Archive for Monday, March 21, 2011


Throwing out the State Board of Education and the Kansas Board of Regents isn’t the best way to improve education coordination in the state.

March 21, 2011


If some state legislators are concerned about a lack of coordination between K-12 schools and higher education in Kansas, they should look at that problem but resist throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Last week, House Speaker Mike O’Neal announced his intention to pursue a constitutional amendment that would abolish the Kansas Board of Regents and the Kansas State School Board and replace them with a single cabinet-level secretary of education who would be appointed by the governor. His main justification for the move was to improve coordination for students from kindergarten through their post-secondary education.

Coordination of those efforts certainly is desirable, but having an appointed secretary of education isn’t guaranteed to improve that situation and would open the door to many undesirable political influences in the state’s education system. The State Board of Education went through a difficult time fairly recently when it became highly politicized and experienced a number of philosophical swings. Think how many more swings might occur if every time a new governor is elected, he or she appoints a single cabinet member with broad authority to set the agenda, curriculum and policies for schools from pre-K to college.

Both the State Board of Education and the Board of Regents are specifically designed to include members from from all parts of the state. State school board members are directly elected by staggered terms by Kansas voters; the regents are appointed to staggered terms and the board often includes members appointed by more than one governor. The system minimizes the political influence of any one group or governor.

It may not be a perfect system, but it provides some key representation for Kansas residents that could be lost under an appointed secretary of education. Whether by appointment or popular election, the best way to ensure education excellence is to have Board of Regents and state school board members with the courage, wisdom and knowledge needed to make powerful decisions on behalf of Kansas students.

O’Neal said he didn’t plan to push for action on the proposed amendment until the next legislative session. Perhaps by then, some less drastic ways can be found to address the Speaker’s concerns about education coordination.


Orwell 7 years, 1 month ago

"Less drastic ways" would include having pro-education elected officials.

grimpeur 7 years, 1 month ago

Subhead: "Throwing out the State Board of Education and the Kansas Board of Regents isn’t the best way to improve education coordination in the state."

O'Neal and Brownback don't care about improving education (or ed coordination) in the state. Let's be clear.

Also, this is a weak way of saying it's a horrible idea based purely in anti-intellectual partisanship.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

Gimpuer: Correctamundo, Bubba! This has nothing to do with 'education' and everything to do with power. The voters put people on the state board and that's the way the system works. When the voters realize they have made a mistake, they correct it, Ms. Morris' demise being one example. A SBOE and a KBOE filled the current governor's best friends and biggest contributors is what they want, in other words, total control of the funding, curriculum and politics of education. The 'gov's buddies' would likely not even be Kansans, but the ideologically 'pure' imported form other states, just like some of Muscular Sam's current cabinet officials who are going over oh so well with the legislature. Even the Republicans are laughing some of these guys out of the committee rooms.

George_Braziller 7 years, 1 month ago

Don't forget about Bob Corkins. He and Morris were both idiots and were booted out in short order. I shudder at the thought of people of their ilk being appointed.

notajayhawk 7 years, 1 month ago

"The voters put people on the state board and that's the way the system works. When the voters realize they have made a mistake, they correct it,"

The voters also elect the governor, who would be appointing the SecEd, and the legislators who are considering this change. How come that doesn't count as the will of the people, Paul? Because it isn't the way YOU want it to be?

You're absolutely correct about the second half of that statement, though: We have now corrected our mistake, and have a Republican governor.

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

Kansas deserves this nonsense. After all, the folks in this state were the fools who voted Brownback into office. Now let them live with it.

seriouscat 7 years, 1 month ago

I foresee more growth in the homeschooling sector.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

seriouscat (anonymous) says… "I foresee more growth in the homeschooling sector." SC: Also a good observation. Senator Vratil bravely spoke a while back about the little secret that shall not be spoken in public: Some of the R's don't want to have public schools at all. This subset of the party wants to send money to home schoolers and create private school/religious school vouchers as an alternative to the current system. We need to watch for this as the legislative sessions roll by.

throwdown_wallet 7 years, 1 month ago

I thought he was just elected governor...not king.

Cogito_Ergo_Es 7 years ago

Our children's futures resting in one man's hands? Too much power! By the way, we didn't all vote for him...

jhawkinsf 7 years ago

I'm not going to play the blame game. Our educational system is broken and has been for many years. It is broken for Republicans and Democrats alike. We have a bureaucracy that includes a Federal Dept. of Education, 50 State Depts. of Ed., Regents, Boards of Ed., etc. I can't even begin to imagine how much money is lost servicing that bureaucracy, money that could be spent on actual education.
Maybe this proposal is a good one, maybe not. But if the intent is to reduce the size of the bureaucracy, and put the savings into actual learning, I say let's try it. If it's intent is to save money and not put it back into education, then I think you're being penny wise and pound foolish.

jafs 7 years ago

Which do you think it is, and will be?

My vote is on the latter - they won't put the money back into education, any more than they would have had the KNI funding follow those folks once it was closed.

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