Wichita State defends Koch-funded school amid criticism

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials at Wichita State University say a new private school being financed by members of the Koch family is a good fit for the university's campus.

Chase and Annie Koch announced they're financing a new private pre-K-through-12th-grade school called Wonder on Wichita State's campus, the Wichita Eagle reported .

"The fact that there are now hundreds of people talking about how educational content is delivered is pretty exciting," said Lou Heldman, the university's vice president for strategic communications.

Critics of the proposed school said the public university that receives state funding shouldn't be the site of an exclusive private school. The school can't accurately test education strategies unless it includes children of all abilities and financial means, said Steve Wentz, president of United Teachers of Wichita.

"If you want to live in your gated community, fine, but don't think that gives you a picture of the real world," Wentz said.

The school is "all for working together to expand access to benefit more students," said Zach Lahn, co-founder of Wonder. He said that Wonder plans to eventually have at least 25 percent of its students on scholarships or financial aid.

"To those who have new and innovative ideas on how we can bring this to more students, especially students in public schools, please, reach out," he said. "We want to work with you to find solutions."

The Kochs are investing about $1.1 million in a former print shop on the east side of the university's campus, according to a lease agreement.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com


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