Kansas Legislative Update, January 2017

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The Kansas legislature will convene for the 2017 session on Monday, January 9th. Governor Brownback’s State-of-the-State address will be on Tuesday evening, January 10th. One of the questions that we are waiting to see if it will be answered is whether the Governor’s 2017 education platform will mirror the potential national education agenda to replace the public school system with a voucher-type model. These have been referred to as ‘funding tied to student outcomes’ or ‘performance-based funding’ (PBF for short). The Kansas PTA legislative team will be following along all session. For daily updates, find us on Twitter @KsPTALeg.

New School Finance Formula: Development of a new school finance formula for K-12 public education will be one of the session’s top priorities. We will keep you posted on how the new formula is progressing, particularly in terms of our recommended School Finance Guiding Principles that we submitted to the Governor and our state legislators in November:

  • Quality public education for all.
  • Some students have greater learning needs.
  • Suitable funding is a legislative constitutional obligation.
  • Strong schools are rooted in partnership.
  • No unfunded mandates.
  • Comprehensive early childhood education for all.
  • Health and safety for all.
  • nvest in educators’ professional development.
  • Facilitate quality leadership and professional communities.
  • No vouchers.
  • Driven by state education standards.
  • Budget predictability.

The Kansas PTA guiding principles for the new school finance formula are closely aligned with those of our Kansas educators and school boards (e.g., United School Administrators of Kansas, Kansas Association of School Boards). A complete list of the K-12 Education Budget committee members, scheduled to meet daily, can be found here on the Kansas Legislative website.

Other Watch-List Issues: The state tax policy debate will continue as the other top priority for state legislators in 2017 (see Kansas Center for Economic Growth). A predictable and adequate funding stream for K-12 public education is among the top ten commonly identified priorities for the new school finance formula. The pending Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling on the adequacy portion of the Gannon school finance lawsuit will play a significant role in the final shape of the formula and the evolution of tax policy. Other pressing education watch-issues include an anticipated amendment to the Kansas gun bill allowing concealed and carry on college campuses.

National Education Agenda: The public education community is rising to action in preparation for the January 11 confirmation hearings of nominee, Betsy DeVos, to serve as Secretary of Education. While PTA does not advocate for or against nominees, please be aware of the National PTA New Release regarding the nominee. PTA members are urged to share our policy position with our US Senators, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran:

  • The PTA opposes any private school choice system—vouchers, tax credits or deductions—that would divert public school resources.
  • The PTA remains steadfast in our approach of putting the needs of all children first by advocating for high-quality public education.
  • The PTA supports public education as the major vehicle for preserving the basic values of a democratic system of government.
  • The public education system must be strengthened with the support of adequate funding, and continue to be governed by public officials.
  • The PTA supports high academic standards for all students and advocates to maintain, strengthen and implement state-designed college and career ready standards. These standards should have aligned curriculum and assessments to support academic achievement and college and workplace readiness.
  •  The PTA seeks to expand access to high-quality early education, improve child nutrition programs, provide access to technology in schools, ensure safe environments in and outside of school, and increase federal investments in education.

Kansas PTA Advocacy Day: Thursday, January 26th from 9:00 – 4:00 will be Kansas PTA Advocacy Day at the Capitol. We have reserved tables in the NW Quadrant, First Floor Rotunda at the Capitol in Topeka. Information on Kansas PTA policies and issues will be on hand to distribute during the day. Meetings with legislators will be scheduled to discuss Kansas PTA policies and concerns. Please plan to join us for all or part of the day!

Contact Us: Kansas PTA advocacy efforts are guided by our Legislative Platform and Priorities, which are reviewed and voted on annually by our members. Please contact the Kansas PTA Legislative team with questions or comments:

Debbie Lawson - Devin Wilson - Mary Sinclair - Josh Halperin – Brian Hogsett

Topeka, Kansas (785) 234-5782 kansaspta@gmail.com http://www.kansas-pta-legislative.org