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On Link between school funding, performance debated


MerriAnnie Smith 4 years, 3 months ago

Is Trabert suggesting that taking a failing child out of the public school system and putting him into a For Profit or Religious school will make him pass?

Of course it won't. It will only make the church or the company that runs the schools richer.

What is needed more than anything is a program that helps parents help their children. We desperately need that. For Profit schools and Religious schools not only don't do that, either... they won't even accept a failing child.

Giving people a reason to hope will work a miracle in encouraging them to work hard toward success, and they will also be encouraged to help their children.

But giving people a reason for hope does not come cheap.

Trabert (and his boss the Koch brothers) have one goal in mind - demolish public schools and put most of the students into For Profit schools. What will happen is that most of the failing children will not be accepted, therefore we will continue to need a public school just for failing students. And soon, you can imagine, there will be nearly no tax dollars going to the public schools for failing students. And teachers who have the most to offer will not work in the public schools when that happens.

It's a lose/lose proposition for students and for education in this state.

The way it is now, good teachers do try to help the poor students. It is working fairly well. It could work even better if there was, as I said, a special effort to get the parents involved in the schooling. Right now, the whole burden of trying to encourage parents is on the teachers. Some of those teachers are really not that good at encouraging parents while treating them with respect at the same time. You can bet if it was a For Profit school, the failing student would simply be kicked out.

The Kansas education status, then,will improve for the wealthier children who come from homes with well-educated parents, and it will drop like a ton of bricks for all the other children in this state.

Remember, it is not the student's fault if his or her parents are not willing or able to help him.

Claudean McKellips 4 years, 3 months ago

Why is the Kansas Legislature listening to AFP/Koch instead of constituents? www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/06/dai...

Dave Trabert 4 years, 3 months ago

MerrieAnnie completely mischaracterizes our efforts to improve public education.

We are focused on meeting student needs and closing achievement gaps for low income students. Unfortunately, the wants of institutions has taken priority over student needs in Kansas. For years, institutional interests insisted that Kansas had very high achievement. But now, Diane DeBacker agrees with KPI that there is a very large achievement gap for low income students –and the gap is getting worse.

She also agreed that our data on student achievement and total funding are accurate. Dr. DeBacker has a task force studying the achievement problem in search of solutions. More money, however, isn't the answer. The Legislature increased aid for low income students by seven-fold between 2005 and 2013, yet the gap is getting wider.

Low income students are just as capable of learning as others; they just haven’t had equal opportunities to learn. MerrieAnnie et al will likely continue their ad hominem attacks. We'll keep working to create a better quality of life for low income students and their families.

You can read my full presentation at http://www.kansaspolicy.org/PressRoom/Testimony/d114868.aspx?type=view

Andrew Dufour 4 years, 3 months ago

This is twice that you've said "more money isn't the answer" but your argument leading to that statement has nothing to do with funding. You mentioned above that we have a racial achievement gap and that "more money isn't the answer" how does the existence of a racial achievement gap or even an income achievement gap prove that funding isn't the answer.

Further if we want to get into a discussion of the achievement gap in public schools or any school for that matter I would argue that it has little to do with the merits of public education or specifically Kansas' ability to educate its students. There is a serious problem in this country with institutional racism that leads to poor performance of minorities in most areas.

I don't believe that attacking you or your funding source is a way to a productive discussion. However I also don't think that reducing the argument to the soundbite "more funding isn't the answer" is productive either.

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 3 months ago

So what measures are you taking to help cut down on poverty, because cutting down on poverty will severely cut do the achievement gap.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

Yes, we know that the poverty gap is the underlying problem, but underfunding schools and implementing a voucher system isn't the solution.

William Weissbeck 4 years, 3 months ago

I'd be curious about how the USD 501 schools are doing with the achievement gap, compared to the surrounding districts, especially Washburn Rural. In the 70's when I was there, the Topeka schools with a few exceptions were fairly uniform and produced large percentages of college bound. But USD 501 suffered from fact that the city of Topeka expanded but the school district lines were set. People could move to the surrounding districts, especially Rural and not leave the city. The relative tax bases changed. Now Rural is larger in student population than any of the 3 city high schools. The USD 501 administration hasn't changed much since the 70's. The schools probably even have some of the same teachers. In other words the basic structure and personal are likely little changed since the 70's. But if student performance has fallen compared to Rural, what is the changed variable? Would be an interesting study. Agreed putting more money into just the schools and the teachers might not be the answer. But doing nothing isn't the answer either. It will take money, money into targeted programs to change the variables to change the outcome. After all, it's all about the kids, isn't it? Curious - how do Free State and Lawrence High compare? Blue Valley compared to Shawnee Mission, compared to Wyandotte? These should be easy test models.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 3 months ago

Yes, Barbara "poverty" if you mean single parent/aunt/grandmother/? focusing on far far far more important things than providing a nurturing learning environment I agree.

Some parents find success, others much too often feel the school should provide everything. Which it can't, when a key point to success is a sound home environment.

This school should do everything is one of main reasons teachers burn out. Sadly, the mantra of administration now is yes we can do everything. Totally out of bounds.

Not judging either, for I believe in walking in others shoes. Food on the table, finding a way home from work, underemployment, family drama, other siblings, who knows all the reasons why a warm and loving foundation is not offered.

We do well with a patch here, a program there, but in reality a sustained loving home environment is needed. This rarely happens.
What could we do by offering more free things to families?

One of my favorite little sayings used to be, if XXXXXXXXXXXX had YYYYYYYYYYY's parents he or she would be president someday.

Sad, but true. Not hard to watch a child slowly give up fighting the system. Or, more realistically settling for something less for a future.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

They're going for round three of the old ALEC "scholarships for parochial schools" model legislation that they tried the last two years.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

We know after years of cutting school funding budgets that cutting school funding does not improve anything so we may as well move forward to full funding of our public schools instead of making up excuses not to do so.

Who's asking for more money considering the legislature has been in violation of the law. Obey the law is the answer. It is beginning to appear daily Kansas GOP law makers are law breakers.

What do ALEC,Sam Brownback and Dave Trabert have against public education? Why didn't Sam Brownback advise during his campaign that he was opposed to public education and would try to terminate public education during his tenure? Sam Brownback was not being honest with voters.

Paul R Getto 4 years, 3 months ago

The Insane Klown Posse picking up steam. VOTE next time, Sheeple!

Dave Trabert 4 years, 3 months ago

This is only portrayed as being in opposition to public education as a means of defending the status quo...which has gotten to where we are today in Kansas. Even KSDE now admits that large achievement gaps for low income kids have existed for a long time and are getting wider.

Even the Topeka Capital Journal says "Constantly throwing more money at the schools isn’t the answer to proficiency." http://cjonline.com/opinion/2014-02-08/editorial-education-judging-success-difficult

Constantly demanding more money is simply giving institutional wants priority over student needs. When a seven-fold increase in At Risk funding doesn't make much difference in student outcomes, it's time to change the culture.

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 3 months ago

What are you doing for poverty, the main variable in your achievement gap? So far your strategies are only making the gap wider.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 3 months ago

Years ago listened to a wise man whom actually was a retired district leader sum up how to make school effective again. One, break the large schools into smaller ones. For instance, take LHS and simply divide it into 4-5-6 schools. Just think, LHS could have 6 debate clubs, oh my the sports teams, 6 FFA leaders, 6 slots for those students just needing to be around adults, helpers so to speak, and well let the mind wander at the implications.

The thinking of course is in giving the students of the smaller schools a better chance at developing a healthy attitude about learning. Common theme, belonging.

Two, which we can not do is make sure every student comes to class with these needs met. Physical needs met, reasonable feeling of safety, belonging (loved), and developed and developing self worth.

Spend a day in any, I do mean any large high school and kids lacking the above essentials will shock you. Actually, all one needs to observe is just sit outside a high school and watch the kids leave. Look past the kids without coats, so many look aimless and unhappy.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

High school is too late. This is what needs to happen in elementary school.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

Who wants to defend the status quo? Let's work on ending poverty now!

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Kansas legislature has not been constantly throwing more money at Kansas public schools. For the past few years say 15 years the legislature has been throwing less and less money at Kansas Public Schools. Perhaps the Sam ALEC Brownback team missed that while living all those years in Washington,D.C.

The bottom line is the Brownback Team wants to privatize the school system. In order to make a good system appear as though it is failing is first to paint the system as evil then keep pulling funding. When it comes to education politicians are not the experts that's for sure.

There is no hard evidence to substantiate that the public school system is failing nor is there any hard evidence to substantiate that the public school system nor is there any hard evidence to substantiate the need to turn public school tax dollars over to private industry. Nothing but political rhetoric is on the table.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

ALEC Starving Public Schools

The truth is their main complaint is using government funds to support any program that does not funnel taxpayer dollars to corporations and the wealthy, and they have particularly focused on what they call an obscene waste of money on public education that in their corporatist libertarian philosophy is better spent on for-profit private and religious schools.

To bolster their contention that public education is failing miserably, they cite the deplorable performance of students enrolled in the public school systems, and they have had valuable assistance from corporate-owned media and the Koch brothers American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who want to send taxpayer dollars earmarked for public schools to corporate-owned private schools and religious programs.

Public education advocates finally received a wealth of good news courtesy of data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from a long-term trend study of tests given every four years in math and reading. According to the data, contrary to what Republicans, ALEC, and corporate-education advocates contend, America’s public education system has made consistent and equitable progress over the past four decades.



Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

This page reveals how ALEC bills would privatize public education, crush teacher's unions, and push American universities to the right. Among other things, these bills make education a private commodity rather than a public good, and reverse America’s modern innovation of promoting learning and civic virtue through public schools staffed with professional teachers for children from all backgrounds.


Dave Trabert 4 years, 3 months ago

Taxpayer support of public education continues to set new records according to KSDE, which predicts new records again this year at $5.9 billion or $12,885 per pupil.

As for the comment that funding hasn't increased for the last fifteen years, KSDE shows that funding increased from $3.063 billion to $5.852 billion.


Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

What's missing from the ALEC Brownback website is actual numbers.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

They've got actual numbers from actual sources. Those numbers just don't tell the story that he claims it does. Lying with data s a "stink tank" specialty. http://stinktanks.org/

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

To account for inflation let's do the calculations. In 1997-1998 Total Expenditures were $3.063B. To see what the equivalent figure due to inflation would be 15 years later in 2012-2013, using Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator, $3.063B becomes $4.4B. Thus any amount more than $4.4B would mean that there has been an increase in total spending. The data shows in 2012-2013 the Total Expenditures was $5.852B. This means there was an actual INCREASE of more than $1.4B above inflation. This is a 33% INCREASE in Total Expenditures above inflation compared to the 1997-1998 figure.

If one looks at Total Expenditure per Pupil, the figure in 1997-1998 was $6828. Using the same BLS CPI Inflation Calculator $6828 in 1997-1998 becomes $9767 in 2012-2013 due to inflation. Thus any amount above $9767 would be an actual increase above inflation spent per pupil. The data shows in 2012-2013 the Total Expenditure per Pupil to be $12,781. This means there has been an actual INCREASE in spending above inflation of $3014. This is a 31% actual INCREASE in spending above inflation per pupil compared to 1997-1998.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

Barbara it is you who should be ashamed of yourself for chastising someone when you don't have the data calculations correct.

Also your statement "Know what else is higher it's than ever been? Inflation." Is grossly incorrect. The rate of inflation is no where near record levels. In fact the rate of inflation for 2012 (2.1) and 2013 (1.5) are well below the average for the past century.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

So you aren't being paid who cares, neither am I. Not being paid doesn't give you the right to blatantly use incorrect data (your claims on funding that you now admit are incorrect as well as your seriously incorrect inflatation rate claims) in an attempt to prove a point or admonish someone who is actually using correct data.

Dave Trabert 4 years, 3 months ago

We routinely compare spending on inflation-adjusted basis. For example, per-pupil spending was 31% higher in 2013 than in 1998.


Dave Trabert 4 years, 3 months ago

But neither the Supreme Court in Montoy or the district court in Gannon based their rulings on what schools need when operating efficiently. No such analysis has ever been conducted in Kansas. No one - not a single legislator, superintendent, policy analyst and certainly no judge - knows what schools need to operate in a cost-effective manner.

Spending is at a record-high according to KSDE. You will note, however, that our chart shows both nominal and real spending. We're not hiding anything. In fact, our chart also adds in KPERS money for the years prior to 2005 when it was not included in the reported totals.


Now, to your claim that KPERS be the reason that funding has increased - that's also not correct. Even if every dollar of KPERS is removed from our chart, there is still a 27% real spending increase (versus 31% including KPERS). Further, the legislature's total provision for finance (everything provided on state authority, including the parts that don't run through the state budget) has increased each of the last three years even with KPERS excluded.


Dave Trabert 4 years, 3 months ago

But the constitution doesn't prohibit 'efficient' so 'suitable' may take 'efficient' into account. No one ever took efficient into account. They should do so and fund schools accordingly.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

Barbara, you have moved your goal posts. You initially complained about funding rates compared to 15 years ago. You were quite forceful in your desire Dave should same himself. When I pointed out you made a significant error in your facts you have now changed your comparison to 2008. Seems like classic "goal post changing". You shouldn't do what you criticize others of doing.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

Suitable already did take efficient into account. It was suitable funding, not superfluous funding. Why are you making up new studies when you didn't get the results you wanted the first time? Oh wait...

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

Per-pupil spending is lower now than it was in 2009 by that chart. You keep saying it's higher than ever.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

How about your "repeated sin"? You made calculations which you used as a basis to admonish someone. When it is pointed out you made a mistake, you acknowledge the miscalculation but you fail to offer any apology ("my bad" is not true apology) to the person you admonished. Instead you go on to give some lame excuse how the person should have been accounting for inflation in some heavy handed attempt to justify your original admonishment, even though when inflation is accounted for his data and his statement about increased spending is still correct. A simple straightforward sincere apology to the wronged person is the correct answer, not a feeble attempt to continue to justify your prior admonishment.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

Someone needs to. On more than one occasion you have admonished someone quite strongly based on a supposed factual basis. More than once I have caught you making substantial errors in your supposed facts that made your arguments null and void. Despite your acknowledgement on each occasion of your error, you chose to try to continue to justify your admonishment by essentially saying despite your error they didn't deserve an apology. Under such circumstances civilized people offer an honest apology for their error not a continued attempt to justify their verbal tongue lashing. It would do you well to learn that since apparently your upbringing lacked that teaching.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

He is doing quite a good job of defending himself. It is you that is making false claims about inflation rates and making errors in your calculations comparing current funding to 1997.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

The point is you made a mistake on two points (current funding compared to 1997 and your ridiculous statement about the inflation rate being higher than ever). Despite being blatantly wrong on both issues you continue to feel justified in attempting to admonish someone instead of being a civilized adult and providing a genuine apology for your obvious errors. You chose to try to shift topic. This shows your true nature. It is not pretty.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

If that is how you describe yourself so be it.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

So you are saying liberals are not capable of showing common manners. How interesting.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

You are the one relying on incorrect data to support your points. That does not make you a winner unless you are Charlie Sheen. You are not Charlie Sheen.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

Just shows your true uncivilized manner.

Dave Trabert 4 years, 3 months ago

Actually, it's KSDE that puts all the money together. We report their numbers. But employee retirement benefits are part of the cost of hiring people, just as are salaries, health benefits and payroll taxes.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

She does have a point. Not correcting for inflation makes your calculations look shady. I don't care who gives you the data. You've got spreadsheets or apps that could correct for inflation.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Kansas’ current constitutional crisis has its genesis in a series of cuts to school funding that began in 2009. The cuts were accelerated by a $1.1 billion tax break, which benefited mostly upper-income Kansans, proposed by Governor Brownback and enacted in 2012.

Overall, the Legislature slashed public education funding to 16.5 percent below the 2008 level, triggering significant program reductions in schools across the state. Class sizes have increased, teachers and staff members have been laid off, and essential services for at-risk students were eliminated, even as the state implemented higher academic standards for college and career readiness.

Thus far nowhere is there any indication that slashing public school budgets improve test scores and/or graduation rates.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Thus far nowhere is there any indication that slashing public school budgets improve test scores and/or graduation rates

Even though the state Constitution requires that it make “suitable provision” for financing public education, Gov. Sam Brownback and the Republican-led Legislature have made draconian cuts in school spending, leading to a lawsuit that now sits before the state Supreme Court.

Lawsuits have successfully forced elected officials to increase school funding overall and to deliver more resources to poor students and those with special needs. If the Kansas Supreme Court rules otherwise, students in those states may begin to see the tide of education cuts return.

Parents filed a lawsuit in the Kansas courts to challenge the cuts. In Gannon v. State of Kansas, a three-judge trial court ruled in January 2013 for the parents, finding that the cuts reduced per-pupil expenditures far below a level “suitable” to educate all children under Kansas’ standards.

The judges also found that the Legislature was not meeting even the basic funding amounts set in its own education cost studies. The judges called the school funding cut “destructive of our children’s future.”

To remedy the funding shortfall, the judges ordered that per-pupil expenditures be increased to $4,492 from $3,838, the level previously established as suitable.

A victory for the parents would be heartening, but if it comes, would Governor Brownback and legislative leaders uphold the right to education guaranteed to Kansas school children?

The signals thus far are not promising. If the Kansas Supreme Court orders restoration of the funding, legislators are threatening to amend the state’s Constitution by removing the requirement for “suitable” school funding and to strip Kansas courts of jurisdiction to hear school finance cases altogether.

And if the amendment fails, they have vowed to defy any court order for increased funding or, at the very least, take the money from higher education.

A court-stripping constitutional amendment, and defiance of a state Supreme Court order, would shred the very fabric of Kansas’ government and send shock waves through state capitals across the nation. It would allow elected branches to avoid any responsibility to adhere to the language and interpretation of their state constitutions by the courts.

It would gravely undermine judicial independence and shut the courthouse door to vulnerable children who, as a last resort, seek legal redress to vindicate their fundamental right to an education.


Steve King 4 years, 3 months ago

Dave, Dave, Dave. When are you going to realize you carry no weight here? When are you going to realize you've been outed as a paid Koch/Alec stooge and we all know it. Make up all the funky numbers you want, we all know your a "paid" spokesman. And we're laughing.

Your privatization concepts have already been proven to be a ruse to the enrichment your masters only. Just look at the privatization of KanCare. Hospitals and Health Care Providers are now refusing to accept any more patients due to non payment of bills. Yep, the private sector are not paying their bills!

Yep, privatization is the path to glory....

Elections have consequences and I predict after the next election you'll be doing something else.

Beator 4 years, 3 months ago

The United States spent more than $11,000 per elementary student in 2010 and more than $12,000 per high school student. When researchers factored in the cost for programs after high school education such as college or vocational training, the United States spent $15,171 on each young person in the system – more than any other nation covered in the report.

Spending, of course, only tells part of the story and does not guarantee students' success. The United States routinely trails its rival countries in performances on international exams despite being among the heaviest spenders on education.


James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

The USA does actually get top results... for the wealthy kids. Last I checked, only China did better, and they game the system to distort their test results.

As everyone else has pointed out upthread, the real problem is poverty.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

I am sure you have verifiable evidence of other countries "gaming" the system. How do know the US didn't game the system as well. Since the "real" problem is poverty we don't have to spend more money on updating buildings, adding computers, or paying the teachers more since it won't address the problem.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

I'm sure I do. Google it. I'm not suggesting China is cheating, per se. They're just creating an atmosphere where they'll naturally score higher than other countries for reasons other than the quality of their school system. China makes no pretense about even trying to educate everyone, unlike the US, which tries to educate the children of immigrants, the disabled, kids with behavior problems, etc. China starts weeding out students from their schools at an early age, and less than 25% will go on to even attend university. So by the time you get to age 15, when you take the PISA, the worst performing students have all been "left behind." Meanwhile, wealthy families in Shanghai have been known to spend more than the median Chinese income on tutoring services to make sure their children will get a slot in a university.

As far as American gaming, ( and by "gaming," I'm assuming you mean "cheating," which is not what I meant at all) I don't think it happens on the PISA. There aren't direct school funding decisions, college admissions, grades, or jobs on the line for PISA performance. There's really no incentive to cheat. China might have some incentive in terms of national pride, but I don't think they need to cheat in order to get their score. I have no reason to accuse them of that.

Nobody is disputing the wealth gap in education. Not even D.T, but it isn't ever as simplistic as the argument that "funding doesn't matter." Funding does matter, but we're still playing catchup for problems of poverty that happen outside the school day. Without that funding, the problem would be worse.

John Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

It was your and others point repeatedly that poverty is the problem. Fine then don't demand more money for facilities, equipment and teacher pay because it doesn't matter. You can't have it both ways.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

Even you know that's a strawman. You can't run a public school system without any funding. All anyone asks for is suitable funding. The state needs to restore it.

If we really want to solve the achievement gap problem, we'd both make sure the schools were suitably funded and address the problems of poverty that may interfere with education, such as inadequate health or nutrition.

Interesting side note. Rich schools are generally better funded than poor schools.That makes sense, since school funding relies on local property taxes in a lot of areas.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 3 months ago

For the most part, Asian schools drop students down sometimes 3rd-6th grade. These are the students will never see the test scores on. But, we are so often compared to. Yes, most countries can check the box, public education k-12, but in reality offer little for those not highly intelligent.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

Exactly. Finland educates everyone. So does England. China does not. Germany and France segregate by ability. There are a lot of factors to take into account when comparing international test scores for 15 year olds.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 3 months ago

They do not test all students with the same test as we do.

James Howlette 4 years, 3 months ago

The comparison is for the PISA test. It's given to a random sampling of students at age 15 in all the 70 participating countries. So in that case it is the same test and nobody technically gives it to all students. There are just going to be a wider range of potential students taking that test in countries like the USA, UK, and Finland. A lower range in China.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

ALEC at this point represents the state of kansas legislature. Numbers and such will be "cooked" accordingly which in essence is a fraud being perpetrated on Kansas taxpayers and voters.

The Washington D.C. delegation also receives their "agenda" and talking points by way of ALEC.

ALEC has a new partner named Aegis Strategic The firm, named Aegis Strategic, is run by a former top executive at Charles and David Koch's flagship advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, and it was founded with the blessing of the brothers' political advisers, three Republican operatives tell Mother Jones.

The consulting firm plans to handpick local, state, and federal candidates who share the Kochs' free-market, limited-government agenda, and groom them to win elections. "We seek out electable advocates of the freedom and opportunity agenda who will be forceful at both the policy and political levels," the company notes on its website.

(((( There is nothing about ALEC that supports "limited government" in fact quite the contrary)))

Aegis says it can manage every aspect of a campaign, including advertising, direct mail, social media, and fundraising.

The consulting firm Aegis Strategic plans to handpick local, state, and federal candidates who share the Kochs' politics.


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