It's exciting to be back in Lawrence. I'll be taking over the education beat from Alex Garrison, who is moving on to bigger and better things.
A lot of things have changed at the Journal-World since I was last here in 1999 covering City Hall. The biggest change is this new facility, the News Center, which is much more conveniently located near three - count 'em, three - coffee shops!
For the last couple of years I published an online news service called the Kansas Education Policy report, focusing on state education issues at the legislature, State Board of Education and Board of Regents. I also covered the trial phase of the pending school finance lawsuit, Gannon vs. Kansas. We're all anxiously awaiting the decision in that case, which should come later this fall.
Before that, I was the statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio where I spent nine legislative sessions covering state government and politics.
But it's great to be back covering a local district where you can see how the abstract legal and policy issues filter down and affect students, parents and local taxpayers.
Big changes are in store for local schools over the next couple of years. The new Common Core Standards for reading and math will soon take effect. Lawrence school officials are already making plans for that. Next in line will be the new Next Generation Science Standards which will fundamentally change the way students learn about science.
Meanwhile, Lawrence officials are making big plans for a bond election to fund building renovations and, possibly, a massive upgrade in computer and communications technology.
All of these are important in determining what students learn, how they learn it and, ultimately, how prepared they will be to enter college and the workforce in the 21st century.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on twitter: @pqhancock.