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file photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers voted last weekend to increase public school funding over the next half decade — the latest chapter in a long and winding court battle.

            Five things about Kansas’ school finance fight

The story is far from over. Here’s what’s ahead in the coming weeks and months, and where it could all spin out of control.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer wants lawmakers to fix a costly mistake in the school finance bill passed after midnight on the last day of the regular session.

“It needs to be taken care of,” Colyer said Wednesday. “We’ll work with the Legislature on doing that.”

The error — a byproduct of confusion and deal-making in the session’s final hours early Sunday morning —makes re-engineering the state’s school finance formula more difficult than usual.

Grit

Apr 11, 2018

Do you have grit? Does your kid have grit? "Grit" has become a buzzword in education and child development circles. But a KU professor thinks that it might be leaving some people out, especially in the classroom. A look at the value — and limits — of grit.

 

 

National Assessment of Educational Progress

Missouri students scored about as well as Illinois students but trailed their peers in Kansas on a national math and reading assessment, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Tuesday.

Scores on the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress – known colloquially as NAEP and sometimes referred to as the nation’s report card – remained steady, with Missouri fourth and eighth graders doing about as well as they did in 2015.

Jim Persinger tells the story with a little frustration.

A school administrator saw school psychologists — his field — as interchangeable with counselors and social workers.

Segment 1: Community members recall memories of switching schools after riots following Martin Luther King Jr's assassination.

 After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, two local catholic high schools, one serving a primarily white community and the other serving a primarily black community, held a year-long student exchange program. Today, we speak with a few individuals who participated in the exchange as students and discuss the profound effect it had on their lives.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Lawmakers may not know for months whether a deal to pump half a billion dollars into schools goes far enough to end seven years of court battles over whether the state shortchanges Kansas children.

If it falls short, the Kansas Supreme Court could call them back to Topeka this summer with yet another ultimatum to send even more money to local districts.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

Arm wrestling over a final deal on Kansas school spending begins in earnest Friday after the Senate settled on a figure that’s much lower than the House’s position.

The bill squeaked through after hours of discussion, winning the last vote necessary only after leaders forced lawmakers who initially abstained to weigh in.

Earlier, with the bill’s fate unclear, Republican leaders in the Senate issued stern direction to members of their party. Some were called into a closed-door meeting with Senate President Susan Wagle.

Funeral services were held in Topeka on Thursday for civil rights icon Linda Brown, the schoolgirl at the center of the landmark Supreme Court case that declared school segregation unconstitutional.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

A push to elbow the judiciary out of school spending by rewording the Kansas Constitution cleared a legislative committee Wednesday.

Yet the effort likely won’t get a full House vote this week and could be doomed on a roll call.

It’ll need two-thirds support in both the House and Senate, something that may prove even harder after Democrats and moderate Republicans swept up more seats in the 2016 elections.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas House has had its say on school finance — putting the ball in the Senate’s court. But Senate leaders say they won’t move forward on increasing K-12 funding to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court without a deal to prevent schools from suing again in the future.

 

The message from Senate President Susan Wagle and Republican Leader Jim Denning was loud and clear Tuesday: Kansas must amend the state constitution to put an end to the cycle of litigation over school funding.

 

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

Republicans in the Kansas House couldn’t win enough votes Monday to increase school funding by hundreds of millions of dollars. Conservatives in their own party thought it was too much money, Democrats said it was too little.

House Majority Leader Don Hineman said legislative leaders would keep working toward a compromise and could come back with a fresh proposal on Tuesday.

“Hopefully we have a different outcome tomorrow,” he said late Monday, but added that the bill as written is “all we can afford at this point in time.”

Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri House has approved its budget for the 2018 fiscal year, and the ball is now in the Senate's court. It's no small thing getting all the numbers to add up to pay for transportation, K-12 and higher education, social services ... and everything else. But how does that work, especially when lawmakers don't share the vision of the governor, whose proposal is their starting place and who ultimately has to implement whatever priorities they set? Host Brian Ellison talks about the process and the results so far with Traci Gleason of the Missouri Budget Project and Rep.

file photo / Kansas News Service

A report meant to guide Kansas school spending appears to have overshot the mark by more than half a billion dollars.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: With deadline looming, Kansas lawmakers struggle to find funding plan that satisfies the state's legislature and supreme court.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Republicans in the Kansas House have unveiled a school funding proposal to send an added half billion dollars to local districts in the next five years. A committee advanced the plan Wednesday night to the full House for consideration.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Carmen Xavier, a candidate for the Board of Education in Smithville, Missouri, has been very deliberate about letting voters know she is transgender. But she’s also been very clear that she believes her decades of public service qualify her for the job.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Coming off of a weekend where gun violence dominated headlines, Mayor Sly James didn't shy away from the topic at his seventh "State of the City" address Tuesday at Westport's Plexpod.

James touted the city's progress on infrastructure over the past year, including groundbreakings for both the new airport and new convention hotel and plans for a new Buck O'Neil Bridge underway.

file photo / Kansas News Service

At school, Kansas students learn what to do in case a shooter attacks. Lock classroom doors. Turn out the lights. Huddle out of view from the window in the door.

In the Statehouse, lawmakers are searching for consensus on better ways to prevent, or cut short, school shootings. Arm teachers? Fortify schools? Train kids about guns?

On Tuesday, the feelings clashed in a committee hearing and on the floor of the Kansas House just days after gun control activists drew crowds to March for Our Lives protests in Kansas City, Wichita, Topeka and across the country.

Updated at 2:00 a.m. ET Tuesday

Linda Brown, who as a schoolgirl was at the center of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that rejected racial segregation in American schools, died in Topeka, Kan., Sunday afternoon. She was 76.

Her sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson, confirmed the death to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

file photo / Kansas News Service

A report commissioned by the Kansas Legislature made clear just how much it might cost to improve student outcomes at public schools.

It’s so expensive, says a new lobbying group, that it threatens the quality of Kansas roads, health care and other government functions.

That fledgling outfit wants to amend the state constitution, freeing lawmakers to dodge steep hikes in school spending. External experts argue that added money would be needed to fulfill promises to graduate high school students better prepared for college or the workplace.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Now that Republican leaders have a report they commissioned on school funding, it’s not clear they’ll pursue its recommendations to spend more for better student performance.

Lawmakers continued digging into the numbers Monday and quizzed the study’s authors for the first time since the document was unveiled Friday.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

(This story has been updated.)

Getting most Kansas schoolchildren doing well enough in math and reading to stay on track for college could cost an extra $2 billion a year — or roughly half what the state already spends on aid to local schools.

The figure comes from a report released Friday that lawmakers commissioned to help them judge the costs of getting better classroom results and to comply with a Kansas Supreme Court order.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Leaders in City Hall and Kansas City Public Schools are just beginning to piece together a connection between Kansas City’s high numbers of evictions and the academic performance of children affected by forced moves.

The data is preliminary, but Michael Reynolds, chief research and accountability officer for the school district, says a relationship is coming into focus.

“Without a question, students who get evicted have worse academic outcomes, according to the state and according to standard testing, than students who don’t,” Reynolds says.

Stephan Bisaha / Kansas News Service

Students in Kansas are bearing more than two-thirds of the cost of their education at public universities in the state.

That’s a sharp increase over the last 16 years. In 2001, revenue from tuition was little more than a third of the cost of education — about 35 percent. Today it's just over 71 percent.

Big Stock

The father of a 19-year-old Shawnee Mission South student says his daughter was sexually assaulted last April on a school bus as she was returning home from school.

The allegations are detailed in a lawsuit filed this week against First Student Inc., which last year lost its transportation contract with the Shawnee Mission School District.

Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

In her Twitter bio, Julia Good Fox says she’s “unapologetically tribalist.”

“I love tribalism, and that might be shocking,” she told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

People have been taught that it’s a negative word, she added, “which is very interesting, considering how many American Indian tribes we have here, and considering that this is an indigenous area.”

Segment 1: Meet a dean at Haskell Indian Nations University.

What does a dean do? We talk with Julia Good Fox about her work at Haskell — and what she tries to communicate about her school through her "Tweet-alongs."

Segment 2, beginning at 24:50: Looking back on the life of a Cuban artist.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Republicans in the Kansas House on Tuesday unveiled a plan they say will make schools safer.

Really more of a plan to get a plan, it calls for the Kansas State Department of Education and state emergency response and law enforcement agencies to develop statewide standards for “safe and secure school buildings.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Can an all-girls charter school with a college prep curriculum help young women of color in Kansas City’s poorest neighborhoods succeed?

Tom Krebs thinks so, though he’s admittedly an odd champion for single-gender education.

“I’m a white guy from the East Coast. Why am I the leader of this effort?” Krebs, founding CEO of Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy, said at a community meeting last week. “I’m hoping long term I won’t be.”

In fact, hiring someone to lead the charter school is “the biggest decision we’re going to make,” Krebs says.

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