The Kansas Legislature is seeing a flurry of activity this week on bills that affect public education and many of them have run into opposition from two groups in northeast Johnson County that specifically monitor education legislation.
Both the group Game On for Kansas Schools and the Shawnee Mission Area Council of PTAs (SMAC) have sent out legislative alerts in the last week about several bills. Among those are bills that would authorize private charter schools, allow vouchers to be used in private schools and eliminate the Common Core standards that are already being implemented in the public schools.
A third group, MainStream Coalition is sponsoring a forum Thursday (Feb. 20) at 7 p.m. at Colonial Church on Mission Road that will address education issues in the legislature. That panel is titled “Education Under Assault.”
State Rep. Melissa Rooker, who sits on the House Education Committee, said the Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship bill, seen as a voucher bill by the groups opposing it, will be heard Friday by the committee. That is one of the bills that Game On will be opposing.
“We are most concerned about the continuing promotion of expansion of charters, vouchers (sometimes referred to as “corporate tax credit scholarships) and online schools,” said Judith Deedy of Game On. “We continue to try to increase the awareness among Kansans that these bills pose a threat to our children and the future of our state.”
Today the education committee was scheduled to hear testimony about the bill that would nullify the Common Core standards, a move that was defeated in last year’s session. Another bill the committee has been grappling with this week involves the parent opt-out for human sexuality classes. Rooker said it is written as “health and human sexuality” so it may require clarification. The bill is designed to make school districts have parents opt-in to sexuality courses, but Rooker does not want it to affect health classes as well, which are required in Shawnee Mission.
The bill has roots in a controversy at Hocker Grove Middle School over a poster that was part of supplemental materials that have since been suspended. Rooker said she “does support the teaching of sex education” but thought the material at the middle school was inappropriate.
“I generally prefer a parent opt-out,” Rooker said. Parents should be paying attention to what is taught in their chldren’s schools, she said.
The committee process ends next Tuesday in Topeka and then bills will move to the floor.