Letters to the Editor

Only ‘suitable’?

January 15, 2011


To the editor:

While listening to Gov. Brownback’s State of the State address, I was struck by the use of the word “suitable” to describe the sort of education he envisions for the children of our state.

“Suitable?” Is that all? I would hope the state of Kansas could do more for our children than provide them with an education that is merely adequate. He charges the Legislature with the task of defining what a “suitable” education is for our future Kansans.

For legislators without children in the Kansas public schools, that definition will probably be based on a desire to cut the education budget. They may want to dismantle important programs and probably do away with arts education altogether. Sports, on the other hand, will likely continue to be well funded.

Don’t all children in Kansas deserve quality, well-rounded educations? Brownback’s rhetoric implied that only those fortunate to send their children to private schools could hope for good quality educations. All other children in Kansas will be subject to an education system that is only suitable.


Liberty_One 7 years, 4 months ago

Solution--make all schools private. You're welcome!

Predictable response: only rich kids would go to school then if all education was private!

Answer: kind of like how only rich kids ever get food from a private business, or clothes, or transportation, or entertainment, etc.?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

Rich kids do, in fact, get much better access to food, clothes, transportation, entertainment, healthcare-- and about everything else.

Liberty275 7 years, 4 months ago

And an XBox360 instead of just an OMG hueg XBox.

The public (including me with no kids) needs to pay to educate those that will inherit our nation, but that should be in the form of vouchers used to pay a private or public school of the parent's choosing.

gccs14r 7 years, 4 months ago

You really want to go there regarding cars? There is a huge gap in the passenger safety afforded those in new luxury cars as opposed to that available in 15-year-old economy cars. Not only do new cars have much better structural integrity, they also have things such as side airbags and stability control and, in the case of luxury cars, a greater incentive to provide maximum safety to the occupants. I would argue that a $50k car is more than ten times better qualitatively than is a $5000 used car.

gccs14r 7 years, 4 months ago

I guess you think there is no material difference between Brembo and Bendix, either.

llama726 7 years, 4 months ago

That's a totally arbitrary comparison. Why should people of one generation have to feel better about their quality of life being better than someone generations before them? Time moves forward. Comparisons are invalid if they are across generations. Of course quality of life has improved... Time has moved on. Technology and societal progress have advanced.

Fossick 7 years, 4 months ago

"Solution--make all schools private. You're welcome!"

As much as I agree with the sentiment*, we must work within the constitutional requirement that the state provide schooling for free to anyone who wants it. Therefore state government must (probably in perpetuity) deal with the requirement to operate a school system.

But all this howling misses the overriding reality of school effectiveness: there is no causation between money spent by the schools and the education they deliver. While a minimal amount of funding is necessary, the vast majority - vast majority - of student performance is correspondent to the value the student herself assigns to education. And there's very little the state can do about that.

Justthefacts claimed below that "we are left with the worker bee's (sic) who mind so much better," and it is doubtless true. The problem is that this is precisely what our public school system, based as it is on a 19th-century Prussian factory model**, is designed to do. Making good little worker bees (and soldiers) is "the educational interests of the state" writ large.

  • my own kids were homeschooled until college and my foster kids of school age go to a private school. ** i.e. segregate children into age groups, pour upon them government-defined knowledge, and expect that they will move subject-to-subject at the toll of someone else's bell. At the end of this process out pops an 'educated' individual, as if she were a padlock or an automobile.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

Okay, Liberty_One, let's consider privatizing all schools. Would education still be mandatory from ages 6 to 16? If so, you have created a requirement similar to the one in the recent health insurance reform, which requires citizens (in certain categories) to buy a private product. What steps will be taken to make sure that parents do not deprive their children of this central aspect of care? Will Children's Services remove from the home children who are being abused in this way? Will children be able to sue their parents to require them to send them to school? If education is not mandatory, what steps will the country take to ascertain that there is gainful employment for persons who are unable to read, write, do arithmetic, or find places on the map? Are the welfare rolls likely to swell as a result of the elimination of public education? Who will provide unbiased information to parents about the schools available? Will there be any publicly-available rankings? Or will parents be at the mercy of the schools' own advertising hype? What recourse will families have if no school wishes to open in their neighborhood, because no school can make sufficient profit on the kind of tuition families there can pay? Will private education cost families of the working and lower middle classes less than they are paying now in taxes? Or would such a change only benefit the well-to-do? What provision will be made for the education of children who have special needs? Such education may well be beyond the means of many working families. Are such children to be left uneducated?
Will charitable organizations step into the breach left by the departure of public funding for education? Will they raise enough money to pay the tuition of all who need it? Will people whose taxes drop channel the money saved into scholarship funds for children to attend private school? Will private schools offer a better-quality education? It would be pretty hard, and very expensive, to duplicate the kind of public education Lawrence schools provide.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

Liberty_One, You are so enamored of the idea that public schools are "failing" that you do not recognize their successes. Hundreds of millions of Americans have succeeded because they received public education. You propose instead to replace public schools with a totally untested non-system of private schools. You use Abraham Lincoln as an example of a successful man who was largely self-educated. He was exceptional in every way. Most people who have not had formal education remain indifferently informed about the world. You assume that the Rosetta Stone computer program provides language effective four-skill language education. It does not. This has been determined empirically. The comparison to the cost of language instruction at KU is misplaced, because we are talking about K-12, not university. How much does it cost to offer foreign languages at that level? You assume that for-profit schools will be cheaper and better--and equally available. For-profit schools that exist are overpriced and inferior--mostly good for individuals who want a degree without having to put in the hard work of learning. For-profit hospitals choose only "designer" patients with gold-plated insurance.
Poor neighborhoods and poor small towns and rural areas (like most of Western Kansas) don't even get ordinary businesses; how would they attract schools? Do you think that those parts of the country would have a panoply of wonderful schools with a variety of different programs to choose from? If poor people can't afford to pay enough, not even shoddy "education companies" will seek out their business. A lot of American children would have no chance to gain an education. You can't outsource education. You can't replace it with internet (despite what you might think). You can't buy it on-line or head to school on Saturday afternoon (like to the Walmart 20 miles down the road to buy the week's groceries). Your contention that public schools are "torture" for special needs children is not substantiated by the research on the subject. Public schools aren't "torture" exceptionally capable students, either, even though they might not get as much intellectual stimulation as they could absorb.
People did not "love" to donate to schools before there were public schools. That was why public schools were founded--so education would not be restricted to the wealthy and a handful of charity pupils. Our founding fathers recognized the need for an educated citizenry, which is why provisions for the establishment and funding of public education appeared so frequently in the Early Republic. If you wish to opt out of the public school system for yourself and your family, you are free to do so. But don't deprive the rest of the country because of your prejudices.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

Liberty_One, It's your knowledge of history that is skewed. Public schools did not arise in Germany. Their purposes have varied, but in the US the goal was to make an informed (definitely not an obedient citizenry) and to promote economic productivity. J'ai etudie le francais a l'ecole publique, dans ma jeunesse, et je me souviens la grammaire et les mots. Je lis les livres en francais sans Larousse, et j'ecrive le francais, quoique j' emploie la langue peu frequentment. Si vouz comprendez le francais aussi bien que moi, repondez en francais.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

Liberty_One, Radical libertarian websites are not a valid source of information. But I see that your mind is made up.
I'm sorry that you aren't open to rethinking your position, but I'm glad that very few of our fellow citizens see things your way.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

Liberty_One, Your own odd interpretation of history and the contemporary situation reveals that while you might have "read extensively," you haven't read authoritative sources. I didn't say that John Dewey was a radical libertarian. No educated person would suggest anything of the sort. Of course, I'm at a loss how you would even infer that I thought that, since I never mentioned John Dewey.
I do think that you have imbibed some radical libertarian ideas. Radical libertarian websites, such as "Leadership U" and "FoundationAmerican" propound peculiar ideas about education and its history such as you have presented here--a mishmash of misrepresented fact, falsehood, insinuation, and anti-government propaganda, all wrapped up in rhetoric that inculcates a sense of impending disaster facing the United States. Although, upon reflection, prehaps "radical libertarian" isn't the right category for their views; some of the ideas are closer to anarchism. I prefer to get my information from reputable sources in the KU Library, rather than from websites or self-proclaimed "experts" who preach on internet forums.

gmlangesq 7 years, 4 months ago

Did you really read these? Or did you pull them from http://murrayrothbard.com/education-free-and-compulsory/?

Interesting that the website, an extreme libertarian blog, contains all of the sources you cited in this post in its refence section, nearly in the exact order you cited them.

The article makes many of your arguments as well. Are you Murray Rothbard, or merely a fan?

impska 7 years, 4 months ago

Liberty One doesn't mention it, but usually proposals to privatize education include a voucher system. In other words, tax payers would still pay a set amount per child, but parents are able to freely choose what kind of school they send their child to. If they wish to pay more than the voucher discounts, they are allowed to do that. The theory is that if parents are given the ability to choose, competition among schools will create an overall higher quality of education for all children, including the poor.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

Vouchers are a form of taxation without representation. Everybody has to pay, but the only citizens who will have a say over a private school are the ones who have children in it or an association with the church or association that established it. In the case of public schools, all citizens vote for the local school board and the state board of education. If the schools aren't being run to our satisfaction, we can speak out at public forums; we can vote for different candidates; we can even run for seats on those bodies. I don't want my tax money going to schools that teach "intelligent design" as science and crackpot versions of history, or say that people of my religious persuasion are going to hell. In places where vouchers have been tried, the results haven't been encouraging. Better-off parents got to send their children to good private schools at a cheaper rate. The only affordable private schools (affordable with vouchers, that is) were sectarian, and parents had to accept indoctrination of their children into that religion as the price of education. Most poor children did not get a better education, even so, and they did not do better in adulthood.
Why? Because the business "competition" models doesn't work in all industries, education included. Competition hasn't made universities academically better. Why would anyone think this would work at the K-12 level?

Kookamooka 7 years, 4 months ago

Private entities are only out to make money. They have no interest in the greater good. They only care about their bottom line.

Liberty275 7 years, 4 months ago

It cares about taking the money people work for.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

"They only care about serving their customers." Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!1111111 The biggest piece of horse puckey I have ever seen posted on this board.

llama726 7 years, 4 months ago

Completely false. They only care about serving their shareholders and earning profit.

llama726 7 years, 4 months ago

Cute thought. Maybe true for a small business. Not true for large corporations.

Tricky Gnosis 7 years, 4 months ago

Do you honestly believe non-profits are any different? Do you honestly believe that government agencies, given the choice between "the greater good" and "more money in the budget" will choose the greater good? If so, how do you explain the farce that is border security, the TSA, Medicare/Medicaid fraud, etc., etc.,etc.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 4 months ago

What do public schools care about? If private schools only cared about the bottom line, and the bottom line was improving education, well you hit the nail on the head.

What is this rich kid nonsense about anyway. You watch too many movies. Private schools are not always about wealth. The majority are schools where political correctness has not permeated the educational process rendering it neutered. Some are bare boned everybody helps to keep them running types.

There are still parents out there who will, and make no mistake about it, sacrifice so their children can learn in a certain environment.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

The basic premise of the argument seems sound to me - economic gains trickle up, not down.

Liberty275 7 years, 4 months ago

That explains why I deposit money in my employers bank account every other week. LOL.

gccs14r 7 years, 4 months ago

You completely miss what's happening there. You offer your services to an employer for less than you would earn privately doing the same job, in exchange for the employer acting as a broker for your services, presumably guaranteeing you a steadier income over time. The employer pockets the difference.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

And, if L275 gets more money in his/her paycheck, if he/she is in the low and middle sectors, that money will most likely circulate in the economy, benefiting many others.

If the boss gets more money, whether it does that or not is harder to say - they may offer L275 a raise or bonus, they may not. And the less the money circulates, the less benefit to others it is.

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

I'd be satisfied with "adequate", as defined by the legislature and required by the Supreme Court, but I think we won't even approach that level.

Fossick 7 years, 4 months ago

"“Suitable?” Is that all? ...He charges the Legislature with the task of defining what a “suitable” education is for our future Kansans. "

Brownback said suitable because he was quoting the Kansas Constitution:

Article VI 6. (b) The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.

In that he is perfectly correct: it is the legislators' job to define suitable - such as to suit; appropriate; fitting; becoming. - provision for finance, not the governor, not the court.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

The legislature did define it, and the KS Supreme Court required them to live up to that level.

As far as I know, they're not doing so, and certainly won't be if/when the stimulus money is gone, and not replaced, as Brownback stated.

Fossick 7 years, 4 months ago

The legislature could simply define it again, and I suspect they will. It is not as if life or finance is static.

But the point is that the rant shows an ignorance of what the governor was actually talking about, almost as if the person was simply looking for any stick with which to hit him. I know, perish the thought.

gccs14r 7 years, 4 months ago

"Article VI 6. (b) The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state."

It's not the education that's required to be suitable, it's the funding. I would hope that the guys who wrote the Kansas Constitution were aiming for at least a "good" education for the children of Kansas.

Fossick 7 years, 4 months ago

"I would hope that the guys who wrote the Kansas Constitution were aiming for at least a "good" education for the children of Kansas. "

Exactly correct, and you are correct that there's no constitutional requirement or discussion of "suitable education," and there's certainly no deference to "aubunblick an myers," weeslicket's post notwithstanding. The funding is to be suitable, fitting, appropriate, for the educational interests of the state. In regular-speak, the legislature organizes finances for public education. In politic-speak, the court does not.

This is why we have elections, people. The elected legislature is responsible not only for defining "suitable provision," "but "the educational interests of the state." If you don't like it, pick a better one next time.

JustNoticed 7 years, 4 months ago

Thank you, Fossick. Nice to find that information as I scroll down here to point out that "suitable" and "merely adequate" are not synonyms and the LTE writer's rant is really sort of pointless. Not that Brownback ISN'T a lunatic and tool of the devil.

weeslicket 7 years, 4 months ago

must disagree here. it really just leads to sore knees. (recommend anit-inflammatory. he he.)

George Lippencott 7 years, 4 months ago

If we want more for education where does it come from? Whose taxes do we raise?

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

If we want more for education, if, IF? How about giving education my taxes. I sure am tired of watching my taxes go to economic development plans that benefit the wealthy, don't end up creating jobs, don't even slow foreclosures but protect the poor beleaguered Koch brothers.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

A few ideas for finding more revenue that don't require raising taxes:

  1. Reduce/eliminate waste in government spending - the border "fence" has cost close to 1 billion dollars, and doesn't even work.
  2. Stop jailing non-violent offenders.
  3. Legalize all drug use, prostitution, and any other "victimless" crimes.
  4. Cut back the size and scope of our military so that it is serving to defend our country.
  5. Reform Social Security and Medicare by using means testing, and stop collecting separately for them (since they don't actually keep the money separate anyway).

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

A few more ideas, specific to the state of Kansas: Don't waste money on a lawsuit against the federal government over the recently enacted health care law. Don't waste money creating a new voter identification system to solve a problem of "election fraud" that doesn't exist. Don't create a new government office to find laws to repeal. Don't investigate women's health care providers in hopes of finding cases that can be used by the anti-abortion lobby to their own political ends. Eliminate the tax exemptions for high-end hunting expeditions and male enhancement drugs.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 4 months ago

Here's a prediction for the rest of Brownback's term: folks from the sinister side of the aisle will be getting wildly indignant over everything he says.

Fossick 7 years, 4 months ago

Going out on quite a limb there, Nostradamus. I'm not sure your reputation will ever recover when pace, bozo, and bea fall meekly in line behind Our Corporate Overlords(™).

Emily Campbell 7 years, 4 months ago

suit·a·ble   /ˈsutəbəl/ [soo-tuh-buhl]
–adjective such as to suit; appropriate; fitting; becoming. —Synonyms proper, befitting, seemly, apt.

booyalab 7 years, 4 months ago

A suitable public school system would be a miracle.

Ralph Reed 7 years, 4 months ago

Two things from Brownback's State of the State address: one applies directly to this LTE and one is ancillary. Brownback stated in broad terms, 1. "No child should pass the 4th grade without being able to read."

  1. "... let me briefly touch on the issue of what our Kansas constitution means when it speaks to the need of providing a 'suitable' education for our children. ... I invite this Legislature to define suitability ... This will provide us with a definition of what we need to undertake reform of our school finance formula and provide our school districts with stable, sustainable funding for the future."

/*/ The first point is ancillary. If a suitable education calls for all children being able to read before they pass 4th Grade, then by all means I'm for it. But...

Brownback is letting the Republican Party define a suitable education in Kansas. Hence a suitable education will be defined ideologically by legislators. No educators will even be in the discussion. I think they'll include the following: Sports - No, or only minimal cuts. Can't have little Johnny miss out on Football or Basketball. Manual arts (auto, metal and woodshop) - cut these. Foreign languages - Since we want Kansas to be an English only state our kids don't need to learn any foreign languages or culture. Libraries - cut these and let kids find what they need on the internet because everything out there is true. Music and Arts - cut these. (and so on).

@Megan Helm. About your comment on education funding. This from the KC Star online yesterday, "The state would spend $129 million more on K-12 schools ... overall, schools would receive $107 million less next year because of $200 million in lost federal stimulus funding ...." (http://www.kansascity.com/2011/01/13/2582456/schools-lose-in-proposed-kansas.html#ixzz1B80OQZVu)

Brownback say's he's increasing Education funding as he knows few read beyond the first few lines of any paragraph. In fact he's cutting education.


Brownback conveniently passes the buck to the Republican party. He knows that whatever they pass will come to him with a veto-proof majority so he'll have no choice but to sign the legislation. That way, when the Republicans do something embarrassing Kansas (again) he can say he had no choice but to sign the legislation. I doubt he'll even say he disagrees with anything when signing legislation.

Brownback also conveniently passes the buck to the Federal government. If people ask, he can say he increased education spending, but the nasty Federal government hurt us when they cut stimulus spending. He knows people won't remember he voted against the stimulus funding in the first place. In essence, he's proposing to stick it to education twice.

Here, Brownback is little more than an empty suit.

gccs14r 7 years, 4 months ago

  1. "No child should pass the 4th grade without being able to read."

That seems like a very low bar to clear. Whatever happened to being able to read by the end of first grade? By fourth grade, the kids should be writing essays.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 4 months ago

I think that's countered by the "no child left behind", whether or not he can read.

A friend of mine teaches in a community college, she teaches reading and she literally has college students reading at less than 8th grade level. Of course, they drop out right after football season if they don't flunk out anyway, since they're only there because of a football scholarship. It's very, very rare for any of them to actually graduate with a 2 year degree.

That's your Kansas tax dollars at work, providing football scholarships to students that can't read, and they're not even from Kansas!

And then, they end up dropping out anyway. Cutting things like that out of the Kansas budget would make a very big difference. It's been discussed within that community that it is a terrific waste of Kansas tax dollars, but that would cause some problems, because that community college needs those tax dollars to continue,,,, whatever it is they do.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

"No Child Left Behind" has created a situation in which schools are encouraged to cover up real deficiencies in order to get students through the tests. That's how graduates who passed the benchmarks of their grade level can still have inferior skills.
The American educational system seems to fall behind at the high school level. (That's why the community college students read at the 8th grade level, but not higher, RonHolzwarth.) I think that it's because school has become just the backdrop for the teenage social scene. The parents encourage this, placing extra-curriculars above academics, and the school administration has bought into the idea that only the "fun" things will keep kids coming to school at all. Parents complain that homework gets in the way of extra-curricular activities, teens' jobs, and "family time." So the necessary reinforcement of lessons doesn't occur. In countries that have high-quality K-12 education (and yes, this is public education!!), athletics, clubs, and social activities aren't offered under the auspices of the schools. Most countries also have a longer school year, without a long summer vacation.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Not only all of that.

But also the state has been underfunding education based on the legislature's own determination of the amount required, and the KS Supreme Court's ruling.

Kookamooka 7 years, 4 months ago

@ Ralph Reed. You hit the nail on the head. Megan Helm seems to be saying that the Republican legislature, (many of whom don't have a vested interest in Public Education because they either....1. No longer have children in the system. Or 2. Sent their kids to private schools or 3. Never had children to begin with) get to define suitability? I wonder how many legislators are active stakeholders in the public education system, personally. It's easy to define things for other people, especially when it doesn't effect you directly. Ahhhh. But the indirect pain of cutting education will be much worse for everyone. How short sighted.

weeslicket 7 years, 4 months ago

was governor brownback reading the kansas state constitution? or pre-reading it?

the aubunblick an myers study of some years ago defined what "a suitable education" really is. perhaps our duly elected leadership will see fit to re-define this understanding based on "not facts".

these reads are fun and instuctive in a distroted historicalistic sort of way: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/jun... http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/may/10/legislature_approves_school_finance_plan/?school_finance

anywhoo .... , just waiting to hear from the "strict constuctionists" folks, and their friends the "constitutional originalists"..

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

Being able to read by the 4th grade does seem to be a very low bar. I was reading by the time I was 5 years old. All four of my children were reading by that age as well. But then my mother taught me to read and I taught my children as well. (Although I have to admit that one taught herself to read using cassette tapes with read along books. By the time I went to teach her she had beat me to it..) However, it's quite obvious that all Brownback really cares about are the "three Rs". Well that and the sports programs. They'll cut funding for PE and still keep it in place for those football fields. He wants vouchers for private schools (read private Christian schools) despite the fact that the one I am closely familiar with taught that Manifest Destiny was a valid philosophy and gave support and credence to South African Apartheid. That was along with the mandatory training girls received on "being a Christian woman". At the same time the school refused to teach Algebra because it was "too expensive to buy the curriculum materials". Oddly enough the person I'm familiar with that went to that school flunked out of college after her first semester. But then she was never supposed to go to a public college. She was expected to go to a private Bible college that was a continuation of her former school (if she went to college at all). You see the way Brownback thinks no one is really supposed to be educated unless they are rich, Christian or male (preferably all three).

Kathy Theis-Getto 7 years, 4 months ago

You see the way Brownback thinks no one is really supposed to be educated unless they are rich, Christian or male (preferably all three).

Cait - you forgot to add caucasian to that list.

Fossick 7 years, 4 months ago

"But then my mother taught me to read and I taught my children as well."

And that is the nail on the head, and the #1 reason why school funding matters less than just about any other measurement (than football scores).

Let's assume for the sake of argument that all these NCLB tests measure actual education in schools in Kansas. You can bet dollars to donuts that the top 10% of scores and bottom 10% within any given school are more divergent than the difference between the top 10% and bottom 10% of schools. The thing most people miss is that those people within the school have the same amount of money spent on them*. Exactly the same amount. And yet that's where the biggest divergence is.

That divergence is not caused by money or lack of money, it's caused by parenting or its lack, intelligence or its lack, and work or its lack. The state cannot overcome those things by adding or subtracting marginal amounts to school budgets.

  • barring special needs, obviously

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

One of those children I taught to read is the student that flunked out of college after her first semester (see above). My ex-husband and I split up and he managed to get custody of her. He was responsible for her education at this "school". There are differences between schools and what they teach. Under Brownback's plan such schools would be funded to teach their wacked philosophies.

Fossick 7 years, 4 months ago

"There are differences between schools and what they teach."

Absolutely - I remember your story from before. I even read up on the philosophy you posted at the time - even realizing the limitations and biases of Wikipedia it's not my idea of education, really. And since I'm no friend of vouchers, it seems we have no argument there.

Those who start ahead can still fail, for many reasons. But you must admit that whatever failures were visited upon your daughter by herself and others were not related to public school funding or lack thereof; they were wholly related to how much value the parents (or parent in this case) assigned to education.

1029 7 years, 4 months ago

As long as they serve my kids tacos every Tuesday and Pizza every Friday, I'm cool with the schools. I really don't care. They seem to do good job.

tomatogrower 7 years, 4 months ago

Politicians have been trying to destroy public schools for a long time. First they started requiring that teachers have in service training, so the schools jumped through that hoop.

Then they gave them several hoops to jump through to make sure they were accredited, and the schools did it. I've seen the paperwork that the administration and teachers have to do for this hoop. It's not pretty, and the special education paperwork required is even worse.

Then they brought in NCLB. Teachers were suppose to be "highly qualified". Big surprise, most of them were, and the few who didn't have enough hours in their field easily went back to college to pick up those hours, even though they had been successfully teaching that subject for years. They already knew the material, so the college classes were a cinch.

Then they made the schools test the children, and of course they did what they had to do. They taught the children to pass the tests. Yes, they taught to the test, because how fair is it to test a subject no one has taken. That's called a pretest. Most schools have raised their test scores simply by bribing the kids into taking the tests seriously, either by rewarding them for doing well, or putting them into remedial classes for doing poorly. That ended up weeding out the students who just answered everything B.

The only reason most schools are considered "on probation" is because of the special ed population (note: private schools do not have to accept special ed students). The politicians expect a child who has special needs to perform as well as other children their age, without adapting their tests to their special needs. One special ed teacher I used to work for told me she was worried they wouldn't even let her test a blind student with a braille test. She had to jump through a bunch of hoops just to make that happen.

If politicians would have stayed out of the schools and let teachers use their time to teach, then education would improve. Oh and if principals would do their jobs evaluating teachers honestly, instead of how good a coach they are, we would have fewer bad teachers. In fact, even though it would cost more, why not hire people just to coach, not to teach. I'm not saying there aren't coaches who have been good teachers, but the time they have to devote to coaching takes away time from their teaching. Make them choose which one they want to do. Then we will have better athletes and better students.

verity 7 years, 4 months ago

Out of the ballpark, tomatogrower.

I had something peripheral to do with the state ed testing at one time and heard complaints from teachers---one was that since they had to teach to the test there was no time for teaching special units that she had taught before that the kids had really enjoyed. She stated that teaching was not fun anymore. I fear that these restrictions are causing good teachers to leave the profession and also lead to student boredom. In my experience as a student, if a teacher was excited about a subject, they made it interesting no matter what it was. And that is what makes a good teacher.

Also writing, editing, printing and mailing the tests costs many thousands of dollars.

Pouring more money into something of course doesn't automatically improve it, but in many cases money could be more judiciously spent.

xclusive85 7 years, 4 months ago

So tomatogrower, I have to agree with most of your post. However, the principals doing their jobs evaluating teachers may be a little off. First, principals do not get to decide whether or not to terminate a teacher. The superintendent does not get to decide whether or not to terminate a teacher. While they may have much imput into the decision, the school board makes the final decision.

I saw this first hand. In a school district near Wichita, there was a superintendent that did not have their contract renewed because of him pushing to have certain teachers replaced. Many people liked the teachers, as did the superintendent, but they were not performing up to expectations. In the three years that the superintendent was at this particular school district, the school budget went from being in the red to the black, standardized test scores improved every year, a higher percentage of students graduated, and a higher percentage of graduates attended college. What else was this superintendent to do? I say the blame on evaluating teachers and determining their fate lies with the school board.

nascar 7 years, 4 months ago

Tomato grower you have hit multiple nails on their heads. Thanks for sharing it in terms that others can understand....again!

Orwell 7 years, 4 months ago

Well, see there's this thing called "separation of powers." it's kinda one of the foundations of constitutional government. When the state constitution says "suitable provision" it becomes the responsibility of the courts to determine whether the legislature has met the standard.

The Legislature isn't allowed to define constitutional terminology by statute; otherwise, all our constitutional protections would be at risk every time the legislature meets.

weeslicket 7 years, 4 months ago

no. but thankfully, we can compartmentalize each word. "suitable" refers to the state curriculum; and then the cost of its implementation (which is what the argument is all about). while "uniform" is an unintended consequence of the state testing regimens mandated by the NCLB legislation. (a reminder: the mandated reforms, including the costs of testing, were not funded according to the legislative requirements (kind of like kpers)).

(and a prediction: within your lifetimes, essentially every school in america will be labelled "failing" according to the NCLB legislative performance standards.)

think about that for a little while, please.

weeslicket 7 years, 4 months ago

none2: you cannot just keep throwing more money at education

we as a nation, and most certainly as a state, have never "thrown money" at education. the augunblick and myers study (commissioned and paid for by our duly elected leadership) established the "suitable" cost of a "suitable" education.

now my arugement is simply this: 1. when the state of kansas starts investing MORE money than established by legislative investigation (augunblick and myers) -- then i will listen more closely to the whole "throwing money at education" argument. 2. in the meantime, this state has been WITH-HOLDING adequate funding.
quite the opposite of money-throwing.

independent_rebel 7 years, 4 months ago

The number one problem that schools face, and our society in general, is paying for the ever-growing entitlement society.

Public education is certainly not free for my kids, but it is are for some of my friends who could work a full-time job, but choose to work part-time to in order to get free and reduced school fees, breakfast and lunches, transportation, sports scholarships, etc.. Yet they can afford cell phones, ipods, high-speed internet, cool shoes, clothes, etc...all because they know how to work the system.

Then there are the illegals and those who are and will forever live off the rest of us by never "needing" to even try to hold a job.

We need to cut them all off of our dime. No more free and reduced lunches or breakfast. Feed your damn kids. No more extra money for extra kids you may create. No more blanket hand outs to illiegals, homeless, etc.. Prioritize the money based on need and circumstance. Make them prove they are trying before giving them a penny, and cut them off before they feel entitled to living off the rest of us.

I'm all for helping out someone who has kids but just lost a job (and can prove they are trying to find a new one). I still say help should first come from private sources, but if my taxpayer money is to go to a homeless person, let it never go to the career, come-from-out-of-town homeless Lawrence is full of. The should get nothing from the public. Money is wasted on enabling these types of people when it could really make a difference to someone who is just experiencing a temporary setback.

I just get sick of the whole money=success when it comes to education, solving the homeless issue. It's a lie. Head Start, for example, hasn't made any difference statistically. Sad, but true. Great idea, but if the parents at home don't foster a learning atmosphere, programs such as Head Start are a giant vaccum of funds.

Real success will only come when people are forced to learn to do for themselves and their own children, and not be dependent on--and expect--others to pay it for them.

However, there is a cost, a real cost, that must be funded. Let's see how much of that can be found by eliminating most, if not all, free and reduced breakfasts, lunches, school fees, etc..

weeslicket 7 years, 4 months ago

nice. you went to school in kansas? in the us? nice.

:: and this is exactly how the demise will take place. : one data point at at time.

spock says: "fascinating"

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