First Bell

The good news about high school graduation rates, in two maps

Peter Hancock

This week, the Lawrence school board and the Kansas State Board of Education will discuss graduation rates and other statistics that are indicators about how well schools are performing. There are troubling signs in those numbers, especially those that point to wide disparities between racial and economic classes. But here's ...

No new faces on House panel to push for charter schools

Peter Hancock

Education lobbyists at the Kansas Statehouse were surprised to hear Monday that there will be no changes in the makeup of the House Education Committee, where a bill to greatly expand the state's charter school law [failed last year][1] by a single vote. Republican House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, announced ...

Top three ways Supreme Court could avoid school finance showdown

Peter Hancock

One week out from the start of the legislative session, and everyone is still waiting with bated breath for the Kansas Supreme Court to rule in the school finance case. Which leaves pundits and gadflies little else to do for the time being than to sit around and speculate about ...

KPI admits to faulty poll question

Peter Hancock

Last week we ran a [story about a poll][1] on school finance issues conducted by the conservative think tank [Kansas Policy Institute][2], including reaction from education advocates who said the questions were loaded with false or misleading information that appeared aimed at eliciting a negative response. At the time, KPI ...

Kansas 42nd in teacher pay

Peter Hancock

The average teacher in Kansas made a salary of $47,464 during the 2012-2013 school year, far less than the national average, and less than their counterparts in almost any other state. That's according to the latest [estimates from the National Center for Educational Statistics][1], which ranked Kansas 42nd among the ...

Only three apply for 'innovative district' status

Peter Hancock

A new Kansas law that allows school districts to exempt themselves from most state regulations is attracting little interest so far, according to state officials. According to Gov. Sam Brownback's office, only three districts have filed applications under the [Coalition of Innovative Districts Act][1], a measure that, among other things, ...

Ohio teacher's firing may be a cautionary tale for Kansas

Peter Hancock

The [Ohio Supreme Court][1] ruled this week in favor of a school district that fired an eighth grade science teacher for injecting too much religion into his classrooms, thus bringing to an end a long, drawn-out legal battle that appeared to contain every element of the culture wars surrounding public ...

Maybe you can write a novel in 30 days, but should you?

Peter Hancock

One of the legends of modern American fiction is that of Jack Kerouac and the writing of his great novel, “On the Road.” According to the legend, Kerouac loaded his Underwood typewriter one day in 1951 with a long scroll of teletype paper and, [over the course of three weeks][1] ...

Brownback fires back at New York Times

Peter Hancock

Journal-World readers may have noticed a letter to the editor today [by Gov. Sam Brownback][1], firing back at the New York Times for an editorial they ran Oct. 13 criticizing his record on education funding. Brownback's office sent it to Kansas newspapers because, officials said, the Times declined to publish ...

Schmidt asked to defend state board in science lawsuit

Peter Hancock

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is being asked to defend the State Board of Education in a lawsuit that challenges the Next Generation Science Standards that were [adopted in June][1]. The board met in executive session for about 30 minutes Tuesday and again for 15 minutes Wednesday to discuss legal ...

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