Public schools have rarely faced more challenges or been a more controversial political topic in Kansas or across the nation.
In recent years the state Legislature has changed the funding formula for public schools and the state Supreme Court has challenged the equity and amount of funding schools receive.
And as this happens, schools in Wichita – the state’s largest district – continue to get more diverse. Hispanic students now make up the largest share of students in the district. Only one in every three students is white. More than 80 languages are spoken by students in Wichita schools, and nearly 20 percent are enrolled in English for Speakers of Other Languages programs.
In another generation, whites will make up less than half the U.S. population. By paying attention to what’s happening in our schools, we get a glimpse of what this future holds for us.
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Many of the people in Topeka who are making decisions about the future of public education in the state attended a public school that looks very different from the ones serving students now.
The Wichita Eagle is working with four Wichita public schools this year to give snapshots into the challenges and best practices facing its schools.
In the first story, we look at how one man, Justin Kasel, the principal at Hamilton Middle School on South Broadway, has been trying to pull up the reputation of his school beyond some of the obstacles it faces.
By spending time in four Wichita schools this year, Eagle reporters Oliver Morrision and Suzanne Perez Tobias hope to take some of the recent education debates out of the abstract. As the year progresses, The Eagle will provide regular glimpses and updates to Our Changing Schools.