Daily Archives: Jan. 20, 2013

Brownback overstated reading problem

In calling for a new reading initiative, Gov. Sam Brownback said in his State of the State address last week that “29 percent of Kansas fourth-graders can’t read at a basic level.” That’s not correct. Brownback’s statistic came from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress survey. But as Lawrence Journal-World education reporter Peter Hancock explained, the sole purpose of NAEP is to see how students in one state compare with those in other states. “It is very specifically not intended to be used as a measure of how any given student measures up against an objective standard of what kids should know at certain grades, which is what the governor attempted to do in his speech,” Hancock wrote. Such an objective standard is provided by the Kansas state assessments, which in 2012 showed that 11.9 percent of fourth-graders failed to meet the state standard in reading. That’s still a significant number, but far less than 29 percent. Hancock also noted that the 2011 NAEP results ranked Kansas 10th best in the nation for the percent of fourth-graders who scored proficient or better on NAEP’s reading test.

New judges, assignments at District Court

As the Legislature debates judicial-selection reform for the appellate courts, the Sedgwick County District Court is going through major change as well. Two newly elected judges, Dave Dahl and Steve Ternes, were both assigned to family law. Judges Tim Henderson, Eric Commer and Eric Yost are the newly assigned presiding judges in juvenile, family law and probate, respectively, and the Probate Department has relocated from the Courthouse to the Juvenile Courthouse, 1900 E. Morris. And more change is coming, in the wake of Gov. Sam Brownback’s appointment of Judge Tony Powell to the Kansas Court of Appeals; the governor will accept applications and name Powell’s replacement. It was surprising to see Judge Richard Ballinger reassigned from probate to civil, given how Eagle letter writers and others cited his expertise and long tenure as presiding probate judge in supporting his successful re-election bid in November. Ballinger recently told The Eagle editorial board that the change was not his preference. Chief Judge James Fleetwood said Friday that the probate changes make for a “more efficient use of staff and supervisory personnel” and that Yost had some impressive and creative ideas for how to manage resources. “I am convinced it’s a good move,” Fleetwood said.

So they said

“That’s not the response I get on MSNBC.” – Rep. Tim Huelskamp (in photo), R-Fowler, getting a standing ovation at the recent Big First District Republican Party meeting in McPherson

“There’s no getting along with the president of the United States – you have to beat him.” – Huelskamp again, pledging not to back down on the debt ceiling or other fiscal crises

“When they finally took all the wallboards down I thought, ‘Wow, this really looks like a nice place – $300 million can still buy you something.’ Sore subject.” – Gov. Sam Brownback, joking with legislators about Capitol renovation

“The governor proposes and the Legislature perfects.” – Brownback’s budget director, Steve Anderson, on the state budget process