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A new game in town for public education
A group of Shawnee Mission parents has organized to get parents involved in education, especially with a focus on understanding what is happening in the state legislature and acting on that information.
Game On emerged from Belinder Elementary where a small number of parents started meeting with their state representatives and school board member nearly four years ago. The focus of the meetings was to get informed about the legislative activity, how it affected education (specifically the Shawnee Mission district) and how that information could be translated to parents so they could act on it.
Judith Deedy came up with the name Game On as a way to make it appealing to parents.
“Parents like to cheer,” she says.
Game On tries to simplify the information and make it accessible to parents who don’t necessary want to be political, according to Deedy. Parents aren’t apathetic, she says, but it is hard to grasp the school funding formula, the lawsuits that affect schools finance, the intricacies of legislation especially with the misinformation that is passed around. “How to get parents at Belinder engaged and make it appealing” was the group’s original mission.
But Game On has spread outside of Belinder (Belinder Parents for Quality Education originally), does not want to be exclusive and is trying to engage parents across the district. The focus now is on school funding because that is the most important issue, Deedy says, and consequently the legislature is important. But they also have positions on other issues they are watching including vouchers, judicial selection, third grade retention and the constitutional definition of suitable financing of education.
Game On now meets monthly at the Matt Ross community center in Overland Park and sends out regular updates. Since it endorsed candidates this year – something the district and PTAs can’t do – Deedy says they needed to not be meeting in school facilities. The endorsements were not without some pain, she admits, because there was pushback from some candidates and supporters on the choices. But, she says, they will probably keep doing it because lots of people appreciated the vetting for pro-educaton positions. Game On can be “a little uncomfortable,” she says, because (we) are saying things that are “absolutely true.”
A concern of Game On is the influence on education and legislators of the Kansas Policy Institute and its positions and information.
What is happening does make a difference in our schools, Deedy says, pointing to class size as one example. Parents and others who want to connect with Game On can sign up for e-mails here.