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Archive for Wednesday, December 12, 1990

THIRD EDUCATION BOARD

December 12, 1990

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A proposal to create a third state education board to oversee technical and vocational training after high school could have a positive effect on the overall scheme of education in Kansas.

The proposal, which would take the form of an amendment to the Kansas Constitution, was recommended Tuesday by the Kansas Legislature's Joint Committee on Economic Development and is part of an effort to improve job training in the state. The proposed amendment would create a separate board to deal with community colleges and technical schools in the state.

Those schools currently are under the control of the Kansas Board of Education, which also has the tall order of overseeing education for youngsters in kindergarten through high school. While state board members are, no doubt, conscientious in their duties, it is difficult to cover such a broad spectrum of education needs. Taking care of the public schools is plenty to occupy their time and energies, and the concerns of post-secondary programs probably take a back seat.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Kansas Board of Regents, which regulates the state's university system. That system also has very specific demands, and it wouldn't seem in the best interests of either the universities or the community colleges to place all those schools under the regents' umbrella.

Community colleges and technical schools need special attention. Such schools have cropped up all over the state, and often are under the control of local boards or county officials. They serve an important role for their students, but they probably also would benefit from more statewide coordination.

The fact that the constitutional amendment comes from a committee on economic development also is an indication of how important good vocational training is to the state economy. If businesses and industries are to relocate or remain in Kansas, they need well-trained workers, and a strong post-high school training system can help supply those workers.

On first glance, there are pluses and minuses associated with the plan, and knowledgeable people should give serious review to this idea and perhaps look at vocational education plans in other states before making a final proposal for Kansas. The state should be hesitant to add to its ever-growing bureaucracy by creating new boards and committees, but the proposal for a post-secondary education board looks as if it merits further study.

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