Fall 2011 Highlights:
Board of Education’s Teacher Standards Don’t Make The Grade
The Legislative Education Planning Committee (LEPC) met in September 2011 and heard a presentation from the State Commissioner of Education, Diane DeBacker about her office’s new teacher evaluation standards. Her department’s teacher evaluation methodology contains 174 pages of material that misses the biggest point – connecting teacher evaluation to student performance. If we’re going to improve student learning outcomes we need to demand accountability from the schools and require that teachers and administrators be evaluated on student achievement and competency in their subject content.
Learn How Florida & Indiana Turned The Bus Around
Legislators and a few district officials heard a comprehensive presentation on school reform from two state leaders that have successfully reformed education in their states: Florida and Indiana. The presentations were part of a forum hosted by the Kansas Policy Institute. The presentations are available here:
It’s Time Schools Used Their Carryover Cash
Kansas school districts are carrying more than $868 million in unused, unencumbered cash, a number that keeps growing (up $85.7 million in2010 alone, and up $410 million since 2005). This does not include funds held in reserve specifically for capital expenses or debt service; that brings the total to more than $1.6 billion.
Kansas lawmakers gave public school districts expanded authority this year spend down unencumbered cash balances many of them hold in various special accounts, and to use that money for general operating expenses.
But Kansas Department of Education officials told legislators in
September 2011 that districts are using only a small portion – just 4% – of that money to shore up their FY 2012 budget.
Yet most districts said funding shortfalls forced them to cut teachers and programs. That’s hard to believe with $868 million sitting unused. It’s time the teachers and taxpayers knew this, and demand that schools use it to provide kids with a quality education, or return the money to taxpayers.