At-risk, Dyslexia, Bullying Reports Heard and Discussed … Repeatedly

We’ve had plenty of exposure to reports this week with several committees learning about the Division of Legislative Post Audit’s (LPA) report on at-risk funding and expenditures. Auditor Heidi Zimmerman has appeared before the House Education Committee, the House K-12 Budget Committee, and the Senate Education Committee to share their findings with Legislators. On the House side, the State Department of Education (KSDE) was given the opportunity to address the issues raised; there was no time for that in the Senate given the fact that Senate Committees are only half as long as House Committees.

There is a radical difference of opinion between KSDE and the LPA on what the statute actually requires of the department and districts when it comes to at-risk programs and the use of at-risk funds. We reported in detail on the issue earlier this week. Click here to read that report.

The House Committees also heard from the KSDE on two other initiatives – the Bullying Task Force and the Dyslexia Task Force. While Representatives were generally happy with the progress being made on the dyslexia issue, they had serious concerns about the Bullying report.

Most notable among those concerns was a perception that there was little accountability when it comes to districts actually following up on and investigating reports of bullying. There were also concerns about what happens when bullying crosses the line into assault, necessitating a report to law enforcement.

Click here to read the final report of the Bullying Task Force.

Click here to read the Dyslexia Task Force recommendations.

Cherry-picking for Vouchers

Next week the House K-12 Budget Committee will hold a hearing on HB 2465, a bill enacting a radical expansion of the tax scholarship (voucher) program.

This bill was brought to committee by Rep. Steve Huebert (R-Valley Center) on behalf of a “school choice” organization.

Under current law, to be eligible for a scholarship, a student must be an at-risk student in one of the 100 lowest performing Kansas public schools. The change in this bill would drop the requirement that the child be at-risk. Instead, the child would have to be on free or reduced lunch. Additionally, the requirement that the child be from a low-performing school is dropped and students can come from any school.

So a plan that was originally sold on the idea of helping struggling students find alternatives to low-performing schools becomes a plan to divert tax dollars to recruit high achieving low-income students from any school. The program is essentially flipped.