Archive for Monday, March 28, 2011

Statehouse Live: Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal seeks to push education finance provision

March 28, 2011


— House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, on Monday pushed for approval of a bill aimed at putting the Kansas Legislature in a better position to fight a school finance lawsuit.

“These are the rules of engagement once you get in litigation,” O’Neal told the House Education Budget Committee.

A lawsuit has been filed by a group of 63 school districts that alleges the state has violated the Kansas Constitution by inadequately funding education.

A 2006 legal settlement before the Kansas Supreme Court produced a three-year school funding plan, but since then school funding has been cut by more than $300 million. Legislators are considering further cuts to schools for the next school year.

Under House Bill 2397, the court would have to base its judgment on the current lawsuit on whether the funds appropriated by the Legislature were adequate to cover the costs of required areas of instruction.

But school advocates said O’Neal’s definition of required education costs was too narrow because it didn’t include many costs that school districts experience, such as buying insurance and providing student transportation.

And the bill states that in determining adequacy of funding, state appropriations for federally required programs would not be considered by the court.

That raised questions about whether the state could shirk its responsibility to fund federally required special education. But O’Neal said the state would continue funding special education.

Rep. Lana Gordon, R-Topeka and chair of the Education Budget Committee, said she was unsure when the panel would work on O’Neal’s bill.


Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 1 month ago

Good to see the Speaker continues to focus on creating jobs and not petty political stunts.

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

Every day Kansans ask themselves how they could do less to educate their children. I'm so glad he's on the case to help us out on this one.

question4u 7 years, 1 month ago

Why should the Legislature have to "fight" a school finance lawsuit in the first place? What kind of legislature "fights" to decrease the quality of education? It makes sense to fight to improve the efficiency of education; fight to assure that every citizen receives the opportunity to be educated; fight to raise the quality of instruction; fight to raise the national rankings of the state's schools; fight to keep Kansans intellectually competitive with the rest of the nation and with students in China and India; or fight for any number of other improvements – but fight to avoid funding schools at a level that the Legislature's own study identified as appropriate?

Mike O'Neal's place in Kansas history: "He fought to lower the standards of education for all but the wealthiest of Kansans."

Synjyn Smythe 7 years, 1 month ago

How do we not all owe our children a quality education? Among the many things tax dollars should fund, it seems that this should be at the top of anyone's list.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

RINO's do not invest in jobs.

They only seek to give away our tax dollars to wealthy tax dollar moochers aka corporate america. Under the guise that giving away tax dollars will produce jobs.

Where's the hard evidence after years and years and years of corporate socialism?

Performing wealthy corporate socialism was not working before...

Fraud certainly was very important in the housing bubble of recent years. And Madoff bilked his marks out of only $50 billion, while trillions were lost in the housing bubble.

Bubbles involve actual investments in real or financial assets—housing in the years since 2000. People invest believing that the price of the assets will continue to rise; as long as people keep investing, the price does rise. Once prices start to fall, panic sets in and the later investors lose.

A bubble is similar to a Ponzi scheme: early participants can do well while later ones incur losses; it is based on false expectations; and it ultimately falls apart. But there need be no fraudulent operator at the center of a bubble.

Often, government plays a role in bubbles. The housing bubble was in part generated by the Federal Reserve maintaining low interest rates. Easy money meant readily obtainable loans and, at least in the short run, low monthly payments. Also, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan denied the housing bubble’s existence—not fraud exactly, but deception that kept the bubble going.

In addition, government regulatory agencies turned a blind eye to the highly risky practices of financial firms, practices that both encouraged the development of the bubble and made the impact all the worse when it burst. Moreover, the private rating agencies (e.g., Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s) were complicit. Dependent on the financial institutions for their fees, they gave excessively good ratings to these risky investments. Perhaps not fraud in the legal sense, but certainly misleading.

And, 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.

So, no, a bubble and a Ponzi scheme are not the same. But they have elements in common. Usually, however, the losers in a Ponzi scheme are simply the direct investors, the schemer’s marks. A bubble like the housing bubble can wreak havoc on all of us.

Arthur MacEwan is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a Dollars & Sense Associate.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

What is Brownback doing with the money they are stealing from the public school education fund?

Where are these tax dollars going? Taxpayers want to know.

Are they funding private schools with our tax dollars? What about accountability and transparency?

Accountability Proves To Be Elusive In its official evaluation of the federally funded Public Charter School Program, Evaluation of the Public Charter Schools Program: Final Report, the U.S. Department of Education found that many charter school authorizers lack the capacity to adequately oversee charter school operations, often lack authority to implement formal sanctions, and rarely invoke the authority they do have to revoke or not renew a charter.

Where charters have been revoked or not renewed, the decision has been linked more to noncompliance with state and federal regulations and financial problems than with academic performance.

Accountability is also lacking in oversight for federal charter school programs. According to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Charter Schools: To Enhance Education's Monitoring and Research, More Charter School-Level Data Are Needed, released in January 2005, the U.S. Department of Education has little data to ensure that charter schools receive the federal funds that have been allocated to them in a timely manner, or to evaluate the performance of those schools.

GAO recommended that the U.S. Department of Education collect basic data from recipients of federal charter school funds, such as the number of charter schools actually opened with program funds. GAO also advised that the Department include a look at the effect of states' oversight approaches in its evaluation of charter schools.

References NEA Policy on Charter Schools - Policy statement adopted by the 2001 Representative Assembly.

Evaluation of the Public Charter Schools Program: Final Report - Department of Education study (2004) of the federally funded program found that charter schools in five states were less likely than public schools to meet state performance standards.

Charter Schools: To Enhance Education's Monitoring and Research, More Charter School-Level Data Are Needed - A report by the Government Accountability Office recommended that the U.S. Department of Education collect basic data from recipients of federal charter school funds

ohohmrbill 7 years, 1 month ago

Gulen Movement Science Academy Sister School investigated by the FBI Also Joshua Hendricks who was once a supporter of the movement now speaks out. The Gulenist Board members of of Daisy all claim they are not connected to Gulen and the Gulen Movement. part one part two part three Feel free to circulate this to all parents , teacher and school board members. teachers need to understand that if it isn't stopped now you will be unemployed even longer. Is this another job that Americans do not want to do?

William Weissbeck 7 years, 1 month ago

Maybe this is a simple solution: determine the percentage of students currently in private education in Kansas. Presumably, most are there for religious reasons, and some for exclusivity. A gauge for the adequacy of public education is if it attracts those in the middle/upper middle class that would/might otherwise opt for private education if it was more price competitive. The state should then strive to maintain a funding level for public education that attracts the teachers and provides the programs to preserve the same level of enrollment in public schools as it currently exists. In other words, if 90 percent are currently enrolled in public schools - economics says that you should continue to attract that same enrollment level so long as you are providing the same level of product/education. Above all else, we must avoid the education caste system as it evolved in Britain and the disastrous private/public system that evolved in the South in response to desegregation. Either we accept that a public education is the bulwark of a democratic government and a vibrant economy, or we just start treating it as just some other "government program" interchangeable with "guns and butter."

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

Market popularity isn't always a true measure of quality. According to objective measurements, private schools do not provide better outcomes when corrected for things like socioeconomic status and education level of the parents. Private schools are not cheaper and often use different accounting methods which hide the true per pupil cost (which usually is more than tuition.)

William Weissbeck 7 years, 1 month ago

I realize my point is a little obtuse, but the idea is to keep the same level of enrollment in public schools under the assumption that if the quality of education is the same, equivalent, better than private education, it will continue to attract the upper middle class and upper classes who could afford to opt for private education. That would be some indication that you have a good public education system.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Unfortunately, there's more at work in decision making than the quality of the schools.

There are social, and status considerations at work as well.

For example, my sister chooses to send her kids to private school rather than public school, even though she believes in public education, because her kids would be in a very small minority, racially speaking.

William Weissbeck 7 years, 1 month ago

OK, but still the overriding goal must be not to make public education unattractive to the overwhelming majority of the population, including not creating urban schools that are racially unattractive.

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