At Kansas Board of Education, some questions aren’t allowed


At a meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education, it became clear that there are certain topics and questions that aren’t to be discussed in public.

At September’s meeting (video here), BOE chair David Dennis interrupted questioning by board member Walt Chappell and proceeded to the next member’s questions. Chappell was asking whether “cut scores” had declined and whether definitions of “meets standard” and “proficiency” had changed. Dennis would not allow these questions to be answered.

It’s clear that Dennis — and the entire Kansas public school bureaucracy — doesn’t want to talk about these questions. Here’s why.

Until this year, scores on Kansas-administered and controlled assessments have been rising — “jumping,” in the recent words of Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker. But scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for Kansas students don’t reflect the same trend. Scores on this test, which is given every two years, haven’t been rising as they have on the Kansas-controlled test scores. Sometimes they decline.

We now know why the Kansas-controlled test scores have risen: The Kansas State Department of Education has lowered standards. Kansas Policy Institute has done the research.

In Removing Barriers to Better Public Education, updated in June with new data, KPI concludes: “In 2000 and 2001 a student needed at least 87% correct answers in Reading to be Proficient (the second-highest performance level), but from 2002 through 2005 they only needed 80% correct answers to be Proficient (the third highest level) on the same test; Proficiency in Math required only 48% correct answers, down from 60%.”

It’s not only KPI that has noticed that Kansas schools have low standards. Data from U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveals that Kansas has low standards for its schools, compared to other states.

These are the types of things the Kansas school public school establishment doesn’t want Kansans to know. Board of Education chair David Dennis uses his authority to silence those who might mention these facts.

While Dennis squelches those who ask inconvenient questions about Kansas public schools, he floated a proposal to increase regulation of homeschooling in Kansas. It’s simply incredible that someone presiding over a failing system — and proud to be part of that system — would want to extend his influence and control over people who have taken great effort to escape the public schools.

Related: Test scores decline; educators quick to blame funding cuts


4 responses to “At Kansas Board of Education, some questions aren’t allowed”

  1. Westider

    The government school establishment rules in Topeka. The most powerful lobbying group is the teachers union. Their pacs have funded the self described “moderates” in both parties. These closet lefties have regularly raised KS taxes and fought all efforts to limit government tax and spending growth in this state.

    Despite numerous “tax cuts,” the size of Kansas government has continued to grow with the state’s accelarated income and automatic appraisal hikes in property taxes. Government employment at the state and local levels is one of the highest percentage among all 50 states (or even the president’s 57 states) too. The state board of education is just an elected rubber stamp for the government school establishment to fiddle with between their lawsuits over to the KS Supreme Court. The KS Supreme Court is the black robed rubber stamps for the government school lobby that really runs state government and Gov. Brownback needs to learn who his real boss is. Brownback’s predecessors in both parties going back decades knew this, and kowtowed accordingly. When a think tank and bloggers take on this entrenched power protected by the decrepit KS news media the outcome has continued to be “moderate” control in Topeka. Despite the 2010 election, the conservatives haven’t touched the real Topeka power and it is uncertain what the 2013 legislature will look like at 47 days before election day.

  2. BettySue

    This is very troubling to me,as my daughter is planning to take my grandson out of Christian School and start him at Goddard(he is in 6th grade)because she has heard “Goddard has good schools” How could I find out if they are “good ” schools? Is this just hearsay?
    Thank you for all you do,the amount of information you put in ‘Liberty’ is amazing,I can only imagine the hours you spend
    striving to provide much-needed factual information!
    God Bless You!!

  3. Bob, Have you seen the latest propaganda piece (First in Education, the Kansas Way) put out by the Kansas Assoc. of School Boards? They state that Kansas is ranked number 6 in the nation. My question; is Kansas’ ranking based on the skewed lowered standards that includes a score of 48% as proficient in math?

    Naturally the KASB’s answer to all of their issues is opening the funding spigot wide open as over 50% ($3.069 billion) of the entire Kansas General Fund is not sufficient. Perhaps all of the educrats who have developed “The Kansas Way” scored at the lower end of the scale in math proficiency?

    Charlotte O’Hara
    27th Dist. Rep.

  4. Westie

    I saw the eagle finally caught up to Bob’s news with an article pointing out the decline in state test scores. While the testing is not a perfect form of measurement of student performance it is much better than nothing. The fact that the government school establishment has tried to minimize the effectiveness of testing is a testiment to forcing tests.

    I must note that Wallace County students are now attacking the latest federal edict limiting the calories, via commisar Michelle, served for school lunches. I also noted that none of the students in this amusing video would appear to be “obese” either.

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