KASB Countdown to Conference: 1980s saw changes by some in perception of public education

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

The 1980s saw major changes in KASB and also changes in the way some viewed public school education.

In October, 1981, KASB was part of the first meeting ever in Kansas of the executive and elected leadership of the state’s major education associations, which led to formation of a coalition called the Confidence in Kansas Public Education Task Force. The task force worked for years on many education improvements.

In 1982, KASB Executive Director Dr. McGhehey died of a heart attack after 21 years of service to the organization. McGhehey’s death marked the end of an era where KASB was transformed into a major association and advocate for students and schools. Dr. K.D. Moran, who had been the assistant and then associate executive director, was appointed acting executive director.

A year later, John Koepke was named executive director after having served as director of publications, assistant and then associate executive director and the association’s main lobbyist.

Also in 1983, the national report “A Nation at Risk, which was highly critical of public school education was released.

And in the “Some Things Never Change Department,” in 1985, the theme of the annual KASB convention was “Choices in Schools: What’s Ahead and What to Do.” Here is the notice: “Efforts are now under way on both the state and national level to broaden parents’ choices in schools. Public school leaders are under the gun to show what they are doing and planning to do about choices. How will you answer the demand from parents and community for greater choice in education?”

In 1987, KASB established a group-funded workers’ compensation pool and the following year, KASB formed its education services department and appointed a committee to study school finance and another committee on sex education.

As the decade ended, KASB approved plans to purchase 3.25 acres in west Topeka as a site for a new building. A few years later, however, KASB decided to purchase the building it is currently in.

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