Posted Date: 01/24/2022
The House K-12 Education Budget Committee on Monday held a wide-ranging discussion on critical race theory, diversity and equity training, social and emotional learning and more.
At the conclusion of the two-hour meeting, Committee Chair Kristey Williams, R-Augusta, said parents are telling legislators they want more transparency about what schools are teaching. “This issue will not disappear” Williams said.
Williams invited the participants who provided opening statements and then took questions from committee members.
David Smith, communications coordinator with Shawnee Mission USD 512, and Mark McCormick, director of strategic communications for the Kansas ACLU, defended providing a deep view of history and equity training so that students were knowledgeable about America’s past and felt included.
Tamara James, a parent in the Blue Valley district, and Denise Roberts, a Johnson County parent who pulled her children from their district, spoke against CRT and SEL. James said CRT taught students that racism is systemic and Roberts said SEL courses were promoting student activism.
Here is a link to their testimony, which mirrored much of the debate going on across the country.
Earlier during the meeting, several bills were introduced.
Rep Patrick Penn, a Republican from Wichita, introduced a measure setting up education savings accounts, which would allow the use of public tax dollars to send students to private schools. Rep. Jarrod Ousley, a Democrat from Merriam, introduced a bill that would remove the 40-hour limit on schools for remote learning that was adopted last year. Rep. Timothy Johnson, a Republican from Bonner Springs, introduced a bill that would allow students to transfer to any district in the state. These proposals have not received bill numbers yet so details haven’t been released, but KASB will follow up with more information later.
A video wrapup of the day’s events can be seen here.
Several hearings on education bills are scheduled this week.
The House Education Committee will consider on Tuesday HB 2466, which would provide funding to support expanded teacher training programs to increase the supply of qualified teachers for computer science courses. KASB will testify as neutral because we support ways of improving education outcomes, but oppose making a computer course mandatory for graduation because this would interfere with the State Board of Education’s authority and would make it more difficult for schools to put together individual plans of study for students. Also there is a task force currently looking at Kansas graduation requirements that will report to the State Board within the next couple of months.
Also on Tuesday, the House K-12 committee will consider HB2513, which would require school districts to provide copies of certain tests, questionnaires, surveys or examinations to parents prior to obtaining consent to administer them.
The K-12 committee on Wednesday will hear HB 2512, This bill would adjust funding for part-time students in virtual schools. Also on Wednesday, the committee will hear HB 2514, which would require school districts to allow students in home schools or other non-accredited private schools to enroll on a part-time basis in a combination of public, private or parochial school.
Here is a link to a summary of additional bills that have been filed in recent days.