‘Chat and Chili’ event lets teachers, legislators discuss Kansas education over chili

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Kansas lawmakers filled up on chili awhile filling people in on their education policy plans during the annual Chat and Chili event Thursday night.

The Kansas National Education Association has put on the Chat and Chili event for the last eight years.

It allows people to meet their representatives – in a casual setting while they eat chili together.

“It’s a dialogue, which is what you need in a democracy, it’s a chance for us to engage in a non-intimidating environment,” said Phillip Wrigley, a Topeka High School teacher.

“They wanna know what we think is going to be happening with education funding, KPERS, the governor’s budget,” Said Rep. Brenda Dietrich (R).

It gives people the chance to listen in on future plans for Kansas education, but it also allows them to ask questions too.

“Anything that’s going on in this session that’s education-related that helps us know what to expect,” said David Fernkopf, a Santa Fe Trails administrator.

“They just want the opportunity to see you and to talk to you without having to go to the capitol,” Dietrich said.

Many of the people who came out to Topeka High’s cafeteria are either teachers themselves – or currently working in education.

“It’s great to hear what they have to say but it’s also great to have their listening ear to ask any questions and tell them what’s on our mind and what’s going on inside the classrooms,” Fernkopf said.

With the eighth annual event in the books – people are already looking forward to next year.

“There are amazing people here and there are people who care about things that matter and they care about the little people that matter,” Wrigley said.

About 20 area legislators were invited and around half of them were able to make it to the event.

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