The Kansas Association of School Board’s Kansas Conversations project, “Suitable? A Conversation About Improving Kansas Public Education,” engaged the citizens of Kansas in conversations about their local schools and the future of education in Kansas. The conversations took place between March and October 2011 and involved close to 2,500 Kansans. Key findings from conversations in over 75 school districts, representing 90 communities in Kansas, are included in two reports (links below).
Kansans all across the state are being asked the same questions:
(1) What do Kansas public schools currently offer that promotes intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement?
(2) What are Kansas public schools not doing that should be added to provide such improvement?
(3) What should Kansas public schools stop doing because it does not advance such improvement?
Data from conversations all across the state was shared with the Governor, state legislators and other policy makers in Topeka.
"Public education is a topic of daily conversation in Topeka, and Governor Brownback and legislative leaders in Topeka are interested in the outcome of these conversations," said John Heim, executive director. "This state-wide initiative gives the people of Kansas a chance to speak up, be heard and ensure that Kansas public schools reflect the hopes and dreams of all Kansans."
An online toolkit
gave local school districts everything needed to hold a conversation, and KASB staff traveled to locations to facilitate and support districts through the event.
Why the interest what Kansans think?
The constitution requires the legislature to establish and maintain public schools for € intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement.
Many have used the terms "defining a suitable" education, but that terminology does not appear in the Constitution. Article Six, Section One of the Kansas Constitution charges the Legislature with establishing a system of public education to "provide for intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement." Section 6 says "The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state." KASB believes any definition of suitable finance must focus on improving education in the state.
This initiative was a way to include all Kansans in critical conversations about their public schools. The process created a new sense of awareness and understanding in each community of issues and challenges schools continue to face, and provided a way for the community to be a part of the solution.