Rep. Mari-Lynn Poskin touts increased funding for teachers’ scholarships | SehndeWeb

Each week during the 2022 Kansas legislative session, we will provide Shawnee Mission area lawmakers with the opportunity to share their thoughts on what is happening in the state capitol.

Below is this week’s submission from Democratic Rep. Mari-Lynn Poskin of Kansas House District 20, which covers parts of Leawood and Overland Park.

Democratic Representative Jo Ella Hoye and Democratic Senator Cindy Holscher also had the opportunity this week to submit columns.

The views expressed in each Capitol update are solely those of the legislator and do not reflect the Post’s position on any matter discussed.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week, especially to our teachers at Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley!

According to their website, “Since 1984, the National PTA has designated a week in May as a special time to honor individuals who lend their passion and skills to raising our children.”

This year, more than ever after the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, they deserve our utmost gratitude and professional respect – something glaringly absent in this year’s legislative session.

This was evident at the start of the session when, on January 26, the Kansas Teacher of the Year team spoke passionately on Capitol Hill about their profession and their positions on the many education policies proposed by the ‘Legislative Assembly.

That day, I made a commitment to make sure there was something positive to recognize teachers and address their concerns. One of the most pressing issues is that they needed reinforcements. In addition to the looming teacher shortage crisis, the Omicron variant exacerbated the already insufficient supply of substitute teachers.

Representatives Jo Ella Hoye, Jerry Stogsdill, Chuck Schmidt and I went to work on four pro-teacher bills:

  • temporarily change KPERS rules so that retired teachers can return to classrooms more quickly as substitutes (HB 2593),
  • Restoring Due Process for Teachers (HB 2671)
  • and two teacher scholarship bills (HB 2627 and HB 2626).

I am so proud to say that my bill, HB 2626, which doubles Kansas Teacher Service Scholarship credits, was passed as a budget condition and highlighted in the governor’s statement. Laura Kelly when she signed the budget bill!

Recipients of this scholarship agree to teach for one year at Kansas for each year they receive the scholarship. If they receive degrees in elementary education, English, math, science, and special education, which are identified as “hard to fill,” they can fulfill their service obligation anywhere in the state.

For other teaching degrees, they can teach in underserved geographies, which currently included $501 in Topeka, $500 in Kansas City, $259 in Wichita, and State Board of Education Area 5 covering the entire western third of the state.

To make it a reality, it took getting 36 bipartisan co-sponsors, pleading for a hearing (which you can see at 5:03 in this video) on the House Appropriations Committee as many vied for a share of the budget surplus and gain the Ways and Means executive support of the Senate to ensure it survives the conference committee process.

Since these scholarships prioritize juniors and seniors, the increased funding will engage teachers in our Kansas classrooms in just a few years.

Current Education students, the priority deadline for the scholarship is June 1. Please apply here. Teachers, reinforcements are on the way!

My husband, David, and I have a blended family of seven children, who have spent 90 years learning in K-12 classrooms, 62 of them in Kansas public schools.

We are so happy with the adults they have become, living dreams that were hatched and nurtured in classrooms with amazing teachers, like a love for math that resulted in a PhD, cultural and linguistic interests that morphed into Fulbright scholarship and international business ventures, and scientific predilections cultivated in medical careers. Thanks, teachers!

So please… be sure to #ThankATeacher this week. For ideas on how to do this, check out the PTA’s National Teacher Appreciation Week Toolkit.

It is such an honor to represent Kansas House 20, especially our dedicated and awesome teachers.

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