Kansas State Board of Education

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

The classroom and workplace have traditionally been kept separate.

But a redesign that’s been going on for four years in Kansas could blend the two in ways aimed to help both students and employers.

Employers are now a common sight in school hallways. Mechanics show seventh graders how to diagnose a Jeep in the school parking lot. Eighth graders visit boiler factories. Schools hope to benefit from field-earned expertise. Businesses get a head start on recruiting.

National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health

Vaping at Kansas schools is reaching epidemic proportions, prompting the Kansas State Board of Education to launch a concerted campaign against it.

“This thing hit us like a tsunami,” said Jeff Hersh, assistant superintendent at Goddard Public Schools. “Quite honestly it’s very alarming.”

A teenager wakes up, gets ready for school. Slips a smartphone into her pocket on the way out the door.

Her day may well include some biology or chemistry, history, algebra, English and Spanish. It likely won’t include lessons on how that smartphone — more powerful than the computers aboard the Apollo moon missions — and its myriad colorful apps actually work.

Tinker Air Force Base

The new reality of smoking at Kansas high schools is visible in the parking lots, where used-up Juul pods have taken the place of cigarette butts.

“You can pick up the discarded Juul cartridges all over the concrete,” Andover High School school resource officer Heath Kintzel said of the popular vaping brand. “It’s everywhere.”

Chris Neal of Shooter Imaging / Kansas News Service

Simplistic crisis plans and missing mandatory training by some Kansas schools led the Kansas Board of Education on Tuesday to reinforce its suicide prevention requirements.

Suicide rates in the United States have been going up for years, but the rates have risen faster in Kansas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Kansas suicide rate increased by 45 percent from 1999 to 2016.

Stephan Bisaha

Wichita Public Schools Board of Education voted 6-1 to ask the State Board of Education for the authority to raise local tax rates.

The Wichita board called the request a safety net in case the state legislature does not provide the funding the district says it needs.

"I can tell you after five straight years of cutting budgets I'm not going to do it again," said board vice president Mike Rodee. 

If approved, the board would not have to raise the tax rate. But it would have the flexibility to do so if the board feels it's necessary.

Most Kansas students graduate high school nowadays. Yet many still struggle with the skills of reading and writing.

Now a task force of educators, parents and lawmakers hopes to help close that gap.

Over the past half year, the Dyslexia Task Force put together recommendations and this month handed them off to the Kansas State Board of Education.

The group’s work is well worth paying attention to. It could change reading instruction for every public school student in the state.

Stephan Bisaha/Source: Kansas State Department of Education

Kansas' teacher shortage is growing worse.

The latest numbers from the Kansas State Department of Education for fall 2018 show 612 teaching positions remain unfilled by a qualified teacher. That's up from the 513 vacant positions from the same time last year.

According to the state, one possible explanation for the shortage is that schools have become less reluctant to report their vacancies.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service/File photo

Kansas schools are still struggling to hire teachers.

There are more than 600 vacant teaching positions in Kansas, nearly 100 more than in the fall of 2017. Special education and elementary positions have the largest number of vacancies.

The Kansas State Board of Education received the update on Tuesday from the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee. The main reason for the open positions is a lack of applicants or qualified applicants.

woodleywonderworks / flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas State Board of Education approved new standards Tuesday for students learning English as a second language.

The changes come as the number of students learning English grows in the state. Kansas Department of Education statistics show they made up nearly 12 percent of students in 2017.

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