State Board of Education Chairman Steve Abrams said Tuesday that Kansas should consider whether it should leave behind the federal No Child Left Behind law.
"If there is any way to reduce the burden" for teachers and administrators, Abrams said, the state should investigate.
The No Child Left Behind law requires improving all students' academic achievements and measures that progress through numerous tests.
Educators nationwide, including in Kansas, have complained that the law intrudes on local decision-making, fails to provide adequate funds, and produces an endless amount of paperwork.
Several states are discussing opting out of the law or lobbying Congress to make changes.
Speaking to the board, Lawrence Supt. Randy Weseman said the philosophy behind No Child Left Behind is the same as that of the Lawrence school district.
"If No Child Left Behind left tomorrow, I wouldn't miss the bureaucracy, but it wouldn't change our mission at all," Weseman said.
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Abrams' remarks about the federal law were made during a wide-ranging discussion about state education standards for schools.
Department of Education staff members said Kansas' standards are as high or higher than the No Child Left Behind law.
Abrams said he didn't want to reduce the state standards, but added that perhaps Kansas' standards could be maintained while the paperwork and testing burdens of the federal law were removed.
"Shouldn't we analyze that?" he asked.
Abrams said the discussion may be one the board pursues in the future.
Newly hired Education Commissioner Bob Corkins has said he would support a board decision to seek an exemption for Kansas from the No Child Left Behind mandates.
The discussion was prompted by an appeal in August from Atty. Gen. Phill Kline and state Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, who told the board that maintaining the standard that all students will be grade-level proficient in reading and math by 2014 was unrealistic and could invite lawsuits against the school system. The officials suggested the board change its standards to "goals."
But board attorney Dan Biles said changing the language of standards would not determine whether a court would find the state is failing its constitutional duty to provide a suitable education.
"Fiddling with the language really doesn't become a silver bullet one way or the other," Biles said.
And he added that problems with No Child Left Behind "are going to be fixed because so many states are having problems."