July 2012 Superintendent Message
During World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill mentioned “For myself, I am an optimist…it does not seem to be much use being anything else.” Although his quotation was taken during wartime, it also relates to the current conditions of education within the state of Kansas. Although Kansas public education has lost over half a billion dollars since 2008 , which is 11% of KS school districts’ operating budgets, there has been a small amount of good news for Kansas children over the summer months. In this month’s message to the public, I will describe some of the small positive steps that the state has accomplished in order to create hope within the hard-pressed educational network of schools in the state for the benefit our students.
The first positive bit of news deals with the governor’s focus on early literacy skills with his “Read Kansas Read” summer reading program. The statewide program is encouraging children to read over the summer months in an effort to maintain literacy skills gained during the school year. Not only has there been public service announcements on television from various Kansas leaders and sports icons, but the individuals in the commercials have challenged children to “read more books” than the sports icons during the summer. The website for “Read Kansas Read” at www.readkansasread.ks.gov not only allows students and their parents the ability to find books within their reading ability, but in their particular interest-area as well. In addition, the free website allows parents the ability to find the books that they want through the Kansas library system, or they may purchase the books through an outside vendor.
The second positive bit of good news from Topeka deals with the state legislature’s boost toward Kansas’ Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs in the state. Although this legislation does not help the severe cuts that have been inflicted on K-12 education, it does provide free tuition for Kansas high school students who enroll in CTE courses at community or technical colleges throughout the state. By starting the process of earning industry-recognized credentials in high school, the students should gain a “leg-up” in an otherwise crowded job market when they are finished with K-12 education.
The last bit of positive news this summer has to deal the Kansas State Board of Education’s stance on increasing Kansas public education funding in the state. During July, the Kansas State Board of Education voted to stand united behind the children of Kansas by saying that $450 Million needs to be added to Kansas schools for the benefit of the children. This money is to replace the loss of funding dating back to 2008. From this statement, the Kansas State Board of Education hopes to influence lawmakers in Topeka so that they put more money into education in order to fill these gaps.
During the summer months, there has been some positive news from Topeka regarding the education of our children. It is my hope and prayer that these small positive steps will eventually have a large impact on the children of our state in the coming years. From my perspective, I am compelled to take Churchill’s advice: “For myself, I am an optimist…it does not seem to be much use being anything else.”