new, more rigorous college and career-ready standards and new assessments based on the current standards; and (3) School districts have been implementing the standards for several years. Changes in state standards should be part of the regular cycle of review and improvement. Read More

Education Spending in Kansas

This graph illustrates the decline in total state funding per student since 2009.Screen shot 2014-02-12 at 10.36.29 AM

This graph compares school funding in Kansas to the nation. Kansas has suffered the fourth deepest funding cuts in the nation. Thanks to the Southwest Plains Regional Service Center for this graph. Screen shot 2014-02-12 at 10.30.51 AM

"How can Gov. Sam Brownback say he increased school funding when school districts point to funding cuts? It’s because Brownback is counting money that school districts can’t spend on educating children." - Wichita Eagle Editorial Read the Editorial

Speaking of Vouchers ...

"And unlike public schools, schools that get vouchers—because they are private—can discriminate on the basis of prior academic achievement, standardized test scores, interviews with applicants and parents, gender, religion, special needs, and behavioral history. And if the voucher isn’t enough to cover the cost of tuition, those families who can’t afford to pay the difference will be turned away." - Brian WashingtonRead the Article

Current Bills related to Education

House Bill 2227 would move local primary and general elections to August and November. Legitimate concerns are that this is the first step in making school board elections more partisan.Read the Article

SB 305 would end state capital improvement aid for districts’ bond and interest payments for bonds approved by voters after June 30, 2014. Funds that have been used for capital improvement aid for bonds approved after that date would be used in certain circumstances to fund the state aid program for local option budgets. Read the Bill

HB 2521 requires local school boards to request proof of lawful residence whenever a child enrolls or is enrolled in a public school for the first time. The number of students who fail to provide such proof would be reported to the state. Failure to provide documentation would not be grounds for refusing to enroll the students. Read the Bill

SB275 is a bill introduced in the Kansas legislature. It would prohibit the use of public funds or resources “to expressly advocate for the passage or defeat of any proposition to be submitted at a question submitted election.” This bill would relate to bond elections or elections for constitutional amendments. This bill could limit the ability of schools to provide mock student elections and public forums. Read the Bill

KASB: The Quarter-Million Dollar Classroom? A Great Investment!

Governor Sam Brownback, in his State of the State address January 15, 2014, said that in the previous year, Kansas residents spent more than $12,500 per student in grades K-12. This works out to roughly $250,000 spent for a class of 20 students, covering virtually every facet of a student’s education from the textbooks to the gymnasium to the support staff. That big number is intended to get your attention, and should lead to two questions: “What is that money being spent on?” And, “What are Kansans receiving for that investment?”

Here’s the answer to the first question: “What is that money being spent on?”

KASB figures_2

And the answer to the second question - “What are Kansans receiving for that investment?”

  • Kansas public schools have improved in virtually every consistent education measure over past decades. The investments Kansans have made in the past in our public schools are paying off.
  • Educational completion is up across the board in Kansas: high school, four-year degree programs and advanced degree programs have all seen increases. That means an educated, skilled workforce to keep our Kansas economy strong.
  • An individual earns significantly more over his or her lifetime with every level of education they complete. A student with a high school diploma will earn $10,000 more per year than a student without one; a student with a four-year degree will earn $10,000 more per year than a student without one; and so on. That means an improved standard of living and a decline in poverty.

The bottom line? Kansas actually spends less per student than the national average while ranking eighth in achievement areas, such as mathematics and reading, on multiple academic measures. Kansas public schools are a great investment.