Opinion Columns & Blogs

KNEA open to new ideas

The Kansas Policy Institute recently sponsored public forums featuring Matthew Ladner of the Goldwater Institute, who touted a Florida school "fix" that even he admitted is divisive ("Education researcher: Kan. can learn from Fla.," Jan. 26 Eagle).

Ladner admitted that Kansas students across all grades and categories perform better than their peers in the touted Florida system. This was based on Ladner's own "report card." Yet he advocates that Kansas adopt Florida ideas that would take tax dollars from the public schools through vouchers. Further, he wants to establish privately run charter schools, over which the public would have no control and no say regarding how tax money is used.

These ideas rest on glaring errors of analysis. The Kansas Policy Institute disregards basic reasons for Florida students' improvement: major class size reduction and not including the most challenging learners in test averages. It makes one wonder why it would mislead us.

In a recent commentary in the Topeka Capital-Journal, institute president Dave Trabert insinuated that the teachers who belong to the Kansas National Education Association are uncomfortable talking about ideas that might help the students we teach every day.

For years, Kansas NEA members have advocated for transforming our schools so that our Kansas kids have the skills and knowledge necessary to compete with students across the country and around the world. We are leaders in finding new ways to integrate the latest technology into our teaching. Kansas NEA members partner with school boards and local communities every day to make public schools great for every child.

How dare Trabert say that we are afraid of controversial ideas? We make and stand by our decisions every day, decisions that affect students and their families, the economic health of our communities and the future of our state.