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Alliance between KSDE, task force and Kansas PBS will bring supplemental education content to families’ televisions

Posted: Apr 16, 2020
Categories: KSDE
Author: Ann Bush

Kansas’ students will receive supplemental education content via television thanks to an alliance between the Kansas State Department of Education, the Continuous Learning Task Force and the Kansas Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

The new partnership is called Continuous Learning-Kansas Public Broadcasting Alliance and will give students of all ages another avenue for learning. Each 30-minute segment of the “Learning Across Kansas” television show will feature educational content and will be aired on PBS stations across Kansas.

“This PBS alliance is the perfect partnership to reach every learner in Kansas – from our most rural communities to our most populated neighborhoods – easily and effectively,” said Dyane Smokorowski, one of three chairs of the Continuous Learning Task Force. “For the first time in Kansas history, teachers will be able to reach all learners through broadcasting and online access while bringing them inspiration, creativity and fun – all centered around current classroom content. That’s the magic of public access – it benefits everyone. Thank you to PBS for this opportunity.”

The Continuous Learning Task Force was created by Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson to offer guidance after Gov. Laura Kelly closed school buildings for the remainder of the school year because of COVID-19.

The Task Force is chaired by Smokorowski, an innovation and technology leader for Andover Unified School District 385 and the 2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year; Cindy Couchman, assistant superintendent at Buhler USD 313 and the 2009 Kansas Teacher of the Year; and Tabatha Rosproy, an early childhood teacher at Winfield USD 465, 2020 Kansas Teacher of the Year and a 2020 National Teacher of the Year finalist.

“This partnership with PBS comes at a time when working together is more important than ever,” Rosproy said. “Through this alliance, we will be able to help bring learning from school into the homes of our students through mediums we previously did not have access to. Together, we are reaching families and students in a way we hope continues to build on this incredible learning that takes place every day in our classrooms.”

Couchman shared in Rosproy’s excitement about the alliance.

“The partnership between Kansas educators and PBS provides an avenue to continue educating, inspiring and connecting Kansans,” she said. “Public access to educational content has never been more needed or more valued.”

After the governor’s announcement, Eugene Williams, executive director and general manager of KTWU Public Television in Topeka, began to meet with KTWU’s senior management team to formulate an idea of how KTWU might be able to assist the public schools. Williams also met with the Kansas Public Broadcasting Council members and the Continuous Learning Task Force.

The group will share a series of programs and promotions on the air to assist students, parents and teachers, according to Williams.

“Education and information are the hallmarks of public media,” Williams said. “A number of children, parents, grandparents and teachers recognize public television as America's largest classroom. And they also recognize public radio as a primary source of information. In the state of Kansas, we (KTWU in Topeka; Smoky Hills Public TV in Bunker Hill; KPTS in Wichita; and KCPT in Kansas City) provide news, information, education and entertainment content 24 hours on various platforms for the citizens of Kansas. It is only natural that public media in Kansas is interested in developing an alliance with KSDE to assist the state in educating its citizens during this time of crisis and uncertainty.”

The supplemental education content will be geared toward all grade levels and will be taught by Kansas teachers across the state. The content will be shared through PBS stations.

Michael Quade, director of broadcasting for Smoky Hills PBS, and Victor Hogstrom, president and CEO of KPTS, said they are happy to play a role in the partnership.

“Two of Smoky Hill PBS’ objectives are local productions/programs and education, and we believe that the Kansas Public Broadcast Alliance with educators is important for children, educators and parents in Kansas during this time of the Coronavirus,” Quade said. “We are happy to bring both a local program and education together for a very good cause.”

Despite the challenges the educational system faces today, the value of education in Kansas must be maintained and carried out in the interest of Kansas students, Hogstrom said.

“Kansas public broadcasting has an important role to play by helping to improve children’s learning and to always help prepare children for success,” he said. “This is a part of our mission. It is also a part of the local impact that Kansas public broadcasting has on communities throughout the state. Every community in Kansas deserves a great public media outlet - one that is capable of delivering community-building programs and services that will also help educate. Kansas Public Broadcasting continues to play that role, such as with the alliance between the Kansas State Department of Education and the Kansas Public Broadcasting Council.”

Kent Cornish, president of the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, said the alliance spotlights two industries that serve their local communities – teachers and broadcasters. This partnership will allow “public broadcasters to serve as another conduit to families, while at the same time commercial broadcasters are airing their own produced material for students and parents,” Cornish said.

Public broadcasters take their public service obligation and responsibilities very serious, Williams said.

“This is another opportunity for us to go beyond the conventional program and to show how our outreach efforts can impact the communities we live in in a positive way,” he said. “Public radio and public television have great reach throughout Kansas. We are happy to put our expertise, skill and talent to work with the alliance to assist Kansas residents.”

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