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  • Writer's pictureTim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector

Kansas places into state law blueprint for reforming K-12 instruction in reading

Updated: May 8

Gov. Laura Kelly signed bipartisan legislation creating a new K-12 and university program to improve reading literacy. The image is of supporters of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library hosting a table inside the Kansas Capitol. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Gov. Kelly also signs railcar parking, employment disability and suicide bills

By Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly affirmed in law Wednesday a flurry of bills on reading literacy, employing people with disabilities, parking railroad cars adjacent to intersections and creating the crime of egging on someone to commit suicide.

The Kansas Blueprint for Literacy legislation would amend teacher education programs to improve classroom instruction in reading. The work would adhere to evidence-based research on phonemic awareness, phonetics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

The bipartisan bill would align higher education and K-12 resources to retrain Kansas educators in the science of reading, structured literacy, literacy screening and assessment tools. It directed the Kansas Board of Regents, which has oversight responsibilities for state universities, to appoint a director of literacy education and create a literacy committee.

“This bill places Kansas at the forefront of nationwide efforts to reform reading instruction and expands on the progress we have been making to prioritize literacy throughout a child’s academic journey,” Kelly said.

Sen. Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, said the Blueprint for Reading would be a collaborative effort to establish “a clear pathway for our current and future educators to be appropriately trained to teach Kansas students to read.”

The measure appropriated $10 million to the Kansas Board of Regents for the cost of training of teachers in reading and preparing them to earn a reading science credential. Centers for Excellence in Reading would be established at the six state universities to provide assessment and diagnosis of reading difficulties, train in-service and pre-service educators through the use of simulation labs, and support school-based instructional coaches.

Cynthia Lane, a member of the state Board of Regents and the former superintendent of public schools in Kansas City, Kansas, said the Blueprint for Literacy would prove to be one of the most important bills approved by the Legislature and governor during the 2024 session.

“Our students’ ability to read is fundamental to their life’s success, in their academic career and in their life beyond school,” Lane said.


The other piece of the bill would mandated formation by the Board of Regents of a Literacy Advisory Committee with 15 voting members responsible for monitoring progress of the literacy campaign.

“By aligning the efforts of K-12 and higher education to train our educators in the science of reading, we intend to end the literacy divide for our students once and for all,” said Melanie Haas, chairwoman of the Kansas State Board of Education.

Meanwhile, the Democratic governor signed Senate Bill 333 to establish an employment preference for persons with disabilities for state jobs.

She signed into law House Bill 2144, which added to the state’s criminal code the crime of encouraging another person to attempt or commit suicide. The same bill authorized allowed Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach to prosecute retail thefts perpetrated by alleged organized crime factions in two or more counties.

Under House Bill 2501 signed by Kelly, railroads must store train cars a minimum of 250 feet from certain railroad crossings to improve public safety and reduce problems with crossings blocked by railcars.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Kansas Reflector. The Kansas Reflector is a non-profit online news organization serving Kansas. For more information on the organization, go to its website at

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