Merit Pay Hearing

The House Education Committee held an informational hearing on the issue of teacher merit pay this afternoon. Note that there is not a bill to create such a plan; the intent of today’s hearing was to see what people think.

It is clear that some legislators want merit pay imposed on teachers and school districts and the Governor has called for such a system to be part of any new school finance system.

Earlier in the session, the issue was brought up by Senator Melcher (R-Leawood) when Commissioner Watson and members of the State Board of Education were speaking to the Senate Education Committee. Watson and Board Member James McNiece both dismissed the idea as bad for morale and harmful to the collaborative nature of teaching.

In today’s hearing the only vocal support (outside of Rep. Jerry Lunn, R-Overland Park) came from the Kansas Policy Institute and the Governor’s office. But even both of them tempered their remarks. KPI said they supported the idea “in concept” and Brandon Smith of the Governor’s office said it should be left to the local board and teachers.

Opposing the imposition of a system from the state were KASB, KNEA, Kansas Families for Education, and the Manhattan-Ogden School Board. There was additional testimony submitted in writing, all but one (the Heritage Foundation) opposed merit pay. You can read all the testimony by clicking here.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this issue throughout the session.

K-12 Student Success Committee Report Adopted

The K-12 Student Success Committee met this morning to take up the report they tabled at their last meeting. Substituted for the original report written by Rep. Ron Highland (R-Wamego) was a new version drafted by Legislative Research staff.

Senator Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka) offered a number of amendments regarding equity, assessments, the mandatory use of the ACT and bond aid payments. Most were voted down on mostly party line votes. Two were adopted:

A new school funding mechanism should:

Focus on each student understand that students have different needs and will require varying levels of support to achieve success;

Be equitable so that school districts have reasonably equal access to substantially similar educational opportunity through similar tax effort.

Some thoughts by Senator Jim Denning (R-Overland Park) were appended to the end of the report while Senator Hensley submitted a minority report.

You can find the documents by clicking here.