WHITEWATER — Education is a big deal to Tim Bumgarner. He started teaching in 1996 and has been the principal of Frederic Remington High School for the past 11 years.
Bumgarner will share his thoughts on schooling during "Education in Kansas: How it all started, where it has been and where it might be going?" The presentation, sponsored by the Frederic Remington Area Historical Society, will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 at Frederic Remington High School, 8850 NW Meadowlark Rd in Whitewater.
Bumgarner will speak about the history of schools in Kansas.
"We started education, particularly in Kansas, and the idea behind public education was you had all these people — immigrants — coming from all over," Bumgarner said. "The idea was to give them a common background; that they had all at least been educated the same and been given a common knowledge."
In the 1800s, requirements for school attendance were much different than they are today.
"Compulsory attendance was from age 8 to 14," Bumgarner said. "...But, if they were physically or mentally handicapped, they were exempt."
The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 gave special needs children access to public education alongside their peers.
"There was no special education for the longest time," Bumgarner said. "...It took us almost a hundred years to finally decide that we needed to do something for special needs students."
Bumgarner will highlight major events that impacted schools such as the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka U.S. Supreme Court case in his presentation, and touch on the political aspects of education.
"(Politicians) talk about it a lot, but they don't always know a whole lot," Bumgarner said.
In the early 1900s, not many students graduated from high school.
"The percentage of people who finished high school kind of follows the decade," Bumgarner said. "In the 1920s, only about 20 percent of the population finished high school."
In the mid-1900s, having a high school degree became a requirement for many factory jobs.
"The current design that we have in school was designed to get kids ready to work in factories," Bumgarner said. "That's why we have bells and (school) starts at this time and ends at this time — you're punching a clock."
While one-room schools were consolidated to form city-based high schools, not every facet of education from the past century has changed.
"We still have a calendar that's designed around agriculture," Bumgarner said. "There's no reason for kids not to go to school in the summertime."
Standards for teachers continually shifted over the years.
"By the early 1990s, we had Quality Performance Accreditation, that's when high-stakes testing came in," Bumgarner said. "Everything depended on how well your kids did on state assessments."
Instead of simply teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, today's schools are expected to instill more than book learning in their students.
"There's a pretty big shift," Bumgarner said. "We're being asked to do a lot."
School curriculum in recent years focused in preparing students for college, but only a third go on to complete a four-year degree, Bumgarner noted. In response, more schools are working to guide their students in making decisions about what they want to do after graduation — which may include attending a technical school, earning and associates degree, going into military, completing certifications or going directly into employment.
"We're starting to do a lot of things now that are career-focused," Bumgarner said.
Bumgarner will also look at what is currently happening in education in Kansas, including efforts to track students after graduation to gauge their success.
"The state of Kansas has invested 13 years into their education — 14 years, if they started in preschool — there ought to be something to show for that," Bumgarner said.
Attendees will have a chance to ask questions after the presentation.
"I really hope they take the opportunity to ask questions about what we do," Bumgarner said. "...We have a lot of great people who do a lot of great things with our kids. The people who work in this building are amazing."