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Superintendent's Report - Redesigning Schools

By Evans, Todd

November 09, 2017

The “Kansans Can” vision is a positive and aggressive vision for the future. During their “Community Conversations” tour several years ago, Commissioner Dr. Randy Watson, along with other Kansas learning leaders, gathered information from business people, parents, and community leaders about what is desired for a Kansas High School graduate.

Through this process, the vision for the future of Kansas education evolved.

The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) is undertaking a courageous project to re-design schools in order to put this vision into action. Fourteen schools are serving as pilot schools.

These schools will have KSDE support in implementing change. According to a KSDE release, “We can rethink how our schools are asked to operate. From a state perspective, we will look at every requirement to determine if and how we are supporting or impeding our school’s abilities to address the needs of each child.”

There is speculation that the direction for change may impact many of the “rules” or common practices that have been followed in mainstream Kansas education.

According to a release from KSDE, the redesign will focus on the following needs:

• Kansas children need quality preschool, including all-day kindergarten.

• Changes need to be made to address school culture. We have to value and support the student who chooses to pursue a technical education or a two-year college as much as we do the student pursuing a four-year college degree.

• New dynamic roles are needed for counselors and social workers. We have to provide opportunities for school counselors and social workers to focus on helping individual students explore career paths and develop individual plans of study.

• Collaboration between schools and business is critical. We must find a way to get businesses into the classroom and the classroom into businesses through internships and job shadowing.

• Schools need to be reorganized around the student, not the systems. We must find a way for equity and common sense to co-exist.

• Community Service should play a bigger role.

USD No. 113 schools are already working toward accomplishing many of these goals, but we have much room for improvement. Flexibility with educational programs is identified by the state as being crucial to achievement of the vision. This emphasis on flexibility and the potential for changes to requirements established by the state may directly impact educational programs in USD No. 113.

Through the use of these articles, I plan to provide additional information about the Kansas school re-design project, what challenges exist and the potential for change to USD No. 113 schools.

The goal and vision of KSDE for all Kansas school districts to undergo a redesign within the next few years is an aggressive and positive approach to meeting the needs of all students. I am excited about the positive impact this vision can have on our children.

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