Schools For Quality Education (SQE) is an organization comprised of over 100 rural school districts throughout the State of Kansas. SQE was formed with the five following purposes:
- to provide quality educational opportunities for all children of Kansas
- to oppose further Kansas unified school district consolidation without the approval of the patrons involved
- to pursue the quality of excellence in education
- to give identity, voice, and exposure to the particular quality of rural schools
- to enhance the quality of life unique in the rural community
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High School students from Bucklin and Palco Travel to State Capitol to Meet with Legislators
For Immediate Release Contact: John Polzar
Wednesday, March 26, 2015 (785) 925-6139
(TOPEKA) – On Monday, March 23, students from Bucklin and Palco High Schools went to the state capitol to meet with legislators and discuss issues impacting them and their communities.
The students travelled to Topeka as part of a program sponsored by Schools for Quality Education, a Kansas organization comprised of 100 rural school districts, to encourage students to get involved in their state government. The program provides students the opportunity to research important issues impacting their communities and schools and deliver that information to their state representatives.
Bucklin students Jac Curtis, Adam Carr, Cole Hailey, Tanner Collins and Colton Downy met with lawmakers to discuss campaign finance reform, anti-discrimination policies, Senate Bill 56 which seeks to eliminate the affirmative defense for teachers and legislation that would tax agricultural land at a higher rate.
Jac Curtis discussed campaign finance reform. Curtis commented on how the increased amount of money flowing into politics threatens a true representative democracy as politicians become more reliant and beholden to large contributors. Jac met with Rep. John Ewy (R-Jetmore), Senator Vicki Schmidt (R-Topeka), Rep. Susie Swanson (R-Clay Center) and Rep. Diana Dierks (R-Salina).
Adam Carr talked about anti-discrimination policies and the recent rescission of an Executive Order that protected state employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Carr mentioned that eliminating anti-discrimination policies is backwards thinking when you think about how times are changing. Adam visited with Rep. Susan Concannon (R-Beliot) and Senator Marci Francisco (D-Lawrence).
Students Cole Hailey, Tanner Collins and Colton Downey talked about SB 56 which would remove certain protections for teachers from prosecution for materials they use in course work that some may find offensive and legislation introduced this year which would change the way agricultural land is taxed.
The students told lawmakers that “our teachers do a good job of preparing us for the future” and SB 56 would have a chilling effect on the way educators teach. In regards to the ag tax legislation, the students pointed out that there is already a trend of people leaving rural communities and dramatically increasing taxes on ag land will make the situation worse.
Overall, the students found the experience eye-opening and left them with hope that legislators will listen to their concerns. As Adam Carr noted, “This shows other kids that we are the future of the state. That there are people that care about what we want to say.”
The group of Palco students had a chance to visit with lawmakers at the School for Quality Education’s annual legislative luncheon. All in all it was a good day for the students and showed that the future of state and our rural communities will be in good hands.
The Bucklin and Palco students were accompanied by Dr. Kelly Arnberger, Superintendent of Bucklin schools and Dewann Seacat member of USD 459 school board. The Palco students were accompanied by Larry Lysell, Superintendent of Palco schools, and Tom Benoit, member of the USD 269 school board and president of Schools for Quality Education.
“I want as many people in the Capitol to show that the students of rural America, of western Kansas, are bright, articulate and deserve to be supported financially and academically. We shouldn’t underestimate these young people,” Arnberger said.
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Rural students converge on Capitol full of ideas, criticism
By Aly Van Dyke