First Bell

Committees act on local elections; discuss teacher licensing

Peter Hancock

Topeka - A Senate committee today advanced a bill that would change the election cycle so that school board, city government and other municipal elections would be held in November of even-numbered years so they would coincide with state and federal elections. But the panel agreed not to include a ...

Court ruling may be political success, but educational failure

Peter Hancock

The Kansas Supreme Court accomplished one remarkable thing with its [school finance ruling][1] last week. It threaded the needle so carefully that nearly everyone — at least in the political arena — walked away feeling like they'd won a little something. That's not bad, considering that before the decision nearly ...

Poll shows most Kansans want court to order more school funding; Davis has slight lead over Brownback; Roberts faces challenge

Peter Hancock

A new poll out today shows that by a wide margin, most Kansans believe public schools are underfunded and want the Kansas Supreme Court to step in by ordering more funding. [The survey][1] by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm based in North Carolina, found 59 percent of those responding ...

NEA president's letter on Common Core sparks discussion

Peter Hancock

Critics of the Common Core standards for reading and math probably think they got a boost this week when the head of the nation's largest teachers union called for a "course correction" on how they are being implemented. In a [statement posted online][1] Wednesday, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel wrote: ...

Anyone can read the Common Core standards; here they are

Peter Hancock

State Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, who is leading an effort to nullify the Common Core state standards for reading and math, is now denying he ever told the Journal-World that [he hasn't read them][1]. At least that's what the Wichita Eagle is reporting in [a story posted on that ...

Education panels to discuss data privacy, sex education, Common Core, charter schools

Peter Hancock

The Kansas House and Senate Education Committees will be busy this week discussing data privacy, sex education, the Common Core standards and charter schools. Concerns about data gathering and student privacy have been part of the [conservative backlash][1] against the Common Core standards, with many groups [claiming falsely][2] that the ...

Instructions for online practice exams; anti-Common Core bill

Peter Hancock

As we reported this week, Kansas University's [Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation][1] recently unveiled online practice versions of the new state reading and math assessments that students will take this spring. But if anyone followed the hyperlink in the story we published, they may have had trouble finding the ...

Lawrence board opposes changing election cycles

Peter Hancock

Lawrence school board members indicated Monday night they plan to submit a joint written statement to a legislative committee opposing a bill that would change the election cycle for municipal elections. Board member Shannon Kimball testified against [House Bill 2227][1] Monday during a hearing before the House Elections Committee. It ...

New food policy could affect school fundraisers

Peter Hancock

The Lawrence school board is considering a new policy that could cut into some fundraising activities like bake sales and pizza parties. The policy would prohibit the sale of "competitive foods" — defined as any food or beverage service available to students that is separate and apart from the district’s ...

In pre-State of the State remarks, Brownback sought common ground with school superintendents

Peter Hancock

TOPEKA - A few hours before his State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Sam Brownback addressed a gathering of school superintendents in an effort to find some kind of common ground, or at least mutual respect. At the same time, though, he acknowledged that he has a different view ...

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