KASB Executive Director Blog - Dr. John Heim

KASB Executive Director Blog - Dr. John Heim

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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First day brings anxiety for some kids

In my 10 years as executive director of KASB, I have written many times about back to school. It is such an exciting time. Even those of us who had to buy our jeans in the Sears Husky Department looked forward to new school clothes, notebooks, and a full box of unbroken crayons. I wonder if those crayons still smell like they did 50 years ago? The first day of school is exciting, but it can be scary too. Our family moved a lot when we were growing up. For a 10-year-old pudgy kid a new school is an intimidating...

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Now is not the time to get over-cautious

As education leaders, we have recently become more aware of how trauma affects children, their learning, and well-being. This is one of the great new knowledge sets of my lifetime in education. We should also consider that trauma affects school leaders as well. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, educators have lived through some trauma in the past 10-12 years. Who can forget the trauma of the years following 2008 when state aid payments were questionable, and school leaders were faced with laying off staff and cutting programs they knew were good for kids? One reaction to living through hard times...

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Ordinary work of board can be extraordinary

The deadline for throwing your hat in the ring for fall school board elections is fast approaching. The pay is terrible, the hours can be long, and the challenges great. But the intrinsic rewards are beyond compare. As you contemplate the possibilities, consider some advice from history. Over 30 years ago, I accepted the job of principal at Ell-Saline Junior-Senior High School in Brookville. Having taken all the appropriate coursework, I was theoretically prepared for anything but practically ready for nothing. This is not a knock on the fine institutions or professors responsible for my training, it is simply because you...

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