January 14, 2011

Aligning Educational Systems Key to State’s Economic Development; Continued Dialogue Needed

(TOPEKA) – The Kansas P-20 Education Council recently released a final report that recommended, among other things, continued state-level dialogue focused on aligning educational systems in Kansas in order to boost the state’s economy. The Council, which was established by former-Governor Kathleen Sebelius in 2008 and continued by Governor Mark Parkinson, was comprised of 22 members representing K-12 education, postsecondary education, and the state’s business community.

“While the work of the P-20 Council clearly offers opportunities to improve and strengthen the educational system in our state, it would be a mistake not to recognize the profound impact an integrated and aligned educational system would have on building our state’s economy,” said Dr. Bill Wagnon of Topeka, former-State Board of Education Member and Co-Chair of the P-20 Council. “I believe pursuit of the Council recommendations, including a continuation of the work of the P-20 Council, will result in significant economic benefits for Kansas.”

The Council was created in response to the recognition that an integrated educational system, extending from early childhood to the workplace, is necessary to provide the high quality education and training essential to prepare Kansans for life and work in the 21st century. Traditionally each stage in the educational process (pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, elementary, high school, postsecondary education, and lifelong learning) has been considered a self-enclosed unit having little direct contact with the other sectors. Research and experience have demonstrated that effective education rests on aligning education sectors in an integrated way.

“In the past, education has focused on individual levels and the goals of those levels,” said Regent Christine Downey-Schmidt of Inman, Co-Chair of the P-20 Council. “The better approach to education is to view it as a system, focusing on integration and what is being done for the benefit of the student, versus the benefit of the system. As a result, resources can be used more effectively and efficiently. The work of this P-20 Council is a first step, and is significant. Many states, however, are farther along in the process. I’m hopeful that the necessary work of the Council will continue.”

In its final report, the P-20 Council identified the following key findings:

  •  A high school diploma is not sufficient to compete in the current or future workforce. By the year 2018, 64% of jobs in Kansas will require some type of postsecondary education. It will be necessary to provide quality education to a broad range of individuals, including returning adults, currently under-represented groups and out-of-state students. To meet emerging workforce needs, the Kansas educational system must produce a higher number of skilled workers.
  • The Kansas education system encompasses a variety of institutions and organizations. To be most effective, these institutions and organizations must collaborate and communicate routinely.
  • Today’s education system must be robust and flexible to meet the evolving demands of students, business and industry. The economic vitality of Kansas depends on a system that values continuous learning experiences across a lifetime and can respond to rapidly developing workforce needs.

The P-20 Council’s final report included the following recommendations:

  •  Continue the work of the P-20 Council through a formal process. Every state has established a P-20 Council, or similar entity, to ensure an integrated educational system, and the P-20 Council recommends Kansas do the same.• Strengthen early childhood education in Kansas using data collection and analysis to promote evidenced-based practices in educational settings, improve teacher and provider quality through coordination and collaboration, and coordinate a continuum of services and education from birth to grade three.• Continue to monitor the alignment of the P-20 educational system and identify ways to measure progress.• Include civic engagement in the future work of the P-20 Council.• Consider the establishment of regional P-20 Councils to promote economic development and address specific regional needs.

The P-20 Council’s final report can be found online at: 


About the Kansas Board of Regents:
The nine-member Kansas Board of Regents is the governing board of the state’s six universities and the statewide coordinating board for the state’s 32 public higher education institutions (seven public universities, 19 community colleges, and six technical colleges). In addition, the Board administers the state’s student financial aid, adult education, GED, and career and technical education programs. The Board also authorizes private proprietary schools and out-of-state institutions to operate in Kansas, and administers Kan-ed, a statewide network that provides broadband Internet access and distance learning capabilities for schools, hospitals, and libraries.

For more information, contact Kip Peterson at (785) 296-3421 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Visit the Kansas Board of Regents online at


About the Kansas State Department of Education:
The Kansas State Department of Education ensures the policies and programs prescribed by state law and the State Board of Education are met while providing students and educators with the necessary support in order to meet and exceed academic goals. Its mission is to provide leadership and support for public and private accredited K–12 schools in all areas including standards, assessments, nutrition, licensure and finance.

For more information, contact Kathy Toelkes at (785) 296-4876 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Visit the Kansas State Department of Education online at