ShawneeMissionAreaCouncil PTA Advocacy
2015 Kansas PTA
Legislative Priorities for Education
In alignment with the 2015 Kansas PTA Legislative Platform, adopted by the 2015 convention delegates,
the Kansas PTA Legislative Priorities for the 2015-2016 Kansas legislative session are the following:
PLATFORM—CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION. The Kansas PTA will recommend, initiate and support
legislation and appropriation for public schools that will ensure all children and youth in Kansas a
high quality, adequately funded education.
1. Kansas PTA will support efforts to strengthen and improve the Kansas public school finance system,
which includes legislation and policies that:
a. uphold Kansas Constitutional obligations to make suitable provision for the finance of the
Kansas public schools that is equitable for every child.
b. restore state cuts to base state aid per pupil, back to levels comparable to those deemed suitable
by the legislature - actual costs identified in research studies requested and authorized by the
Kansas legislature (e.g., Legislative Post Audit 2006 Cost Study).
c. pursue solutions to fully fund state and federal educational mandates, including the new uniform
financial accounting and reporting act, without disproportionately shifting the burden to local
2. Kansas PTA will support efforts to restore an equitable and balanced tax policy to maintain a reliable
revenue stream for public education. A policy which draws upon a combination of income, property
and sales taxes has been proven by history to be a secure and sustainable approach. Kansas PTA
opposes provisions limiting the growth of government before public education is fully funded to the
3. Kansas PTA will support efforts to preserve the Kansas Constitutional infrastructure for education,
including nonpartisan elections of Kansas school board members and their appointment of our
Education Commissioner, as well as, retaining the primary responsibility of defining the phrase
intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement with the education governance
structure (Kansas School Board, Kansas Department of Education, education scholars and
4. Kansas PTA supports the State Board of Education’s adoption of new education standards including
the College and Career Ready Standards (derived from the Common Core States Standards Initiative)
and the Next Generation Science Standards. Kansas PTA opposes legislation that would defund efforts
to implement curriculum related to Common Core and/or the Next Generation Science Standards.
5. Kansas PTA opposes the use of vouchers, scholarships or tax credits toward the tuition of non-public
schools that can discriminate in admissions, provide sectarian religious instruction or “compete” under
different rules than public schools; we affirm Governor Brownback’s position that vouchers would not
be effective in the state of Kansas.
6. Kansas PTA will advocate for evidence-based prevention and early intervention programs, including
early childhood programs (e.g., Parent as Teachers and Pre-K Pilot), allocating state funds for all-day
kindergarten, Head Start, and student engagement programs that reduce
dropout rates and increase school completion.
7. While Kansas PTA supports the current state charter legislation, passed in 1994, that allows for the
creation of charter schools under the supervision of local boards of education, Kansas PTA opposes any
charter related legislation that: allows for non-licensed teachers or allows for authorizing entities that
are for-profit, private or non-education.
PLATFORM—TEACHER SUPPORT. Recognizing that quality education for children is directly related
to the effectiveness and efficiency of school personnel, the Kansas PTA will recommend, initiate and
support legislation and appropriations to encourage, recognize and provide incentives for school
personnel that will improve and benefit the education of children and youth in Kansas.
8. Kansas PTA supports restoration and allocation of state funding for teacher mentoring, staff
development and other evidenced-based programs that promote a professional teaching community,
teacher retention and recruitment of quality teachers.
PLATFORM—PARENT ENGAGEMENT. The Kansas PTA recognizes no educational system can be of
the highest quality without the support, involvement and cooperation of parents, legislators, and the
9. Kansas PTA will encourage the adoption of PTA parent engagement standards into relevant
legislation and policy.
PLATFORM—CHILD SAFETY AND PROTECTION. The Kansas PTA advocates for the safety of children
and youth, advocating on issues related to personal safety, violence prevention, and a fair juvenile
10. Kansas PTA supports programming and policies related to safe routes to school, bully prevention,
and the protection of children from gun violence.
Publication of the Kansas PTA Advocacy Leadership (2014).
Mary Sinclair, PhD firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Hogsett, email@example.com
Debbie Lawson, VP of Advocacy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Adopted by the 2015 Kansas PTA Convention delegates 4/25/15
Request a presentation with SMAC Legislative Chairs; Devin Wilson and/or Mary Sinclair. Invite them to be a guest speaker at your local PTA meeting, Site council, or staff meeting
Devin Wilson and Mary Sinclair are SMAC Legislative Co-Chairs for 2014-2016. They were asked to share their personal insights and stories of what led them to their charge and involvement in PTA Legislative Advocacy. They've met at the same crossroads of - PTA, public policy and education – but their routes are very different from each other.
As a new parent, I started out avoiding my local Mill Creek Elementary PTA. I didn’t want to be volunteered to help with bake sales or what I thought of at the time as 'other nonsense' that could take an hour or two out of my already hectic school year. Then I started noticing some of the issues facing our schools and began to learn about the role PTA plays in our schools.
I started by emailing my principal and he explained that there was only so much he could do. He told me that a great deal of the authority is held by our state legislature. They set the budget and they make the rules. It began to dawn on me that school districts are expected to help every single child achieve academic success regardless of whether the principal and teachers have sufficient resources and time to do so. I couldn't understand how people ran for office, claiming to be “pro-education” and yet not support votes for public schools.
This is how my journey started. I finally understood the need. I started asking questions. These problems simply would not fix themselves. Teachers and parents needed to know what was going on in Topeka. Our elected officials needed to spend some time in our public schools.
I was curious how things really work in Topeka. I decided to find out. Last legislative session, 2014, I watched as several bills dealing with education were introduced, and sent to committee. People testifying in committee were parents, teachers, but more alarmingly, lobbyists from groups that don’t represent the best interests of Kansas public schools. Some of these lobbyists are well funded, and given direct access to legislators for weeks on end promoting bills that would have been detrimental to Kansas schools, and our school kids. In many cases, the committee seemed to have its mind made up, at the direction of the chair of the committee. A local representative told me that transparency and swift, loud public outcry appeared to be one of the few ways of helping true propublic education legislators stop destructive bills -- routinely disguised by misleading names.
I was there the weekend of April 5th and 6th, in the Statehouse galleries, with hundreds of teachers and other concerned citizens, to watch democracy in action. Democracy quickly turned to political strategies, as the bipartisan bill to address the recent Gannon Supreme Court decision to adequately fund Kansas Schools was thrown out by leadership. A last minute education funding plan (not even a bill) was completely rewritten, behind closed doors, by only a couple of hand-picked legislators. The facade of discussion bouncing from house to senate, and back, was maintained until leadership secured enough votes to force their agenda on Kansans. The resulting plan was passed at 9:15 pm, Sunday April 6th, while our senators and house representatives were operating on three hours sleep the night before. No bill was available to read until a week after the vote.
One solution to this gap between Kansans' values and those of the legislators elected by less than 15% of eligible voters, can be resolved simply by going to the polls. We also encourage you to find your senator or house representative, and start the lines of communication. You must be a voice for your kids or students. You must speak up to be heard.Silence is consent for what goes on, behind the curtain. And, the Wizards of Oz are supported by corporations and organizations who seek to privatize K-12 education.
I am a Shawnee Mission School District alumnus – Thunderbird, Scout, Mustang, and Lancer. My mother was active in the PTA throughout our grade school years. She impressed upon me, at an early age, the value of parents working together with teachers to create opportunities for every student to have a positive educational experience. I just assumed PTA participation was a part of being a K12 public school parent.
I am also somewhat of a political junkie. Growing up, politics was a common topic of conversation around the dinner table, over morning coffee, or during family gatherings – and when we aren’t talking politics – it doesn’t take long for the conversation to roll back round. While I find today’s ideological gridlock beyond frustrating, along with the push for national corporate profit over the common good, I am always re-inspired by those elected officials who contribute their time and energy to actually govern with a curious mind, a long-term view, and the well-being of all Kansas citizens in mind.
Professionally, I was drawn to the field education. I have a background in special education research with a focus on school dropout prevention. Through the University of Minnesota, I spent 20 plus years working with schools districts to evaluate the effectives of strategies to keep youth with learning and behavioral challenges engaged in school and on track to graduate.
This question, this concern still motivates me today. If we know that evidence-based educational opportunities, such as comprehensive early childhood, can influence whether or not a child goes on to complete high school, why are we not providing our public schools with the resources to do so? Why would our elected officials choose not to make that investment, with a known return on investment to the child and to society? Why would our elected officials mandate that students attend school through age 16 or 17, and yet set so many up for failure by withholding the tools needed for a successful educational experience --- and then blame those same teachers and students for not getting the job done?
When my family and I moved back to Kansas in 2002 and enrolled our son at Highlands Elementary, we joined the PTA and I signed up to be on the PTA Legislative Committee. Parents and teachers play a significant role in helping to support students’ educational achievements. Our elected officials determine the amount of resources that teachers and schools have to employ in the classroom. Registered Kansas voters choose the elected officials with the sole authority to properly equip our public schools with the tools to ensure that every child has equitable opportunity to achieve college and career readiness.
Advocacy begins at the polls. Why a PTA priority? Consider the primary responsibility of state government…
BE INFORMED –
Equity issue has been decided (HB2506)
- Education bill HB2506 passed last legislative session
- K12 Student Performance & Efficiency Commission – KSLegislature