Kansas Education Leaders Back Creating Coordinating Council

TOPEKA Kan.

State education officials are giving their support to creation of a council to coordinate the teaching of Kansas students from preschool to college and technical and career training.

Endorsement of a new 16-member council was agreed to Tuesday during a joint meeting of the State Board of Education and Board of Regents. Both boards were expected to discuss the proposal during their regular meetings and formally adopt the concept.

“This has some great potential to create something positive for the kids of Kansas,” said Kansas Board of Regents Chairwoman Christine Downey-Schmidt.

As outlined, the 16-member council would be established by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Its purpose would be to align all Kansas education levels to make sure students are prepared for the workplace.

The creation of such a council would come as policymakers work to meet the federal requirements of the No Child Left Behind laws.

That law requires that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014. It also requires states to put highly qualified teachers in each classroom and take steps to get students ready to learn by the time they start kindergarten.

Education Board Chairman Bill Wagnon, of Topeka, said the proposal made sense to him.

“We have a common interest, it seems to me, in a lot of areas,” Wagnon said.

Sebelius’ office said the governor “is happy this council is being seriously considered in Kansas as it will benefit students today and our economy tomorrow.” Sebelius had asked officials last year to look into the possibility of setting up a council.

The Board of Education sets education policy for the state’s 296 school districts, while the regents govern Kansas’ six public universities, and supervises and coordinates 19 community colleges, five technical colleges, six technical schools and Washburn University in Topeka.

In addition, there are numerous legislative and gubernatorial committees and advisory panels that review specific topics in education, such as technical education, early childhood and autism. Many of the panels have been outgrowths of recent Kansas court cases and subsequent legislative action that increased school funding by more than $800 million.

Kansas spends nearly two-thirds of its state budget on education, with aid to public school districts representing the bulk of the funding.

Under the proposal, the council’s members would include the governor, key education committee legislators, and representatives of the regents, education board, businesses, local school boards, independent colleges and early childhood education.

The idea was proposed by Education Commissioner Alexa Posny and regents President Reggie Robinson. Similar councils exist in 30 states.

On the Net:

Kansas Department of Education: http://www.ksde.org

Board of Regents: http://www.kansasregents.org

Information from: Lawrence Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com



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