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Kansas flunks school choice study

by Travis Perry
Kansas Watchdog
April 22, 2013

When it comes to school choice and giving parents the power to control their child’s education, Kansas earns a failing grade.

Earlier this month the Center for Education Reform released its annual Parent Power Index, which ranks and grades states based on parent choice in education. Overall Kansas earned a score of 59 percent, and ranked 42nd among the states, only outpacing West Virginia, South Dakota, Vermont, Alabama, Kentucky, Iowa, North Dakota and Nebraska.

“The Sunflower State has a less than sunny outlook for reform, making it more difficult for parents to find new and more effective options for their children,” according to the index. “Like other rural states, Kansas offers some access to digital learning modalities, but other than that, parents have few choices and few assurances that teacher quality is acceptable.

States were assessed on a number of different “elements of power,” including transparency, teacher quality and media reliability, among others. Here’s how scoring for the index worked out, according to EdReform.com:

Charter Schools and School Choice were weighted as 75% of the overall grade. Bonus points are calculated based on whether a state has a parent trigger law, and whether or not information on schools and school board elections are transparent, or available to the public. States earn .05 for having a parent trigger law and .01 each for transparency of schools and school board elections, for a possible bonus total of .07. Ties are broken based on choice implementation and how influential these categories are on affording parents true power. Bonus points of .05 were awarded to Alabama for its March 2013 passage of a tax credit law and to Washington for adopting a charter school law in Nov. 2013. Neither state has been graded on these elements as the programs are not operational to date.

While Kansas earned points for electing pro-education reform Gov. Sam Brownback, the state was docked for transparency and for having “one of the weakest charter laws in the country.”