Kathy Toelkes, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
Highlights of the January State Board of Education Meeting
TOPEKA – Jan. 21, 2011 – The State Board of Education underwent a leadership reorganization in January, electing a new chairman and vice chairman, as well as a new legislative coordinator and assistant legislative coordinator. Dave Dennis, board member from Wichita in the 10th district, assumed the chairmanship from Janet Waugh, who had served as chair since 2009. Carolyn Wims-Campbell, board member from Topeka in the fourth district, was elected to serve as vice chairman, taking over for Jana Shaver who had held the position for the past two years.
Sue Storm, board member from Overland Park in the second district, was elected to serve as the legislative liaison for the next two years and Ken Willard, board member from Hutchinson in the seventh district, was elected to serve as assistant legislative coordinator. Also as part of the reorganization, Board members voted to elect Board members Jana Shaver, district nine; Wims-Campbell, district four; and Kathy Martin, district six, to the Board Policy Committee and to elect Board member Sally Cauble, district five, as the Board’s representative to the Education Commission of the States.
Also at the meeting, Board members approved their meeting schedule through January 2012. The State Board meeting dates can be found on the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) website.
In other business, Board members received the final report and recommendations from the Governor’s Commission on Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery. The commission was appointed in the summer of 2010 by Governor Mark Parkinson to explore issues related to increasing the state’s graduation rate and decreasing the dropout rate and to provide recommendations for key stakeholders. In all, the commission made 38 recommendations in the areas of new statewide expectations, areas for improvement, research opportunities and moving forward. The full report can be found online.
The recommendations of the commission will be among the items Board members consider during their retreat in February to establish goals and objectives for the next two years.
State Board members also received the annual report from the Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC). SEAC advises the Board on issues relevant to the area of education supports and services for students ages 3-21 with disabilities. A copy of the 2009-10 SEAC annual report can be found on the KSDE website.
Representatives from the Kansas Learning Network (KLN) provided a quarterly update of activities to Board members in January. KLN provides the technical assistance that is a federal requirement for districts and schools on improvement. KLN is currently providing services to 24 school districts and 37 schools. Services are provided through Cross & Joftus, LLC, under a contract with KSDE. Representatives from the schools and districts receiving services indicated that having paid staff from Cross & Joftus to conduct the needs assessments in the schools, conduct evaluations, write the reports and provide “teeth” to the recommendations was a vital part of the success of the program.
Also in January, the Board heard from a number of teachers who were among the first in the state to receive the Teacher Leader licensure endorsement that was adopted by the Board in 2009. The endorsement honors educators who are career teachers. More than 300 educators expressed interest in participating in the first endorsement performance assessment, and approximately one hundred qualified to participate. Two higher education institutions have submitted new teacher leader programs and have had the programs approved by the State Board. The first class of teacher leaders may enroll in these programs in the fall of 2011.
Dr. Steve Case, co-director of the Center for Science Education at the University of Kansas, provided Board members with an update on the UKan Teach program at the University of Kansas. The program allows students completing their Bachelor degrees in mathematics or science to add UKan Teach coursework to obtain a secondary teaching license within a four-year program of study. The program started in 2007 and subsequently received a National Math and Science Initiative replication grant to implement the program as part of a national effort that now includes 22 universities.
Case shared that there are currently 260 students enrolled in UKan Teach courses and 300 students are expected to enroll for the fall semester of 2011. Since the program began, it has graduated 22 students. Twelve graduates are teaching in schools, three students are in graduate school and one is in chiropractic school. Six December 2010 graduates are seeking teacher jobs. The program expects to have 19 graduates in the spring of 2011.
The Board’s recent focus on bullying prevention measures continued in January with a review of draft language for a Board statement on bullying and for a proposed resolution to
create an anti-bullying awareness week in October each year. In December, Board members approved creating the statement and requesting the resolution, as well as the development of model Social, Emotional and Character Development Standards. Board members shared some suggested edits to the statement and resolution. The items will be brought back to the Board in February for a vote.
Following an executive session on the evening of Jan. 11, Board members voted to self- report to the appropriate office a potential violation of the State’s Open Meetings Act by a State Board member. In discussion, the Board attorney shared that one Board member may have inadvertently violated the Open Meetings Act by responding to all recipients of an e-mail communication from the Board attorney. That response may have made the communication “interactive,” which may have caused a violation of the act. Notification will be made to either the State Attorney General or the county District Attorney so that a determination can be made as to whether a violation occurred.
The next State Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Feb. 8 and 9 in Topeka.