Archive for Wednesday, March 19, 2014

School funding fix may get linked to teacher licensing, other policy changes

March 19, 2014, 1:25 p.m. Updated March 19, 2014, 4:32 p.m.


— The Senate budget committee plans to craft a bill that would tie additional funding ordered by the Kansas Supreme Court to other education policy issues, including loosening standards for teacher licensing.

Senate Ways and Means Committee chairman Ty Masterson, R-Andover, said today that he hopes to pass one “education budget” that would bundle funding for public schools, an alternative licensing bill and possibly other education issues in a single bill.

“I think it's better to attach any policy you do with funding for that area of government,” Masterson said. “I do intend on building an education budget that has policy pieces in it.”

The Supreme Court ruled March 7 that the state needs to provide more funding to poor districts to subsidize their local option budgets and capital outlay budgets. The Legislature cut funding in those areas when the Great Recession hit in 2009, creating what the Court said were unconstitutional inequities among rich and poor districts.

Restoring full funding in those areas would cost about $130 million, according to state education officials, but the Court did not give an exact dollar amount for what it would take to cure the inequities.

The alternative licensing bill has divided the education community. Lobbying groups representing school boards and school administrators testified in favor of it during a hearing in Masterson's committee last week. But the Kansas National Education Association, the teachers' union, opposed it, and some members of the Kansas State Board of Education have said they, too, have reservations.

The bill would allow people to teach without earning an education degree if they already have a bachelor's degree in science, technology, engineering or math – the so-called STEM fields –or industry recognized certificates in a technical profession, as long as they have five years of related work experience and a commitment from a school board that wants to hire them.

It would also exempt teachers with out-of-state licenses who pass the professional entrance exams, known as Praxis tests, for their field.

“There is interest in that policy,” Masterson said. “So I intend to build a bill that includes both policy and appropriation, and so we'll consider what policy we want.”

State board of education member Deena Horst, R-Salina, said today she has reservations because the state board already allows alternative pathways to get a teacher's license. She said the priority should be to ensure teachers are both knowledgeable about their subject area and trained in the practice of teaching.

The state board has been considering making its own changes to licensing requirements for career and technical education, special education and out-of-state teachers. The board is expected to receive formal recommendations for those changes in April, but it is not yet known how similar those may be to the Senate proposal.

Lawrence Superintendent Rick Doll said today he supports the proposed legislative changes because they would put local districts, rather than the State Department of Education, in charge of approving the additional training that prospective teachers would need. Currently, he said, people moving from technical industries into teaching must also enroll in a four-year training program approved by the state while they are teaching.

Doll said the Lawrence district has had difficulty in the past recruiting qualified teachers for some of its technical education programs, especially in areas such as auto mechanics and welding. And starting in the 2015-2016 school year, the district will need more of those teachers when it opens its new College and Career Center.

Masterson said linking the funding to policy issues such as licensing could help win the support of some conservatives who otherwise might not be willing to approve additional school spending.

“If you're a conservative person who doesn't want to add the money we're talking about, it's kind of like value shopping,” he said. “If I'm going to spend this much money, I want to know what I'm going to get for my dollars.”

In addition to the licensing bill, there are several other education policy bills pending in the Legislature of interest to conservatives, including one that would greatly expand charter schools and others that would block implementation of new standards for English, math and science.

Normally, the Legislature passes a single, “omnibus” budget that includes funding for all state agencies. But last year it passed a two-year budget, which means the budget for next year is already in place. That gives lawmakers more flexibility this year to pass budget revisions for individual agencies.

Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said that panel will start working Thursday on a bill to address the issues raised in the Gannon case.

“The entire legislature, House and Senate, is seeking to satisfy the Gannon issues,” Rhoades said in an email. “At the same time, as Sen. Masterson has said, there are policy issues which could be addressed as well, especially relating to issues of adequacy and outcomes.”


Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

MerriAnnie Smith 4 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for that link, Richard.

I, too, wonder how all this is passing under the radar of the news medias. Why isn't Fox, for instance, talking about this?

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

On one hand, we do need more math and science teachers. On the other, the legislation as proposed seems like another "oh anyone can teach" type of thing. It's simply not true. If you want a real alternate pathway, you should combine subject matter expertise with at least minimal courses in pedagogy.

MerriAnnie Smith 4 years, 3 months ago

Anyone who is aware that the goal of the right (Koch funded initiatives) is to destroy public schools so that we are left with only one alternative: For Profit Schools

If they are forced to pay for the schools, then the Koch's next tactic is to create bills through ALEC that will damage public schools even further, until the citizens will be begging for a huge corporation to step in and buy our schools. Then their profit is the bottom line. Those who can afford a good education will go to schools where it costs more and they'll get a better education. Those who can't afford the best, will send their kids to any school they can afford, and these rules for lowering the standards that they're putting into place now will be even looser then.

We're not far from this scenario. It is happening and our news media is not alerting us to what is happening in places like Philadelphia.

Charles Fogarty 4 years, 3 months ago

Loosening the standards for granting credentials to teachers is the worst possible thing to re-invigorate education in Kansas. How very sad that the state that prepared me so well in the 1950s and 1960s has sunk to being the butt of late night comedians. The Republican Party and its fundamentalist Christian base do not want thinking people.

MerriAnnie Smith 4 years, 3 months ago

This is what happens when the voters think it's a great idea to have a far right governor working with a far right legislature.

If we can get out the voters in November we can make a difference. The problem, as always, is getting voters to pay attention to what is happening.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Parents United for Public Schools

Public schools,” ALEC wrote in its 1985 Education Source Book, “meet all of the needs of all of the people without pleasing anyone.” A better system, the organization argued, would “foster educational freedom and quality” through various forms of privatization: vouchers, tax incentives for sending children to private schools and unregulated private charter schools.

Today ALEC calls this “choice”—and vouchers “scholarships”—but it amounts to an ideological mission to defund and redesign public schools.

The first large-scale voucher program, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, was enacted in 1990 following the rubric ALEC provided in 1985. It was championed by then-Governor Tommy Thompson, an early ALEC member, who once said he “loved” ALEC meetings, “because I always found new ideas, and then I’d take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare [they were] mine.”

ALEC’s most ambitious and strategic push toward privatizing education came in 2007, through a publication called School Choice and State Constitutions, which proposed a list of programs tailored to each state. That year Georgia passed a version of ALEC’s Special Needs Scholarship Program Act.

Most disability organizations strongly oppose special education vouchers—and decades of evidence suggest that such students are better off receiving additional support in public schools.

Nonetheless, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Florida, Utah and Indiana have passed versions of their own. Louisiana also passed a version of ALEC’s Parental Choice Scholarship Program Act (renaming it Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence), along with ALEC’s Family Education Tax Credit Program (renamed Tax Deductions for Tuition), which has also been passed by Arizona and Indiana. ALEC’s so-called Great Schools Tax Credit Program Act has been passed by Arizona, Indiana and Oklahoma.

ALEC’s 2010 Report Card on American Education called on members and allies to “Transform the system, don’t tweak it,” likening the group’s current legislative strategy to a game of whack-a-mole: introduce so many pieces of model legislation that there is “no way the person with the mallet [teachers’ unions] can get them all.” ALEC’s agenda includes:

More important facts:

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

This action is Sam Brownback style stonewalling.

Does the court action support stonewalling? I'm saying the governor and all legislators signed on to this stonewalling should be brought to justice by way of a court injunction for perhaps at some point being in contempt of court.

Why does Sam Brownback enjoy breaking laws?

Larry Sturm 4 years, 3 months ago

The Kansas legislature can pass all kinds frivolous laws taking peoples rights away and now they cannot fund schools taking away our children's basic rights.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

How can this licensing be in anyway tied to school funding? The funding must move forward no matter what.

This licensing maneuver is apparently tied to the move toward the privatization of public school industry. To make it easier to set up shop without required credentials. Otherwise there is absolutely no point in this nonsense legislation.

Is this maneuver simply being laid out to stonewall funding of public education? If so this is definitely negligence.

Kansas cannot afford ALEC government officials. They are reckless beyond belief.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

PETITION STATEMENT Another attempt to silence teachers. House Bill 2085 would dramatically limit bargaining, strip teachers of a voice in evaluation procedures, and prohibit exclusivity- in other words teachers would not be permitted to choose a bargaining agent.

Petition Background The anti-teacher forces in the Kansas House of Representatives released a bill that effectively dismantles collective bargaining for teachers.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.