KASB Countdown to Conference: Modern education began in the ’60s

In the run up to the 100th annual KASB Conference, Dec. 1-3 in Wichita, KASB will overview highlights of education history.

Much of what public education in Kansas is today, got its start in the 1960s. 

Major changes on the national and state level and in KASB occurred during that decade and continue to shape our public schools. 

During the 1960s, consolidation hit Kansas like a tsunami, federal court decisions upended the status quo and educational TV and computerization ushered in the modern age of information sharing.  

In 1960, Kansas had 2,000 school districts and KASB existed on a budget of $7,500 with only 161 member boards of education. 

In 1961, KASB employed its first full-time director, Dr. Marion McGhehey. 

In 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an official prayer in public school was unconstitutional; a decision that generated so much interest, KASB provided copies to members of the court’s opinion for 25 cents to cover copy costs and postage. 

In 1963, the state Unification Act started mandatory school district consolidation. Within three years, the number of districts decreased from 1,655 to 340. 

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which made the federal government a major player in K-12 education across the country. 

The following year, Kansas voters approved the foundation of today’s K-12 system by amending Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution to switch general supervision of schools from a state superintendent to an elected State Board of Education, replace county superintendents with elected boards and direct the Legislature to make suitable provision for finance.  

In 1967, an appointed commissioner of education replaced the state superintendent position and Dale Dennis started working at the Kansas State Department of Education where he continues to work today as deputy commissioner and is a key player in school finance. 

By the end of the decade – 1969 —  KASB had to buy new office space for its growing staff at 1237 Fillmore in Topeka and KASB’s Constitution was amended into its modern form by dividing the state into 10 regions and providing for an executive committee, which included the president, president-elect and past president.  


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