School Districts elect Boards of Education to represent our concerns and our needs when making decisions about our district. Blue Valley students, patrons, and schools differ from other districts - that’s why each district elects its own Board to represent them.
Our School Board members are also members of our community. They’re elected by our community to represent us. Our district chooses to seek patron input to Board decisions in many ways. There are several Board Advisory Committees which include patrons. The Board will host open houses and public events to seek input on important matters like boundary changes, the recent superintendent search, and requests for budget increases (such as a bond issue.) School Board meetings are open to the public and start with an open forum. We value the willingness of our Board and district administration to listen to patron concerns and opinions.
Stand Up Blue Valley believes that local Boards of Education, elected by and representing the needs and values of the community where they live and serve, are in the best position to make most policy decisions for our district. Certainly better than legislators who often have little knowledge of the policies they discuss, and who seem to listen to testimony from anti-public-education special interests even as they debate school policies.
Dangers of allowing legislators to make school district policy include unintended consequences of having non-educators writing the rules for schools. For example, 2016 HB 2292, referred to as the “anti-Common Core bill,” would have not only outlawed the use of “common core” standards, but also would have outlawed AP and IB courses as well as support for college entrance testing such as the ACT, SAT and PSAT. The bill’s proponents clearly didn’t intend this, based on comments made during the debate, but legislators don’t realize how intertwined these standards are. Estimates for rewriting the Kansas State Standards (as called for by HB 2292) were in the range of $9 million, another unintended consequence. As of this writing, HB 2292 was discussed at length by the full House on March 22 and was essentially voted down. However, Blue Valley area Representatives Lunn and Grosserode voted in favor of this bill in committee, and Grosserode openly defended it during debate on the House floor.
Here’s another example of legislative overreach. The House Education committee voted on HB 2199, Feb. 16, 2016, to change sex ed from “opt-out” to “opt-in”. That would mean parents must approve before students would get that instruction. This is despite the fact that local districts already have the option to choose opt-in if their patrons want that, through their local Boards of Education, and despite the fact that almost all of Kansas’ school districts have decided they prefer opt-out. HB 2199 was passed out of Ed Committee and as of this writing has not had a vote by the full House. Why do Extremist legislators want to dictate how our school district manages delivery of content to students in Blue Valley?
Ask yourself, when lawmakers want to legislate policy for our local schools, why? What is their motivation, and who is asking for the legislation? In the examples above, it was not school districts, it wasn’t teachers, it was not the majority of voters. Legislators should leave education policy to the elected State Board of Education and local Boards of Education.