The Kansas State Board of Education will be asked Tuesday to review a code of conduct for teachers and administrators, but it remains unclear exactly how that code would be used.
Scott Myers, director of teacher education and licensure for the Department of Education, said the code is intended to be “aspirational,” and would not have the force or effect of regulation.
“It describes what is the expectation for professional conduct,” Myers said.
The three-page document spells out the responsibilities that professional educators have to their students, their district and the profession. It also gives examples in each category of things that do or don't qualify as ethical conduct.
Several other states have adopted similar codes, either by statute or regulation. Various professional organizations, including the National Education Association and the American Association of Educators, also have ethics codes.
Draft Educator Code of Conduct ( .PDF )
Karen Godfrey, president of the Kansas NEA, the state's largest teachers union, said her organization supports the idea, as long as it's used only for educational or training purposes. But she said the union would have concerns if the agency were to use it as an enforceable document because many of the suggestions are open to broad interpretation.
For example, she said, one item says educators should refrain from “accepting gifts or favors or offering gratuities that impair professional judgement or to obtain special advantage.”
“So if a student gives me a brownie, does that impair my judgement about him or her?” she asked.
The state board is scheduled to discuss the proposed code but is not expected to take formal action.
Also Tuesday the state board will discuss options for the next fiscal year budget, which begins July 1, 2014.
The Kansas Legislature this year adopted a two-year budget that makes appropriations for both the current and next fiscal year. That budget calls for raising the base per pupil aid formula by $14 next year, to $3,852.
That's still far short of the $4,492 that current law says the state is supposed to be spending. Raising the formula to that amount would cost an additional $433 million, according to budget estimates.
In January, a three-judge panel that presided over a school funding lawsuit ordered the state to increase spending at least to that amount. But that lawsuit is currently on appeal at the Kansas Supreme Court.
Oral arguments in that case are set for Oct. 9, and a decision is expected by early January, around the time the Legislature convenes.
In other business, the state board will:
• Hear a report about the licensure review process that is used in appeals by people who are denied teaching licenses because they do not meet requirements set out in regulations.
• Receive an update on progress toward shifting to new assessments in reading and math that will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
• Receive an update on the Kansas Learning Network.
• And act on appointments to the Special Education Advisory Council.