Archive for Friday, October 20, 2017

Editorial: School overhaul is the right call

An ambitious new model for K-12 education is risky, but it’s also the right thing to do for Kansas students.

October 20, 2017


The state of Kansas’ ambitious project to overhaul public education is fraught with risks and no doubt will face ample criticism.

But it absolutely is the right thing to do.

On Wednesday, state Board of Education members were given a briefing on the new initiative, called Kansans Can. The goal is to overhaul the way education is delivered in the state over the next 10 years. The project got underway this fall with pilot programs at seven school districts — Wellington, Olathe, Coffeyville, Twin Valley, Liberal, McPherson and Stockton. The district’s are being called the Mercury Seven.

“We have likened this to when (President John F.) Kennedy issued a challenge to land a man on the moon,” State Education Commissioner Randy Watson said. “We have a 10-year journey... It’s a serious journey. We’re trying by 2026 to totally redesign K-12 education for all 286 school districts.”

The overhaul was born out of a statewide listening tour that Kansas Board of Education officials undertook in 2015, meeting with community leaders, business leaders and parents in dozens of communities. What they heard was a revelation. While academic achievement was emphasized, Kansans also stressed that they want their schools to teach character development, citizenship and work ethic.

They want Kansas schools to better prepare students for the state’s emerging workforce needs. And they want schools to provide more individualized education, focusing on the needs of each student rather than forcing children to adjust to an education system that is, for the most part, still operating on a system designed more than a century ago.

Systems that could go by the wayside include the traditional K-12 grade structure, which is predicated on a student’s age and the school system’s structure rather than the student’s skills, interests and abilities. The schools chosen for the pilot project had to commit to overhauling an elementary school, middle school and high school to create a system in which a child could proceed from kindergarten through graduation in a more individualized environment.

“I would speculate that if you walked into one of (the pilot) districts, you’re not going to see a traditional setting,” said Brad Neuenswander, the deputy commissioner in charge of learning services. “I think you’re going to walk in there and maybe see a group of kids not based on age, but based on experience and where they’re at. You may see 30 kids in a room with three adults supporting that. The whole structure of it, it’s hard to define.”

The challenge for those pushing the project will be persevering. Change is never easy, especially within a system as complex as the state’s public schools. There are many constituencies — start with students, teachers and parents — whose opposition could derail such an ambitious project.

But ultimately, Kansans owe the state’s children an education system that is tailored to their needs and both challenges and engages them. The current system falls short of that goal. Here’s hoping Kansans Can will reach it.


Richard Heckler 8 months ago

BEWARE THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS after all these are right wingers who will adjust facts to suit themselves.

I once heard on an Indiana talk show with the Cheney's that suggested American History should begin with Reagan/Bush.

These right wingers do not believe in science.

USD 497 and their Blended Learning approach is right on the money,

Richard Heckler 8 months ago

No matter what public school funding needs to reimbursed and brought up to the proper level.

Reckless conservative tax cuts stink!!!

Richard Heckler 8 months ago

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Bryan Bowen 8 months ago

This whole thing sounds like it was concocted by the Brady Kids so everyone could have a sunshiny day. It's a time bomb that will shred everyone in its path with shrapnel made of spoiled kids who become angry and depressed when their jobs tell them they have to do things other than what their interests are. This proposal will do nothing to teach character development, citizenship and work ethic--and it may end up doing the opposite. Plus the teaching of those traits should be done at home. When the fall out from this happens everyone will look to place blame and a lot of them will place it on the wrong people. The blame will belong with the woodstock generation ("there's bad acid going around! Don't eat the blue acid, it's bad!") And yes, that was actually said by someone at woodstock it's in the movie. The ideas, attitudes and philosophies they held have spawned this dionysian culture that we've all had to contend with for 50 years now. It needs to stop, and although history should be taught from further back, some Reagan/Bush ideals might be a good thing.

Bob Summers 8 months ago

This is what happens to an "education system" run by people with the Liberal condition.

They get the most money in the world and turn out kids with no family values, have shoot outs in the streets and cannot break the worldwide top twenty in math, reading, and science proficiencies.

Overhaul? Seriously?

Richard Heckler 8 months ago

Do you have hard evidence?

What the ALEC Brownback conservatives have demonstrated is that removing 1000's of experienced workers at the state level does not pay back, creates a back log administratively due to inexperienced staff and not enough staff and has a negative impact on the state economy and tax dollar revenue.

What the ALEC Brownback conservatives have demonstrated is that removing millions of dollars from the public education budget has not paid back in any form, creates larger student populations in each classroom and puts too many teachers out of work which again is hard on any state economy.

Big Government is not measured by the number of employees but rather by the size of government intrusion into our private lives such as:

--- War against Medical Insurance and Single Payer

--- War on public education and Higher Education

--- War against women

--- War on Voters Rights

--- War on strict gun regulations

--- War On National Monuments/Parks

--- War on the USA Postal Service

--- War On Environmental Cleanliness

--- War On Good Wages aka Right To Work Legislation

--- War On USA Jobs aka Free Trade Agreements and Leveraged Buyout Scams

--- War On Social Security Insurance

--- War On Medicaid

--- War On Medicare

--- War for Oil Control Worldwide

--- War on truth about global warming/climate change

Union of Concerned Scientists

--- Corporate Welfare Profiteering

--- Bill Moyers on the Secretive Corporate-Legislative Body Writing Our Laws

--- Pay close attention to this 24/7 organized activity:

--- How the Koch brothers helped dismantle the Democratic Party

Richard Heckler 8 months ago

In general it seems to me this school over haul presentation is a diversion tactic to pull taxpayers attention away from the fact that this very conservative administration is stonewalling rather than to obey a courts order to reinstate public education funding to a previous level.

These conservatives are professionals at diversion perhaps because they are successful at diversion BUT ARE NEITHER SUCCESSFUL NOR PROFESSIONALS at obeying the law.

THE FIRST STEP should be obeying a court order.

MerriAnnie Smith 8 months ago

I've always loved change and new things.

But I've been around conservatives too long in Kansas not to be completely aware that they will tell you things that will make butter melt in your mouth, and in reality, it won't resemble anything they said. Alls you'll get is more money for the wealthy and less for the rest of the citizens. Schools, if public, will lose.

My first thought upon hearing about this was, which Koch funded organization came up with this idea?

Admittedly, and with good reason, if Democrats are behind it, I would not be nearly as doubtful about it.

Blake Wilson 8 months ago

One teacher to every ten students would make the current system work. I am highly skeptical that this part will stick if it's indeed ever implemented. My guess is that the tiny bit where they say "students' . . . interests" is a means of selling this to a group of the Kansas population who don't want their kids learning about evolution and social issues. Also, another red flag, is the diversity, or rather "lack of", of these schools.

Blake Wilson 8 months ago

The training, increased number of teachers, and administrative support required to make this happen would make the current system work. No need to overhaul. Also which of these schools is currently struggling? Assuming this is supported past implementation (I'm hard pressed to see Kansas paying teachers for the ratios they are stating when we are actually in the middle of a teacher shortage), how will you measure success? I am very skeptical that the is nothing more than a means to get evolution and social issues out of the curriculum of those students whose parents don't want them to learn it. But if you'd really like to sell me on this, do it in a struggling district with a more diverse student body and show me it works.

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