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Archive for Saturday, July 30, 2011

Statehouse Live: Education supporters decry funding cuts to public schools

July 30, 2011, 3:03 p.m. Updated July 30, 2011, 3:25 p.m.

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Gloria Phenix (left) and Marilyn Ault, both of Topeka, display signs on Saturday at a rally to support school funding. The rally was held outside the Capitol.

Gloria Phenix (left) and Marilyn Ault, both of Topeka, display signs on Saturday at a rally to support school funding. The rally was held outside the Capitol.

State Rep. Barbara Ballard (left) and State Board of Education Commissioner Sue Storm, D-Overland Park, talk Saturday during rally in support of public schools.

State Rep. Barbara Ballard (left) and State Board of Education Commissioner Sue Storm, D-Overland Park, talk Saturday during rally in support of public schools.

Between 200 and 300 people braved the heat Saturday for an outdoor rally at the Capitol to show support of public school funding.

Between 200 and 300 people braved the heat Saturday for an outdoor rally at the Capitol to show support of public school funding.

— Several hundred supporters of public education on Saturday criticized state funding cuts to schools and sounded the alarm about Gov. Sam Brownback's agenda.

Kathy Cook, executive director of Kansas Families for Education, said Brownback's stated intention to cut the state income tax would reduce revenue available for education.

"Our schools would face cuts like they've never seen before," Cook said to rally-goers outside the Capitol.

Brownback has said Kansas' tax structure needs to be changed to attract more businesses and improve the economy.

And House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said next year's fight in the Legislature will be between "restoring cuts to eduction or tax cuts for big business."

Since Brownback has taken office, base state aid has been cut by $232 per student bringing it to $3,780 per student, which is the lowest level since 1999. Brownback has defended his actions, saying they were necessary to balance the state budget in tough economic times.

Mark Desetti, with the Kansas National Education Association, said Brownback and the Legislature have approved "20th century funding for a 21st century education."

Brownback has also said he wants to overhaul the school finance system because it is frequently under legal challenge. School supporters at the rally said they didn't see anything good coming out of that.

A group of Lawrence teachers attended the event.

Lori Greenfield, a fourth-grade teacher at Prairie Park Elementary, said budget cuts are forcing larger class sizes, which makes it more difficult to reach each student.

"It's all a numbers game versus being about the students," she said.

David Reber, a biology teacher at Free State High School, said he was tired of public officials "undermining and acting against the interests of public education."

He said what is happening in Kansas is part of a national trend by politicians on the right "to degrade public schools."

Deena Burnett, president of the Lawrence Education Association, and a teacher at West Middle School, said people need to wake up.

"If we don't get out of our homes and become vocal, everything will be privatized," she said.

The rally was held in conjunction with similar events across the nation.

It was sponsored by Kansas Families for Education, Kansas NEA, and the American Federation of Teachers-Kansas. Several other unions showed support at the rally.

Comments

Gandalf 3 years, 5 months ago

Brownback has also said he wants to overhaul the school finance system because it is frequently under legal challenge. School supporters at the rally said they didn't see anything good coming out of that.

Brownie name one thing that you have done that hasn't resulted in a legal challenge.

KSManimal 3 years, 5 months ago

Brownback(tothedarkages) has assembled a task force to overhaul the finance system. Can anyone name even ONE person from that task force? No?

Brownback(tothedarkages) has kept those names secret (presumably, so as not to incriminate the Koch bros....). One would think that with something so important as public education, that account for more than half the state budget, it would be a transparent process.

Of course, Brownback(tothedarkages) and his kind ALWAYS hide what they're doing. Otherwise, the public might figure out what's really going on.

kansanjayhawk 3 years, 5 months ago

why make personal attacks on the governor? He is doing his best to bring educational reform to our state. Ther problem is not money alone it is how the money is distributed remember 65 cents of every dollar spent from the state general fund goes to fund educational programs in Kansas.

KSManimal 3 years, 5 months ago

It makes little difference what % of the budget goes to education when the overall revenues are slashed & burned. 65% if diddily squat is still diddily squat.

kansanjayhawk 3 years, 5 months ago

except that overall spending has not declined...

KSManimal 3 years, 5 months ago

While we all appreciate your parroting of Koch-puppet Trabert's lines, those who can think are seeing right through it.

You are absolutely right that in RAW DOLLARS the overall spending hasn't declined. However, this statement made by itself is deliberately misleading. There are MORE STUDENTS now. When you look at dollars per student you will see a much different (and more accurate) picture.

Current per-pupil funding of Kansas' public schools is at 1990's levels. This is RAW DOLLARS and NOT adjusted for inflation.

If you think inflation doesn't make matters worse, ask yourself how much a gallon of gas cost in the mid-1990's and what it costs now. You think districts don't have greater per-pupil transportation costs than they did 15+ years ago? You think anyone believes you?

Look at health insurance costs now compared to 15+ years ago. You think employee benefits cost school districts the same now as back then? You think anyone believes you?

Other factors also increase the per pupil costs for districts. For example, about 40% of Kansas' students now qualify for free/reduced lunches. When students come to school from such disadvantaged backgrounds, it requires more resources to meet their needs.

The Koch sock puppets and astroturf front groups are masters of misleading people with facts. Take a look at this:

http://www.examiner.com/k-12-in-topeka/figures-don-t-lie-what-about-kpi

chootspa 3 years, 5 months ago

It's not like many of the perceived problems with our education system could be traced to unequal funding and a system of pure local control would exacerbate that problem.

KSManimal 3 years, 5 months ago

You may think local financing is a great idea. However, the state constitution says otherwise. Public education is a state-level responsibility. In fact, I believe it is the ONLY item in the budget for which funding is a constitutional requirement.

Fortunately, those who drafted the document understood that financial resources vary tremendously between communities; and that it was in everyone's best interest to provide an education to ALL Kansas kids - not just the wealthy ones.

keith manies 3 years, 5 months ago

Don't criticize the LEADER! The LEADER knows whats best for Kansas. NOT!

getreal 3 years, 5 months ago

Each year that our schools are not properly funded puts us at risk. You only get one chance at 1st grade, and if you are a struggling student in a class of 30, there is a good possibility that you will not receive the attention you need. It's time to fund our schools, it is a state responsibility, not a local responsibility.

Fossick 3 years, 5 months ago

"Mark Desetti, with the Kansas National Education Association, said Brownback and the Legislature have approved '20th century funding for a 21st century education.'"

It's actually 20th Century funding for a 19th Century education, as the system with which we are presently saddled was designed in Prussia in the 1800s and transplanted here by Horace Mann et all in that century. But whatever.

Soapbox 3 years, 5 months ago

W H I N Y L I B E R A L S ,,,,,,,,,,BOO HOO HOO......BUY WHAT YOU NEED, NOT WHAT YOU WANT. DO NOT FINANCE THE FUTURE ON THEIR ........backs! GIVE ME, GIVE ME .......WHINY

kansanjayhawk 3 years, 5 months ago

When we already are spending 65 cents of every dollar on education I think we need to look at the Administrative costs and what we are getting for all of this spending. We are all supportive of great educations for our children but we know that money alone is not the answer we need true reform in education.

KSManimal 3 years, 5 months ago

It makes little difference what % of the budget goes to education when the overall revenues are slashed & burned. 65% if diddily squat is still diddily squat.

(Is there an echo in here?)

" We are all supportive of great educations for our children but we know that money alone is not the answer we need true reform in education."

That is the basic argument put forth by folks who want to appear supportive of public education, yet are too cheap and/or greedy and/or Koch-washed to pay for it. The fact is that nothing is free. Everyone points to administrative costs without having a clue what % of funding really goes to administration. Everyone says we need "reform", without defining the term. How about some specifics?

How about tell us what admin really costs and how you would cut it and still have districts functioning? How about you define "reform", and explain how you would "reform" without spending more money? Cite some research or other real data to support your "reform" ideas - do they actually work?

Take your time.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 5 months ago

You ask some good questions. And I don't have the answers. But it seems that simply throwing money at the problem isn't getting our kids a better education. Let me ask you the question then, what % should be going to education if 65% is not enough?

KSManimal 3 years, 5 months ago

"it seems that simply throwing money at the problem isn't getting our kids a better education."

Actually, it IS. You just have to look at real data instead of listening to Koch's sock puppets: http://www.examiner.com/k-12-in-topeka/funding-increases-and-academic-results-when-it-comes-to-student-achievement-money-talks

It isn't a matter of what % of the total budget is enough. That % will vary depending on what else is in the budget. What matters is the total amount spent. There have been multiple cost studies done - at the request of the legislature - to determine the cost of providing the depth, breadth, and quality of public education we want.

The legislature, however, didn't like those answers (all of which showed current funding - before the recent cuts - to be about a billion dollars short). So, they ignored their own cost studies and cut funding. They got sued, and they lost. Now, they've decided that the "budget crisis" is an excuse to ignore court rulings and cut even further. They've been sued again, outcome TBA.....

Read about the current lawsuit here: http://www.examiner.com/k-12-in-topeka/schools-for-fair-funding-files-lawsuit-on-election-day

Peter Macfarlane 3 years, 5 months ago

There should be enough money in the budget to insure that every child, including the specials and those at risk, experiences success in school. This especially means that funding programs for early intervention of at-risk kids.

rgh 3 years, 5 months ago

You have to remember that Brownback's kids have gone to private schools so he's never faced the challenges that everyday folks like us face. I guess everyone that voted for him can afford to send their children to private schools as well because you'll need to so if cuts continue. It's getting to the critical stage for public education and reasonable funding. Our legislature has cut and cut. Good luck to those districts who have tapped out their Local Option Budget and been taxed to death with nowhere to turn.

kansanjayhawk 3 years, 5 months ago

65 cents of every dollar is alot of money--I have to believe that this is a distribution problem-- we need to reduce administrative costs and get the monies to the classroom and the teachers.

KSManimal 3 years, 5 months ago

"65 cents of every dollar is alot of money--I have to believe that this is a distribution problem"

That's exactly what the Koch propaganda machine wants you to conclude. 65 cents of every dollar might SOUND like a lot...after all it is over half. But, if you're only GIVEN a dollar...and what you need to buy with the $0.65 allotment now costs $1.75....then you're suckin' eggs.

Here's how the Koch propaganda machine operates: http://www.examiner.com/k-12-in-topeka/figures-don-t-lie-what-about-kpi

"we need to reduce administrative costs and get the monies to the classroom and the teachers"

That's another common one-liner, but how do you define "to the classroom"? Do busing costs count? How about the electric bill? What about fuel for the furnace? Can't very well teach kids who aren't at school, while the school is dark and freezing. The cost of those things has skyrocketed recently, yet schools are expected to function - with continuous improvement - while real dollar funding is cut back 15+ years.

It's not a distribution problem.

kansanjayhawk 3 years, 5 months ago

This is not a view from Koch it is a view from conservatives across Kansas who believe that we need to reform education and part of that reform involves reducing administrative costs. More money to the teachers and the classroom and less to adminstrators!

KSManimal 3 years, 5 months ago

I notice that, except for my linking you with the Koch bros, you completely ignored everything I said and every question I posed to you. Instead, you chose to simply repeat your original statement; again without clarification or supporting evidence.

Fine. Let's go with your assertion that you're sharing a view held by conservatives across Kansas. I'm sure you are. However, just because a lot of folks share a view doesn't make it accurate (or even close to accurate).

Take a look at the budget for Lawrence Public Schools, here, on page 6: http://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/School%20Finance/budget/Budget_at_a_Glance/10-11_Summary/Profile497-2011.pdf

Notice that the TOTAL administrative spending accounts for 5% of the district's budget. Now, if we completely eliminated administration from the district, we might be able to buy some cool stuff for each classroom, or give teachers each a decent raise. Too bad there wouldn't be anyone in the payroll office to cut the checks.....

So tell us please, how would YOU work miracles by reducing that 5% administrative line-item and moving that money "to the teachers and the classroom"?

kansanjayhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

The line item i would suggest does not catch all of those costs...

texburgh 3 years, 5 months ago

Okay, I guess I need to weigh in after reading this 65 cents hooey so many times. Fact one: 65 cents of every tax dollar DOES NOT go to education. Education accounts for just over 50% of the state budget, a little more when adding in higher Ed. Fact two: this obsession on "65%" is indeed right wing (aka Koch) BS. It comes from a right wing pretend issue - that they don't want to fund education unless 65% goes "to the classroom." They use figures that drop all student and instructional support expenditures out of their calculations to falsely bolster their claims. An analysis done for the Kansas legislature shows that when one includes those expenditures, Kansas schools spend well over 65% on students. Administrative expenses are a small percentage of the pie. Those support services include things like counselors, library-media services, paraprofessional assistants, materials and supplies, professional development training to improve teaching, etc. Fact three: when talking about administration, most people don't separate "administrators" from other non-instructional services such as custodians, transportation, food service, liability and property insurance, utility bills, etc. All of these must be provided and many of them increase far more rapidly than the consumer price index. Just think for a moment of your own gasoline costs or utility bills. Fact four: Money does matter. The legislature ordered an audit of how money was used and what results came about after they were forced by the supreme court to increase funding. Their audit found a one-to-one correspondence between increased funding and increased student performance. Fact five: Kansas outperforms nearly every other state in student outcomes. You can choose SAT, ACT, the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), whatever measure you can think of, and Kansas is near the top.

So please be specific. Don't just say "cut administration" without being specific about what administration is and exactly what the alleged fat is. When you can show us some administrative fat, I'll be the first one to back you up.

Jimo 3 years, 5 months ago

"Brownback has said Kansas' tax structure needs to be changed to attract more businesses and improve the economy."

Business isn't going to come to a Kansas with lousy schools and a poorly educated populace.

Brownback makes an error common to many on the right: over-emphasizing the effect of taxes on business decisions to the exclusion of all else. If low taxes were the be-all and end-all of business, Somalia ("Investment Wonderland") would be on the cover of Fortune magazine.

newmedia 3 years, 5 months ago

What's the beef? I thought Lawrence teachers were just voted a raise for next school year. And while their at it, how about tax cuts for small business!

SouthWestKs 3 years, 5 months ago

Found this in a SWKs local newspaper by a school board.. Voted to adopt the annual waiver of the generally accepted principals of accounting.. Boy this gives you a warm & fuzzy feeling.. Has your school board done this??

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 5 months ago

Good. There are too many highly-paid principals anyway.

By the way, thanks for contributing to the Lawrence economy through your posting on the LJW site.

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