KNEA vice president advocates well-rounded education at LAC event
Karen Godfrey, Vice President of the Kansas National Education Association, spoke Tuesday night at the Lumberyard Arts Center to educate the public on the education system in Kansas.
KNEA is an organization of about 25,000 educators across the state, which can include teachers, administrators and anyone who works for a school district.
“Our mission is to have great public schools for every child,” Godfrey said.
Her program, “Education in Kansas: Will it Flourish or Flounder?,” concentrated on the needs of 21st century students, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and No Child Left Behind Act, and education finances.
“We’re really looking to help people see what would be good changes in (the No Child Left Behind Act) and what would be some changes that are maybe not such a good idea,” Godfrey said.
Paula Johnson, a volunteer for the Lumberyard Arts Center program committee, thought Godfrey was a good choice as a speaker because of education being in the news lately and because of Godfrey’s experience in the teaching field.
“She not only knows what the business part of it is now, she is trying from a teachers standpoint to get things back where they belong in Kansas,” Johnson said. “She wants the students to get the best they can get, she wants the teachers to have the best they can get, and she wants the communities to support that.”
Kansas State Rep. Terri Lois Gregory attended the presentation in hopes to better understand how funding in the education system is a factor for districts and what needs to happen for the Kansas education system to flourish. Gregory said she attended with an open mind.
“I try to not go with an agenda. I like to just listen and see what they’re presenting and I always pick up a business card so if I can ask any questions that may not have been answered,” Gregory said.
One of Godfrey’s main concerns with the ESEA and No Child Left Behind Act reauthorization was the importance the acts have previously placed on standardized and state testing.
“There’s a lot of emphasis on things like ‘let’s just judge teachers by their test scores,’” Godfrey said. “We don’t want to ignore test scores, but that is a pretty limited way to look at a teacher.”
She thinks that a well-rounded education should also include an emphasis on programs such as art music and physical education instead of teachers preparing students for a specific test.
“What is it we need to do in order to have a strong education system in our state,” Godfrey said. “We need to make it happen and there are a lot of conflicting ideas about it.”
Godfrey’s presentation is the first of what the Lumberyard Arts Center’s program committee hopes to be a monthly program at the center.
“We are going to try to have something going on here the second Tuesday of every month. It may be a speaker, it may be an auction — we don’t know. We are just trying to come up with things that will bring people to the Arts Center,” Johnson said.