Pat Roberts speaks on topics in the news
• Haskell Indian Nations University: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has not yet reported back — mainly due to the focus on the BP oil spill — to the Kansas congressional delegation after Roberts asked the department to look into reports of canceled degree-accreditation visits, leadership ambiguity and other issues.
“(Salazar) assures me that they want to make Haskell the key institution for the all-nation American Indian schools. Where it is today, I cannot tell you, but they are going to give us a summary and give us a plan of action.”
• KU Athletics and Athletics Director Lew Perkins: Roberts — a Kansas State University graduate — said he got into trouble Wednesday when he made a crack about being late to an event because he tried to exercise with Perkins, but “there was yellow tape around the equipment.”
“Sometimes you open mouth and insert foot. But this is a real challenge for KU, and I’m very confident in the first place the chancellor and everybody here at KU will fix things in the proper way.”
As he met with Kansas University researchers and area educators Thursday morning, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., heard statistics that 70 percent of U.S. middle and high school students are not reading at a proficient level.
He listened intently and shared stories about his days teaching in Arizona, reflecting on how students learn reading and writing skills, particularly once they reach secondary schools.
“It’s terribly important because if they drop out of school, all sorts of problems occur,” Roberts said.
Roberts was part of a roundtable discussion to learn more about KU literacy programs at work in area schools. The session was a follow-up to last month’s Senate committee testimony of Don Deshler, a special education professor and director of the KU Center for Research on Learning.
“Here’s a proven research project that if school districts will use it, you can raise the ratio of students who will stay in school at these critical times in their lives,” Roberts said. “If we can do that, we’re really making a difference, and KU is a leader in that field.”
During the session Roberts heard about methods to help teach reading and writing in the classroom, including a literacy program in the Kansas City, Kan., school district.
Deshler told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee on May 4 that there’s a misconception it can be too late to help students who have difficulty reading once they reach middle school. Congress is considering reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Roberts said he wanted to schedule a follow up visit to see some of the literacy programs in action in Kansas classrooms.
“He does have experience in the classroom, and he was able to understand the work that we were doing,” said Mike Hock, associate director for the KU Center for Research on Learning. “He had some really insightful questions about our work and the response of students.”
KU officials also voiced concerns to Roberts about how the U.S. Department of Education reviews certain grant applications.