Kansas Board of Education to Face Most Controversial Year Yet

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas education leaders have some big decisions to make on every level from the classroom to the courtroom.

According to The Lawrence Journal-World, the Kansas State Board of Eduction say 2013 will be one of its busiest and most controversial years in recent history. It’s busy developing the Next Generation Science Standards, which will likely serve as a national model for science curriculum standards. The controversial issue among conservatives is the teaching of evolution versus biblical explanations of creation. The final draft of these standards is scheduled for public release sometime this week.

On the legislative front, lawmakers are trying to figure out how to boost education funding despite massive income tax cuts in 2012. Funding for public schools uses roughly half of Kansas’ general budget; however income tax cuts are expected to take a huge chunk out of future revenues. According to legislative research, there could be a budget deficit of $2.5 billion by 2018.

Lastly, judges are expected to decide soon whether to rule current funding for public schools as unconstitutional. The lawsuit, Gannon vs. Kansas, was filed in 2010 by a coalition of school districts. They claim the cuts enacted since the economic downturn violate the state’s constitutional requirement that the legislature provides adequate funds for public schools.

Whatever the outcome, the case will likely not have an immediate effect because it’s expected to be appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court.

A couple other issues on the table include renegotiating collective bargaining rights for teachers, considering a law requiring third grade students to be retained if they are unable to pass the state reading assessment and providing vouchers for private and parochial education.

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