Archive for Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kansas drops out of `Race to the Top’ education competition

April 13, 2010


— Kansas has dropped out of the competition for a “Race to the Top” federal education grant.

The 9-0 decision Tuesday by the State Board of Education means Kansas will not try to win approximately $166 million in federal funds for school districts.

The decision comes at a time when Kansas schools have been hit by several rounds of funding cuts because of the state budget crisis.

But members of the Education Board voiced several problems with “Race to the Top,” which is a $4.35 billion federal grant program that the Obama administration has described as “the equivalent of education reform’s moon shot.”

Kansas failed to make the cut in the first round of competition for a slice of the grant. According to the state Department of Education, Kansas ranked 29th out of 40 states and Washington D.C. in the first round. The top 15 states and D.C. were selected as finalists. Kansas was scheduled to re-submit a proposal in June for a second round of competition.

Interim Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker indicated that Kansas had several shortcomings in the eyes of the federal grant reviewers. Two of those were that Kansas has no statewide evaluation system of teachers and principals, and no system of tying teacher compensation to student achievement, she said.

Also, Kansas scored low in providing alternative pathways for people to become licensed teachers. “The only group that issues a teacher’s license are our institutions of higher education,” DeBacker said. “They (the federal government) are saying, open up the doors and let other people train and license teachers.”

Several board members said the didn’t agree with that approach.

Other board members said the federal criteria required more centralized control of public school education, which they said is contrary to Kansas’ culture of local control.

“If you are a local control state, you are at a disadvantage,” said board member Sally Cauble, R-Liberal.

Board member David Dennis, a Republican from Wichita, said the refusal to compete for the grant “sends a signal to Washington that we don’t want to play their game.” Democrats on the board also supported not pursuing the grant.


gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

The Feds have a point. Even better would be having a single national standard. It's stupid that we have no educational consistency from one place to the next. Americans move too often to not have national standards. Some 7th grader gets moved from one city to another, or one state to another, and not only are the textbooks different, there's a very good chance that what's being taught in the new school bears no resemblance to what was being covered where he came from. Schools should start on the same day, end on the same day, be out for the same holidays, and teach the same things to the same ages at the same time from the same textbooks. We'd save billions, and have a better-educated populace--provided that only trained educators made the curriculum decisions.

geekyhost 7 years, 1 month ago

And that none of the people making curriculum decisions were from Texas.

overthemoon 7 years, 1 month ago

Would hate for those kids to learn about reality instead of ideological mythology.

anonyname 7 years, 1 month ago

lawrenceguy40, most textbooks are essentially written either Texas or California, as it makes more financial sense for the publishers to meet the needs of states with 5 or 6 million students than the million in Missouri or the 500K in Kansas. If you've followed the news, you can hardly say that the textbooks based on the recent decisions of the Texas Board of Education are going to be 'liberal trash' - not with a self-described 'Christian fundamentalist' dentist leading the way.

overthemoon 7 years, 1 month ago

I think there is a typo in this article. "“If you are a local control state, you are at a disadvantage,” said board member Sally Cauble, R-Liberal." I'm sure she meant yokel control which would pretty much describe most of Kansas.

tolawdjk 7 years, 1 month ago

Why strive for an A when you can settle for a D?

Larry Bauerle Jr. 7 years, 1 month ago

"Why strive for an A when you can settle for a D"

Sure, let's create the same remarkable system they have in the D.C. school district. Take the time to compare our results to those of other states.
Local control has done Kansas very well, thank you.

Brian Laird 7 years, 1 month ago

As long as we have primarily statewide financing, we really don't have local control.

Brian Laird 7 years, 1 month ago

Also, if "local" control is so important, why do we have a State Board of Education?

geekyhost 7 years, 1 month ago

So they can remove evolution from the curriculum?

9070811 7 years, 1 month ago

“sends a signal to Washington that we don’t want to play their game.”

Because refusing to compete for a grant is all about sending signals to Washington to put down the man! The answer to everything... which is too general to be applied to this awesome opportunity. Anytime federal government is mentioned far right politicians practically have a hernia and an intestinal explosion. It's like their thoughts can't move past "federal government."

As for teachers becoming licensed through other means. That's not a bad idea at all. Universities should not be the only place to become an accredited teacher. Does the board not like it cause it wasn't their idea? Linking teacher's salary to student success is sure fire way to encourage teachers to perform at their best.

I'm disappointed in the whole board for voting against it. For God's sake do they not realize the pit that they're sinking in? Are they not even interested in raising standards at all?

Bridgett Walthall 7 years, 1 month ago

This state sucks. Let's not open pathways for people to become teachers, it's not like we are desperate for more teachers, right? Let's only let people who want to pay tens of thousands of dollars to universities and colleges teach. Let's make those peole rack up tens of thousands in student loans and then not pay them enough to pay those loans off. We don't need a system in place to evaluate our teachers because obviously they paid a ton of money to get edjucated, so they must be good teachers. Let's not create opportunities to leverage the thousands of experienced professionals who have been laid off due to the economy--who needs them? I'm sure they aren't interested anyway. Besides, we couldn't afford to pay them anyway. Screw it, let's just keep doing what we've always done and hope things just magically get better.

Seth Peterson 7 years, 1 month ago

I thought this was going to be an article about Kansas will never move above being 40th in the country in education. Race to the top? 50th out of 50 isn't the way to win.

BigAl 7 years, 1 month ago

I'm still waiting on the right wingers to complain about Bush's unfunded "No Child Left Behind".

Moderateguy 7 years, 1 month ago

FYI, 11 of the 16 "finalist" states voted for Obama in the last election. If the federal government is going to print money on our collective credit card, they shouldn't be able to give it out like candy to only the "good little boys and girls." Really outrageous when you think about it.

"Who runs Barter Town? Master Blaster runs Barter Town."

9070811 7 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps because they agree with someone who wants to support them and the education of youth.

Moderateguy 7 years, 1 month ago

And you don't see any problem with that? Our test scores and graduation rates are pretty impressive out of the state system. The federal government just decided to take OUR money and give it to other states because.. well... because.... umm... because..

"Bad State... BAAAD State.. No Biscuit!"

What this country needs isn't redistribution of wealth; it needs redistribution of reality.

das 7 years, 1 month ago

Why Race to the Top when it's easier to Sink to the Bottom? Kansas, and specifically the Republicans in control of our education finances, show (yet again) how to maintain the path to idiocracy.

" contrary to Kansas’ culture of local control..."

There's the overall oxymoron...Kansas and least as it concerns those pockets of local control.

Moderateguy 7 years, 1 month ago

Actually, when you look at some statistics, Kansas fares extremely well in education. Looking at ACT results by state for 2008, Kansas tested a fairly high 74% of it's students. The average composite score was 22. Other states scored a bit higher, but their testing percentages were lower. (We could have much better scores if we only had the top 5% of students take the test.)

feeble 7 years, 1 month ago

The ACT is not widely adopted outside of the Midwest. High school students in coastal states, by and large, do not take this exam. Rather, they take the SAT.

Further, there is a correlation between the % of students in a state taking a college entrance exam and the states overall ranking vs. other states. States with lower % of student participation generally have higher overall scores.

Moderateguy 7 years, 1 month ago

That's what I was saying. We have a high percentage of students taking the test and a high score. Win, Win.

Keith 7 years, 1 month ago

"Kansas drops out of `Race to the Top’ education competition"

In other news, Kansas still has a solid lead in the Race to the Bottom.

Shardwurm 7 years, 1 month ago

Teacher compensation should be tied to student achievement. Their customers (parents and students) should also have some input into their evaluations.

People always talk about needing to pay teachers more to retain the good ones or they'll go get jobs in the private sector. That's a fallacy. They wouldn't last six months in a job where they were required to produce results. Not only that, their teaching experience doesn't qualify them to find any job that would pay them the way the are as teachers. They know that. It's why they never go away. You see a lot of people retiring from teaching...but I've never run into a successful person in the private sector who said they taught for 5 years then started a new career.

Beyond that the state universities are producing thousands of teachers annually who can't find work and who would cost much less than the ones we have now.

geekyhost 7 years, 1 month ago

I know several people who taught and then left for different careers. Usually it was the BS bureaucracy that did them in. Most of the teachers I know do it because they love teaching. and they do produce results every year. Know how to read? Huh, guess a teacher produced some results.

feeble 7 years, 1 month ago

This initiative attempts to do the following?

  • Tie teacher compensation to student academic performance.
  • Establish a state wide standard for teacher evaluation.
  • Open up alternative means for teacher certification.

What is it about the above objects that conservatives object to? All of these seem to be taken straight from conservative talking points.

It seems like the only reason Kansas backed out because budget cuts are preventing us from funding any new, state-wide initiatives.

Moderateguy 7 years, 1 month ago

I don't necessarily disagree with those objectives. What I disagree with is the government using our own money as a rolled up newspaper to smack us on the nose. It's OUR money! You want to evaluate the academic performance of the state? Look up our states test scores compared to the national average.

feeble 7 years, 1 month ago

The NAEP only looks at grades 4 and 8. Kansas does better than the national average in Reading and Mathematics, but does not test Science and only sporadically tests Writing, as the latter two tests are not required,

ConcernedCynic 7 years, 1 month ago

sad_lawrencian - very funny comment.

Board member David Dennis, a Republican from Wichita, said the refusal to compete for the grant “sends a signal to Washington that we don’t want to play their game.”

Paul R Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

Feeble: "What is it about the above objects that conservatives object to? All of these seem to be taken straight from conservative talking points." === You are not familiar with cognitive dissonance, are you? Trying to find a logical theme in some of the SBOE discussions will give you a headache.

terrace 7 years, 1 month ago

you are only showing Washington how silly the sttate of Kansas is on education issues. you are also showing that the State Board of Education is in bed with the Kansas NEA; that the state board of education does not believe that on PUBLIC dollars teachers can have jobs for life, that the State board of Education will continue to support PUBLIC funding going to inadequate teacher preparation programs; the list goes on and on. the assessment system that you all approved and funded CANNOT even tell you what teachers are effective. SHAME ON YOU KANSAS BOARD OF EDUCATION> You were already national laughing stocks given the creationism debacle> Now the quotes in the article make you all seem more ridiculous and also illustrate how poor Kansas's education system really is!

tomatogrower 7 years, 1 month ago

How can Kansas Republicans destroy public education if they get this money. I mean Koch Industries is ready to step in and privatize education and make a profit from the state.

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