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Archive for Monday, October 4, 2010

School advocates see cause for worry

Brownback plan lacks details for future funding

October 4, 2010

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— When Republican Sam Brownback, the front-runner in the governor’s race, says he wants to reform the school finance formula but won’t say how, that raises concerns among those who have fought for more education funding.

That anxiety is heightened because Brownback, a U.S. senator, has been away from state government for 16 years and missed the political and legal fights over school finance that have produced the school funding plan that now exists. And Brownback is most closely aligned with members of the Legislature who consistently take schools to task for wanting more money.

Brownback faces Democrat Tom Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City, in the Nov. 2 election.

Funding the public school system, which takes more than half the state budget, will be a challenge for the next administration, especially in light of a continued strain on state coffers and the expected school finance lawsuit that alleges the Legislature has failed its constitutional duty to provide an adequate education for all students.

Holland says the biggest problem for schools right now is that they have had to cope with significant budget cuts in recent years. State education officials say it would take $415 million to fund the school finance law that was in place before the budget cuts were made. Holland, along with his lieutenant governor running mate, state Sen. Kelly Kultala of Kansas City, promise to restore funding as the state’s financial picture brightens.

“The state must meet its constitutional obligation to fund our schools,” Holland said. “That is why as the economy improves, the Holland-Kultala administration will invest dollars back into the classroom and we will oppose further cuts to public schools,” he said.

Brownback has outlined several goals for education.

“With regard to K-12 funding, we need to focus the state’s dollars on classroom instruction, promote innovation, reform the school finance formula, and pursue unified accounting of our school districts’ use of state funds,” he said.

He said if elected, one of his main goals will be to raise the reading levels of fourth-graders.

“If children don’t learn to read early, they are more likely to face a lifetime of difficulty in the classroom and the job market,” he said.

But exactly what is his plan for funding?

When state Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, a Republican House leader from Olathe, unveiled a proposal that would essentially blow up the current school finance plan and rely much more on local property taxes, Democrats pounced.

This was the Brownback plan, they said. And they produced analyses that showed the plan would hurt many school districts across the state.

“We’ve been down this road before, and it is truly the road to ruin,” said a letter from Democratic legislative leaders to school officials statewide.

After several days of blasts from Democrats, Brownback’s campaign issued a statement saying that he would veto the measure if given the opportunity.

Brownback has said that, if elected, it is not his job to dictate a plan, but instead to provide the leadership to get the Legislature to form a plan. He says he wants to bring stakeholders together to hammer out a school finance formula that, according to his spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag, is “fair, understandable to the public, and that promotes excellence.”

But some have found these statements too general. Kansas Families for Education, which has fought for increased school funding, endorsed Holland, saying that some of Brownback’s positions sounded good, but added, “Ultimately, however, the board found too many details missing to allow them to make an informed judgment on your position on education issues.”

Comments

CorkyHundley 4 years, 2 months ago

I'm with you on concrete evidence. I' anxiously waiting for concrete evidence from the Democrats what my federal taxes will be. But they went on vacation. I need to know how much money I need to set aside for the Obamacare, and School tax mandates.

tryandkeepup 4 years, 2 months ago

FYI Corky, the Republicans went on vacation also.

Neomarxist123 4 years, 2 months ago

The Democrats' plan is "spend like there is no tomorrow".

Anyone with a budget is a threat to that.

KSManimal 4 years, 2 months ago

Brownback's plan is to gut public funding of public schools, and sell them down the river to private interests. He won't say that, because he knows it would cost him votes. But, he has sung praises of Jeb Bush's work at destroying Florida's public education system. Check this out:

http://www.examiner.com/k-12-in-topeka/jeb-bush-helps-reveal-brownback-s-vision-for-kansas-public-schools

notajayhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

"Brownback's plan is to gut public funding of public schools, and sell them down the river to private interests."

We can only hope.

Why don't you just come out and tell people you have a vested interest in this, manimal?

KSManimal 4 years, 2 months ago

"Why don't you just come out and tell people you have a vested interest in this, manimal?"

Pretty much for the same reason I don't come out and tell people the sky is blue.

notajayhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

If it were that obvious, you wouldn't be an anonymous user. Not that there's anything wrong with that, some people in your profession may feel some of the same constraints that I am under regarding public expressions of opinion. Although you give enough clues to make it near-obvious, and given your writings elsewhere, those constraints are obviously moot. But at least people here know what my profession is, and if I were to be arguing for or against funding for mental health resources, they can give whatever weight they deem fit, for better or worse, to the fact that I might not be entirely objective.

texburgh 4 years, 2 months ago

Want to know where Brownback is on school funding and education? His "spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag" is the wife of Derrick Sontag, executive director of the anti-public education organization Americans for Prosperity. Both Sontags worked for the extreme right wing Republican legislative leaders taking generous taxpayer funded salaries and getting very generous taxpayer funded parting gifts when they left government to fight against government. If I recall the LJW report at the time, the two Sontags took home $15,000 between the two of them when they left government employment. So of course NOW they are for more accountability. Back then, not so much.

ferrislives 4 years, 2 months ago

I wish that New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie was our governor, so that he could truly reform our state's educational system. It's out of control, and the spending never stops. The teacher's union originated for a good purpose, but I believe that it's the biggest part of the problem when it comes to improving everything. Why should a bad teacher keep their tenure?

I watched a news special on Finland's educational system (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39154226/vp/39428489#39428489), which is #1 in the world. They have three teachers in each classroom: Two do instruction, while one helps those one-on-one that need it. They also have longer days, and a longer year all-together. Yet it costs LESS per pupil there than it does in the U.S.

Continuing to throw money at the problem will do nothing to solve it. We've seen proof of that over the years. I'm so glad that this issue has come to the forefront, because it needs to be dealt with now!

***Remember, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

According to other posts, teachers in the grade and high schools don't have tenure, and Finland's teachers are unionized.

ferrislives 4 years, 2 months ago

"According to other posts, teachers in the grade and high schools don't have tenure, and Finland's teachers are unionized."

You'll have to show me proof that teachers in Kansas don't get tenure, because I've been hearing that's the case for years.

As far as Finland having a union, that's great. Having an efficient union CAN happen. Their country decided in the 70's, when their schools were terrible, that they needed to change things across the board. They didn't let the union stop them from reform. Rather, they all teamed up with solutions for the betterment of the students. I wish that our teacher's union would do the same, because their #1 priority should be the students, with the teachers being just behind at #2.

jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

I don't know for sure about the tenure situation - I believe that university professors get tenure, but not K-12 teachers.

Maybe Bozo could help out here - he's the one who posted the original post about tenure.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 2 months ago

"They have three teachers in each classroom: Two do instruction, while one helps those one-on-one that need it. They also have longer days, and a longer year all-together."

I see nothing in this description to which teachers would object. If you think that's the solution, why are you blaming teachers that it doesn't exist here?

"Yet it costs LESS per pupil there than it does in the U.S."

Most likely, this comes from a comparison of apples to oranges.

"Continuing to throw money at the problem will do nothing to solve it."

And continuing to throw that meaningless statement around does nothing to solve it, either. Good education does not come cheaply. Undoubtedly, we can do better with the money that is spent, but any contention that we spend too much on education is either an indication of being misinformed, or your true goal is to damage or destroy public education.

ferrislives 4 years, 2 months ago

Bozo, you obviously mis-read my post. I did not blame the teachers. I blame the teacher's union as a whole, which cares more about keeping all teachers as opposed to GOOD ones.

"Yet it costs LESS per pupil there than it does in the U.S." "Most likely, this comes from a comparison of apples to oranges." Huh? Your statement makes no sense. What needs to happen in that our government officials need to go over to successful countries such as Finland to see how they work, and apply some of those ideas here at home. Why re-invent the wheel?

If you think that continuing to throw money at the non-working educational system is the way to go, then you must be insane (see my original post for the definition). When 25% of students drop out of high school, there is a problem. Putting your head in the sand is not helping to come up with a solution.

sunflowergirl 4 years, 2 months ago

Republicans and Democrats alike should be concerned about Brownback's plan (however vague) for education in Kansas. He's said that he wants to reform the school finance formula which would shift the burden of funding schools to local school boards and the only way school boards have to raise money is through property taxes. The last thing I want to be doing right now is paying higher property taxes on my house after its value has decreased so significantly.

notajayhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

So you'd rather be paying more in income tax, sales tax, motor vehicle fees and related taxes ...

notajayhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

"He's said that he wants to reform the school finance formula which would shift the burden of funding schools to local school boards"

Maybe if he succeeds at that, local school boards will have to spend money in the classrooms rather than on ball fields.

Jimo 4 years, 2 months ago

"says he wants to reform the school finance formula but won’t say how"

And Nixon had a plan to end the war - just wouldn't say how until power had been put into his hands.

But who ever said Kansans learn easily?

QuinnSutore 4 years, 2 months ago

I'd rather have privately funded schools than see this liberal tolerance nonsense shoved down the throat of every susceptible young mind.

kansasmutt 4 years, 2 months ago

I did hear 1 good thing Mr. Brownback had to say about Kansas schools. He said

" The school districts have become more about building new huge money pit buildings and have put the money going to the teaching end of the classrooms to the rear of the list "

Every town big or small has built HUGE new schools that cost millions to run each year and have cut what teachers get and spend more on sports then helping the ones who struggle.

If ever you get down around Spring Hill Kansas, take a look at the grade scool they have when you come into town from the north. It is a standard metal building , with no frills. They teach, they are not keeping up with the Jones`s .

Do you need a $45 million school to be able to teach kids how to read, write and do math ?

Do you need a $12 million football field ?

Do you want your kids to get educated or learn how to waste money ?

In todays world a school building appears to be outdated in 10 years on the average, so why not build something less costly with a plan to remodel it instead of leaving it empty and costing millions to maintain. Every city big or small has 2 to 6 empty schools costing millions and going to waste.

If a business wasted this kind of money, they too would be going broke and failing, why not use the brain you have and think and teach smart ?

volunteer 4 years, 2 months ago

Well, K-NEA will just have a bigger reason to rally their members into campaigning for their pro-education legislators.

I heard Brownback endorse raising the tenure theshold from 3 to five years and figured that would set off alarm bells in the k-12 folks. Ahh..that is what he meant by his vague "let''s improve education."

Thanks for the post, texburgh, about Brownback's spokeswoman. The New Yorker did a big story on the Koch brothers about six weeks ago. Apparently those two brothers (not sure if they still give Wichita as their address or if just their oil pipeline company remains based in Wichita) are the third wealthiest guys in the country(worth 30-40 billion each or something close to that) and are the founders/financiers of Americans for Prosperity.

blindrabbit 4 years, 2 months ago

Smilin Sam your C Street trained Governor to be (hopefully not). Basically did nothing of merit during his time in Washington. If Sam cannot tie any given issue to his warped C-Street indoctrination of of fundamental religion he is out of his comfort zone. In that situation, his next position is based strictly on cost-benefit analysis; regardless science and potential progressive outcomes.

BigDog 4 years, 2 months ago

I would like to see a detailed plan for both candidates on ...... energy, school funding, taxes, economic development/job creation

So far both candidates have gotten away with sound bites ....

notajayhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

"Everything that you hate, the Brownback's spent their money for."

That's right - their money - not the state's or even their neighbor's.

"It's ironic that the Brownbacks sent their kids to an elitist, diverse, liberal, and expensive private school in Topeka."

If that's what private schools are, then why are all the liberals so against them?

notajayhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

Really? Those third-world countries go on a private school model?

If all schools were privatized there would be schools available for all market sectors. The only difference between that and our current system is that parents now have few or no options but to send their kids to cr*ppy public schools; the public schools don't have to perform or risk losing students, since they have what amounts to a near-monopoly and a mandated customer base.

Jimo 4 years, 2 months ago

"If all schools were privatized there would be schools available for all market sectors."

Well, there's Mistake #1 since PFC is quite correct - most of the third world has your privatized schools and - NO - there aren't schools available for all or even most "market sectors" (whatever "market" you're blabbering about). Heck, even pioneer schools required the explicit support of (gasp) GOVERNMENT.

Q: Why weren't there private schools in Little House on the Prairie? A: They were all Socialists. (What I learned watching Glenn Beck cry.)

There are very, very few private schools that have to academically perform or risk losing students. Most parents are quite happy as long as Johnny memorizes a dozen Bible verses and week and Suzy can name 5 reasons why creationism is the answer (but what's the question?). Learnin that ain't. Not on my dime at least.

That Kansas public schools, among the best in the nation, would be described as "cr*ppy", shows that you are not of this planet.

Besides, how a school in a town of 500, isolated on the plains of Kansas get's "privatized" is anybody's guess. Probably explains how Kansas, about as totally in the grip of the GOP as anywhere, isn't one inch closer to "privatizing" schools than Ayn Rand Fantasy Camp.

notajayhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

"That Kansas public schools, among the best in the nation, would be described as "cr*ppy", shows that you are not of this planet."

If you're a shining example of their product, you're not exactly strengthening your case.

"Besides, how a school in a town of 500, isolated on the plains of Kansas get's "privatized" is anybody's guess. "

Pretty much the same way that town got a gas station, a store, and a doctor - if there's a need for a product, someone will open a business and sell it. If there isn't enough of a demand to support the business locally, several small groups will combine to purchase the service in a central location. (Where did you think the term 'Unified School District' came from, anyway?)

"There are very, very few private schools that have to academically perform or risk losing students."

Oh, jimmie, you're such a kidder. It's so hard to tell when you're joking, when your claims are always so ludicrous - and entertaining.

Do you seriously, seriously think parents would send their second - and third, and fourth - children to someplace like Choate at $35K per year if the elder siblings couldn't score high enough on their entrance exams to make it into Harvard?

Besides which, at the high school level there are currently few options available. In most markets it's the one or two Catholic schools or the public schools. If all schools had the level of competition of post-secondary education, it would be slightly different. Believe it or not, there's a reason it costs more to go to Harvard than community college, and if parents were paying the same tuition at both, you wouldn't be seeing too many people making JoCo their first choice.

Now, would most parents keep their kids in the only available alternative to public school regardless of what they learned? Yes, for two reasons: 1) They'd send their kids to a voodoo witch doctor rather than the public schools if it was the only other option, and 2) regardless of what they learned in any available private school, it would be a step up from the public schools. Even if your contention was true that all they learned was Bible verses, at least they'd be able to read them, not to mention understand what those little number thingies are next to them.

"Learnin that ain't. Not on my dime at least."

As previously mentioned, it's evident from the (lack of) quality of your posts that your parents didn't spend that dime.

Jimo 4 years, 2 months ago

Our big-government forefathers: socialists to a man.

notajayhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

"You’re living in a fantasy world, where a magical market and competition solves all problems. It’s a third world model because the affluent can afford to send their kids to private schools and the less well-to-do and poor are left to fend for themselves. Oh, but what “market sector” is available for them? Zip, zero, and nada. "

Yeah, I got the point you were trying to make before. I ignored it - and Jimo's repetition of it - because it was ridiculous. Only the kids of parents who have money get to go to school in third-world countries? No kiddin'. Here's a clue (since you appear in desperate need of one): In third-world countries, only the kids of parents who have money get to eat, or have a roof over their heads. Maybe nobody told you, but this isn't the third world, and you can't compare the dynamics of the economic system in a subsistence level backwater malaria-infested jungle with those of this country. It really doesn't make much sense to use an analysis of the market forces to decide whether a $100K Mercedes will take away some share from an $80K BMW because the performance is better, when you're in a place where people don't have food, clothing, or shelter, does it?

"The public schools don’t have to perform? Adequately yearly progress mandates, no child left behind, etc. - right they don’t have to perform. You should try to inform yourself a little better."

Speaking of informing yourself a little better, get in your car and take a drive about 45 miles to the east. You'll get to see one of the biggest disasters in American public schools, the KCMO school district. Meet standards? They couldn't even keep their accreditation!!! But the district still collects taxes and still pays the teachers and parents still have to send their kids there. Why? Because it's the law that you pay your school taxes and send your kids to school.

The Lawrence school district is "on improvement", the euphemism that our kinder, gentler education system has adopted to replace "failing". Did you get any tax money back? Or get the choice to let your kids go elsewhere?

And that's what you call accountability for performance? And I'M the one living in a fantasy world?

"The reality is that a sound public school system is the best interest for all of us"

A person sure couldn't tell from Romper-Room level of the comments around here.

Jimo 4 years, 2 months ago

PFC - you can't argue with a man's religion. For some, that's a weird Ayn Rand based faith (strangely enough its an atheistic world where man has no obligation to any other man). Hawk's a typical example of this: unable to make rational argument, incapable of keeping on point, intemperate in his frustration, out of his depth. The weirdest part of this survival of the fittest, war of all against all, religion is that poor jayhawk wouldn't survive a week in it.

avoice 4 years, 2 months ago

The more this campaign goes on with the leading candidates' camps both acting like they're back in junior high (or never matured past that point), the more inclined I am to vote Libertarian. There is not a candidate in this race who is currently proving that he is going to adequately represent the majority of Kansans, and that does include the Libertarian candidate. But the message I really want to send to our political process is that it's time for real change. And real change is not going to come from inside the Republican or Democratic parties. We need at least one new, viable political party in this state and in this country. So my vote is going to the third party that has the best chance of becoming viable: the Libertarians. Back in the day, my father would have said this would be a "waste" of my vote. But I believe that I'd rather "waste" my vote on standing up for what I believe than waste my vote giving it to someone who doesn't deserve it.

Centerville 4 years, 2 months ago

Interesting. Holland is just holding out the old tin cup. And the 'advocates' consist of one website funded by a union. Brownback is talking about students learning something.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

Brownback has outlined several goals for education.

“With regard to K-12 funding, we need to focus the state’s dollars on classroom instruction, promote innovation, reform the school finance formula, and pursue unified accounting of our school districts’ use of state funds,” he said."

Brownback just said absolutely nothing. The man offers political rhetoric.

JustNoticed 4 years, 2 months ago

Suck it up, people. It's time to Eat the Rich.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

Maybe Brownback does not pay attention? Brownback and federal budget matters look a lot like this:

Face it history documents that republicans destroy financial institutions which creates:

  1. job losses

  2. loss of medical insurance

  3. loss of retirement plans

  4. loss of homes

How do we know this?

The Reagan/Bush savings and loan heist was considered the largest theft in history at the time. George Herbert Walker Bush then took $1.4 trillion of taxpayers money to cover the theft. http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  1. The Bush/Cheney Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers Yes, substantial fraud was involved. For example, mortgage companies and banks used deceit to get people to take on mortgages when there was no possibility that the borrowers would be able to meet the payments. Not only was this fraud, but this fraud depended on government authorities ignoring their regulatory responsibilities." http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  2. Only 3 major Financial Institutions were at risk in spite of what we’re told ? "There were just a handful of institutions that were terribly weakened. AIG the insurer, Bank of America and Citigroup, Those three were clearly in very weakened form. Many of the other big banks simply were not. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

  3. Privatizing Social Security Would Place the Nations Economy at Risk "Social Security privatization will raise the size of the government's deficit to nearly $700 billion per year for the next 20 years, almost tripling the size of the national debt.

Put simply, moving to a system of private accounts would not only put retirement income at risk--it would likely put the entire economy at risk." http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0505orr.html

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

Grover Norwich and Sam Brownback have something in common:

Beware: TABOR Is Coming After devastating government services in Colorado, the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" threatens to spread. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

Colorado repealed TABOR.

The State Chamber of Commerce and Brownback's so called Club for Growth back TABOR and this can hit public education hard.

Beware!!!

HMcMellon 4 years, 2 months ago

Say what? Even FoxNews agrees that Obama lowered the taxes for 95% of Americans, but lies like the above continue.

FOX NEWS ARTICLE: http://tinyurl.com/38pbkcf

Of course, the reason for the lies is to create a smokescreen for the rich folks in Connecticut who support Brownback because they are pissed that Obama does not want to continue the tax cuts for the upper 2% of taxpayers.

Brownback, Roberts and all the RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) from Kansas are opposed to extending Obama's tax cuts for 95% of us in favor of extending tax cuts for their buddies, who make in excess of $100 million per year. The ignorant voters in Kansas will probably vote against their own best interests because of the lies like the above promoted by Brownback and the multi-national corps who employ him.

Brownback's corporate buddies have pumped millions into his campaign and into the campaigns of all the other anti-small-business RINOs, who are running for office in our State on behalf of foreign corporations. Whoever spends more on TV ads wins elections in Kansas, and those who are in bed with the anonymous mostly foreign-owned corporate donors fool the ignorant people of Kansas time after time.

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