March 24, 2016 Newsletter
Mosaic was at the Capitol for InterHab Push Day this week. Representing Mosaic from Liberal were Janeth Leon and Nathan Sittingdown. I learned a lot during our conversation about group homes and independent living for the developmentally disabled. Like other issues facing society, the answers are complicated, varied and often not what you think they are on first thought. Every life has value and “Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members” Cardinal Roger Mahony.
I’m writing this during a break on the last day of session before our April recess. I will return April 26th
for veto session. Conference committees are meeting to reconcile differences between the Houses on bills jointly passed. Some conference committees will be adding language to bills to fix problems that one house failed to address. Some committee chairs will use this process to further a private agenda. Sometimes three or four bills are bundled together to insure passage of an unpopular piece of legislation. It is a time for “the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Today I voted in favor of the first attempt by the legislature to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling that the current Block Grant is unconstitutional. This bill holds all schools harmless. No school district will receive less funding under this solution and $2 million of additional funding will be added. Other proposed solutions have failed to make it out of committee. This bill is far from perfect but I think it is important we get the court to rule on the constitutionality of this proposal as soon as possible as part of the process.
HB 2729 requiring school districts to procure IT equipment, services, software and food through the State Department of Administration was sent back to committee after fuel and design build construction management services were removed by amendment. This bill was part of the efficiency study recommendations from Alvarez & Marsal. The bill is based on the assumption that the State can do things better than our local school board. I have not seen evidence that Topeka is more efficient than our local school board when it comes to food and computer purchases. Do we want to have to buy IT Services from a big company in eastern Kansas just because they can jump through the bureaucratic hoops to become a State Sponsored Vendor? How can the state contract for lettuce and save money if the vendor has to offer the same price for lettuce in Tribune as it does Wichita? The idea sounds good until you study it. Coming down the pike will be requirements to purchase insurance, maintenance, and vehicles through the state. How can we have a prosperous rural Kansas when even the State does not value our local businesses?
The legislature debated a bill that would have severed any ties between Kansas’s education standards and any current or future national standards because of concerns by many Kansans over Common Core. I studied the issue extensively and listened closely to the debate. The legislature voted down the proposed legislation overwhelming 44-78. Kansas standards are called “College and Career Ready Standards.” They do not mirror Common Core and are required to have at least 15% Kansas content. The standards are reevaluated by subject on a regular rotation. They do not
dictate textbooks, curriculum, or required readings. They do not
address testing our children for accountability. Text books, ACT, SAT, PSAT and AP tests all require some adherence to a national consensus on education. The standards address when schools teach simple addition, division, fractions, the American Revolution, Ancient History and Kansas History among many others. The standards insure students changing school districts do not miss out on educational basics all Americans need. Kansas Standards are not causing the concerns regarding excessive testing, inappropriate curriculum, or ineffective curriculum. Curriculum and testing are determined by our local school board.
“ If a child cannot learn in the way we teach, we must teach in a way the child can learn .”
“ Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere .”
Please reach out to me regarding issues with our state government that I can help with. I do ask that you send the request to me by email. My email address is: Shannon.firstname.lastname@example.org
. This insures that I get the information correctly to the agency we are working with.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve. Please contact me anytime. My email is: Shannon.email@example.com