Q and A with Sebelius and Barnett
What do you think of the quality of the state technical and vocational schools, and what changes would you support as far as their governance, funding and mission?
Jim Barnett: "Our state technical and vocational schools have provided a tremendous, positive impact in the lives of graduates and to the Kansas economy.
"As a physician, I have had several graduates from Kansas technical schools work in my clinic and have been impressed with their high quality of training and knowledge. As businesses look to expand or relocate, it is vitally important to have a highly trained work force ready for the challenges of our changing economy.
"The changes made in 2003 giving the technical schools their own governing boards have worked well. Unfortunately, the funding formula, with roughly 85 percent of costs coming from state sources and 15 percent from tuition, has been underfunded by the state during recent years.
"The schools should remain focused on the mission of providing technical and academic courses to prepare students for employment and advancement in technical careers. We should continue to work toward a seamless system allowing students to transfer credits between vocational and technical schools, community colleges and our state universities.
"I would like to encourage more direct involvement from businesses in the communities where the schools are located. Technical and vocational schools should continue to play a vital role in preparing Kansans of all ages for the changing job market."
Kathleen Sebelius: "Kansas is blessed with many great public universities, community colleges and vocational training schools. Unfortunately, when I first took office, higher education was not getting enough support. The previous administration and the Legislature had made a promise to these schools but had not met it for three years. That's changed since I took office, as we've increased support for higher education and led efforts to expand students' access to these important institutions.
"I'm proud to say we've been able to increase support for vo-tech and community colleges by 24 percent during my administration. These schools give Kansans the instruction and training they need to get better jobs, which is why we'll continue to support these institutions in the coming years and why we'll continue to help more students further their education.
"Education beyond high school is the only way our children will be able to compete and prosper in the 21st century. Our community colleges and vo-tech schools require the support of the state and the governor if our children are to succeed. That's why I've been a strong supporter of their mission during my service as governor, and it's why I will continue to work with these institutions to ensure our students go on to become part of our state's excellent work force."