KASB Executive Director Blog - Dr. John Heim

KASB Executive Director Blog - Dr. John Heim

When it comes to COVID-19, schools must learn, adapt, evolve and grow

Back in January of this year, reports were trickling out of China about a new virus. News like this is hard on the office hypochondriac and immediately people began to tease me about exhibiting symptoms. In late January, we still only had one case in the U.S. Even in late February it had not affected most of our lives to any substantial degree. A problem like a novel virus is by definition, adaptive. We must learn as new data presents itself. We must study the issue, watch the data, and change, evolve, and adapt. That is what we have...

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There will be time for critical analysis; for now let’s give grace

If one picks back through the sedimentary layers of educational gurus, one who stands out in my mind is Larry Lezotte. Lezotte and his colleagues identified the seven correlates of effective schools that we still use today. Lezotte often said that schools are designed to perform three basic functions: 1. Custodial care of students, 2. Sorting and selecting students and 3. Teaching and learning. He often lamented that the public generally prioritizes these functions in that order. He philosophized that if we focused on teaching and learning, we would have greater success at eliminating the achievement gap and improve learning...

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I love a parade! Lessons from a crisis

Suffering from quarantine-fever this week, my dog Miss Pinkerton and I went for a walk through the neighborhood. As we meandered around the first corner, we were excited to see that the whole community had come out to greet us. I had my headphones on, so I couldn’t hear what folks were saying, and just assumed they were shouting salutations our way. It was amazing that these folks knew I had been a teacher back in 1983, as they were holding signs exclaiming their love for teachers. Shot down again, I soon realized this outpouring of support wasn’t for Pinky...

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College students today want what we had

Mark Tallman has published extensively on the effects of post-secondary education on student economic success, and therefore the state’s economic success. We know that students who do not go on to post-secondary earn significantly less than their peers. Nationally, some politicians have advocated for free tuition for all, while at the state level, states like Wyoming and Georgia have implemented free tuition programs for students who meet academic standards. At the local level, Neodesha got national attention when their foundation announced that all students would have the opportunity to receive post-secondary tuition. Over the course of just a few generations, post-secondary...

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How can we best serve at-risk children?

Recently, I was arguing education with a friend (and winning) when he went low with “you’ve been out of it too long, you don’t understand.” Ouch! For a person who spent 27 years as a teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent that seemed like a low blow. Upon reflection, in my 10 years as Executive Director at KASB, my connection to the classroom has greatly diminished. I had fallen victim to the age-old belief that schools, and classrooms, are exactly what they were when I was in them. The most recent public example of this can be seen in the Legislative...

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Education is political but politics doesn’t have to be ugly

It turns out your mom was right -- one shouldn’t discuss politics and religion in polite society. Of course, in my Russell County family, politics, religion and the price of wheat, cattle, and oil, are the only discussions I remember. It seems we are in a place now where those two topics – religion and politics -- are not only discussed but are used as a filter to categorize everyone into camps. It has become so prevalent that my apolitical wife asked me recently, “When did education become so political?” And now she’s sorry she ever asked this political...

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The question of how to best serve at-risk children is challenging

Recently, I was arguing education with a friend (and winning) when he went low with “you’ve been out of it too long, you don’t understand.” Ouch! For a person who spent 27 years as a teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent that seemed like a low blow. Upon reflection, in my ten years as Executive Director at KASB, my connection to the classroom has greatly diminished. I had fallen victim to the age-old belief that schools, and classrooms, are exactly what they were when I was in them. The most recent public example of this can be seen in the Legislative...

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Kids today face challenges we didn’t

Usually, negative feedback about my column comes from internal sources. A certain individual in the KASB Advocacy Department dismisses my monthly musings with snarky mentions of “your little blog” or “I’m sure that appeals to someone.” Even former superintendents must have thick skin so these roll off my back. Last month though, criticism came from a highly placed education official and it stung. Word got back to me that this individual said my work was “not up to par.” Naturally, I was ready to strike back with snide comment about lame-o Talk-o-Tuesdays. And then it got ugly. Emails and texts...

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A look back: 1969 is déjà vu all over again

When your editor is Scott Rothschild and you miss a deadline, you had better have a good excuse. So, when I received a gentle reminder over the weekend that my column was due, followed almost immediately by President Kimball’s completed assignment, the pressure was on. Fortunately, I was stuck in an airport, flight canceled, with nothing to do. Unfortunately, this particular weekend, the news was filled with reports of the death of Peter Fonda, and the 50th anniversary of a concert at Yasgur’s farm. These two distractions created an unquenchable desire to re-watch “Easy Rider,” the iconic motorcycle movie from...

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Judge Bullock: A central figure in Kansas education who was fair, strong, kind, thoughtful and epitomized Kansans Can outcomes

Kansas lost a great man recently. Reading the obituary of Judge Terry Bullock was enlightening to me, because I only knew him as a strong, fair minded, kind and thoughtful advocate for the constitution of Kansas. His obituary reveals more depth. Seeing him in his courtroom trappings one wouldn’t know he had a family, loved music, and cared about his community. I intended this remembrance to be about how Judge Bullock’s decisions affected the direction of Kansas education. How he was able to sort through the chaff with a brilliant legal mind, and express those decisions with statements like, “Money...

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