I traveled to Hutchinson on Wednesday to speak at the Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas (ESSDACK) Superintendents Council Meeting. ESSDACK is an educational service center that provides staff development activities for Kansas educators. Each month, about 50 school superintendents from throughout Central Kansas meet in person and by video teleconference to discuss educational issues and share best practices. I appreciated the opportunity to visit with this large group of public school leaders about a wide range of education policy issues, including the outlook for reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB); President Obama's recent announcement that the Department of Education will waive certain NCLB requirements for states in exchange for the states adopting certain policy changes; and Kansas educators' concerns with the burdensome mandates and unrealistic standards of current federal law.
Congress needs to pass legislation completely rewriting NCLB, passage of which I opposed in 2002 because I believe the law created a "one-size-fits-all" federally-mandated approach to education that is not the best approach for Kansas students, parents, teachers and administrators. The federal government should afford Kansas schools sufficient flexibility to tailor education plans to the unique needs of Kansas students. Thank you to Dr. Mike Cook, executive director of ESSDACK and national president of the Association of Educational Service Agencies, for inviting me to this meeting and to ESSDACK staff for coordinating my visit.