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Archive for Monday, May 23, 2011

Statehouse Live: Kansas education officials say school cuts will hurt student performance

May 23, 2011, 9:58 a.m. Updated May 23, 2011, 2:53 p.m.

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— While Gov. Sam Brownback and other Republicans praised the state budget, education officials say the $100 million in cuts to schools will jeopardize student performance.

“It is important for school leaders, parents, patrons and state officials to understand the impact of the downward spiral in education funding,” John Heim, executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards, said recently.

“There is no way to avoid the fact this budget will damage the programs that have helped more students reach higher levels of achievement and create the need for significant reductions in staff.”

Under the budget proposal approved by the Legislature this month and on Brownback’s desk, base state aid will be cut $232 per student, to a 10-year low of $3,780 per student. That is 5.8 percent lower than last year and 14 percent below 2008-09 when cutting started as the recession unfolded.

General funding per pupil, which includes additional funds for special education, bi-lingual, vocational programs and transportation, will be $6,474 per pupil, which is 11 percent less than four years ago.

Heim said school boards across the state will be forced to cut more personnel, close schools, raise fees and use emergency reserves. Since the 2008-09 school year, districts have cut 2,295 positions, about 3 percent of the total.

In addition, the budget will cut Kan-ed, the program that provides Internet connectivity and technology support for schools, colleges, libraries and hospitals, from $10 million per year to $6 million per year.

Brownback, a Republican, is expected to sign the budget into law. The measure was passed earlier this month with only Republican support, and the base state aid per pupil level is what Brownback had proposed at the state of the legislative session.

Supporters of the budget plan said it was the best that could be done with the state facing a projected $500 million revenue shortfall in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“We got right to work on balancing the state budget and in conjunction with the Kansas Legislature, took the more than $500 million deficit and turned it into a $50 million ending balance that prioritizes the core functions of government,” Brownback said after the budget was approved.

The Lawrence school district is looking at cuts of $3 million in the coming school year, compared with $4.6 million this year, and $3 million in the previous year.

Planned cuts in Lawrence include closing Wakarusa Valley School, eliminating two teaching positions, and using contingency funds.

Comments

Ralph Reed 3 years, 7 months ago

From the article: " 'We got right to work on balancing the state budget and in conjunction with the Kansas Legislature, took the more than $500 million deficit and turned it into a $50 million ending balance that prioritizes the core functions of government,' Brownback said after the budget was approved."


Brownstripe's goal is to keep people uneducated and uninformed so they won't be able to cast an informed vote.


Heard in the guv'ner's office. Brownback: Hey Kris, we killed education this year. Who do we want to destroy next year?

KKKobach: How 'bout them pesky lib'rals down river in Lawrence, Sam? Let's start by keeping their gas prices artificially high, 18 to 20 cents more than the rest of the state, and make 'em go broke.

handley 3 years, 7 months ago

When other industrial nations are expanding their education by leaps and bounds we are putting ours in the trash can.

notanota 3 years, 7 months ago

No, the "best you can do" with that budget shortfall is raise tax revenue to pay for core government services instead of passing the debt to the next generation in a way it's much more difficult to repay.

Dave Trabert 3 years, 7 months ago

This article fails to mention that total state spending on K-12 will increase by more than $100 million next year. Mandatory spending increases on school employee retirement benefits, special education and school bond payments prompted a reduction in the starting point of the funding formula (base state aid) but legislators also passed a law allowing districts to make up the difference in base state aid. Districts are allowed to transfer carryover cash balances from a variety of funds for operational purposes – and all but one district started this year with enough money in those funds to do so. Most, in fact, had more than $1,000 per-pupil in those funds. Districts have the ability to avoid the layoffs mentioned in this article, so why did the author and those interviewed fail to mention it? For example, SB 111 allows USD 497 to transfer $18.2 million in carryover cash for current operations. KSDE does not post carryover cash balances for every fund and district but it is available at http://www.kansasopengov.org/SchoolDistricts/CarryoverCashBalance/tabid/1490/Default.aspx

This headline of the article says student performance will be impacted but offers nothing other than one person's opinion. The facts tell a completely different story. KSDE says total K-12 funding increased by $2.5 billion between 1998 and 2009 but the U.S. Dept. of Education says the percentage of students who read proficiently is unchanged - and at an unacceptably low level (35% for 4th grade, 33% for 8th grade). See full results at http://nationsreportcard.gov/

The Kansas education industry wants us to believe that spending drives achievement but the facts say otherwise. We've tried 'just spend more'...now it's time to try other proven options like school choice.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

More distortion from the Koch brothers' shill.

How much money will they pay you to support transferring money out of the schools and into their pockets?

notanota 3 years, 7 months ago

Dave Tabert, who isn't an educator, but is a paid Koch spokesperson, wants us to believe that funding doesn't affect outcomes. It does. Notice how Dave made a nice distortion in leaving out that Kansas test scores were ABOVE average. It wouldn't have helped the propter hoc argument.

Education funding levels do matter.

Education Funding and Low-Income Children: A Review of Current Research. Carey, Kevin (2002). Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Washington, DC

Targeted Funding for Educationally Disadvantaged Students: A Regression Discontinuity Estimate of the Impact on High School Student AchievementDetail Only Available . By: Henry, Gary T.; Fortner, C. Kevin; Thompson, Charles L.. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, v32 n2 p183-204 Jun 2010.

How Much Does Funding Matter? An Analysis of Elementary and Secondary School Performance in Missouri, 1990-2004Detail Only Available . By: Venteicher, Jerome. Journal of Educational Research & Policy Studies, v5 n2 p39-65 Fall 2005. .

Dave Trabert 3 years, 7 months ago

Yes, Kansas scores above the national average. The problem is that we compare well in a national that doesn't do a very good job of getting kids to their full potential. When I do a full presentation on the subject, that's actually the starting point because parents need to know that being above the national average isn't saying much (unless you don't want parents to know the truth).

According to The Nation's Report Card published by the U.S. Dept. of Ed, 35% of 4th graders are Proficient in Reading. The national average is 32%. Massachusetts has the highest proficiency level at 47%. That means less than half of all 4th graders are proficient in the best state in the nation!

I know there are some academics who believe spending is what drives achievement but there are at least as many who believe just the opposite. (See Eric Hanuskek at Stanford's Hoover Institute for an extensive national review in 'Schoolhouses, Courthouses and Statehouses' or K-State's Florence Neymotin's specific study of Kansas In Kansas; even the U.S. Dept. of Education looked at Kansas and concluded that the state's large spending increases hadn't improved achievement). As outlined in my original post, the facts clearly demonstrate that large spending increases haven't gotten kids even close to where they should be.

I'd love to know whether you think it is acceptable that only a third of students are proficient in Reading. Is it acceptable that roughly 25% are Below Basic (a polite way of saying functionally illiterate)? How many more generations of kids should be thrown away while waiting for 'just spend more' to inch toward acceptable levels of profciency?

We need to stop finding excuses to keep following the one-track spending theory of raising achievement and start implementing school choice and other proven methods.

phsxtchr 3 years, 7 months ago

You are basing these wild accusations on one set of data Mr. Trabert? According to the state's own reading assessments, the percentage of students at or above proficiency in 2004 was 71% and in 2010 it was 86%. That's a 15% increase. How do you and the Koch Machine explain that? http://online.ksde.org/rcard/

In addition, a closer look at the NEAP test shows that the test's definition of the level of "proficient" does not equate to doing "grade level work". Rather, the test's "basic" level corresponds to "grade level work" (http://pareonline.net/pdf/v12n5.pdf). In other words, those students at the NEAP "basic" level and above are reading at grade level or higher. And the percentage of Kansas students at this level is 71% (closely matching the state assessment results). So, to claim that the 25% that are reading below grade level are "functionally illiterate" is a wildly irresponsible claim. Anyone familiar with education (clearly you are not) would know that children's reading skills naturally develop at different rates.

Suddenly you are trusting a test made by the dreaded federal government (the waste-of-money Dept. of Education no less!) and ignoring results from a test made at the state level?!? My, how you conservative school-haters twist yourselves around just to bolster your ideology!

Dave Trabert 3 years, 7 months ago

Excellent question. The answer is how KSDE dumbs down the Standard. For example, reading grade-appopriate material with full comprehension is called Exceeds Standard in Kansas. Only SOME comprehension is required to meet the Kansas standard. Which would you consider a solid 'standard' in Math - performs accurately some of the time and has some content knowledge or performs accurately most of the time and has effective content knowledge? KSDE sets the standard at the lower level.

The truth is that even on state-designed self-administered tests 40% of 4th grade students can't read grade-appropriate material with full comprehension. The truth is that 58% of 11th grade students can't perform accurately most of the time in Math.

I know you're only repeating what you've been told by KSDE and your local school district, but it is appalling that parents have not been told the truth about state assessment scores.

phsxtchr 3 years, 7 months ago

You mean the "truth" as the Koch Machine sees it. Don't you think that if so many Kansas children were "functionally illiterate" as you claim, parents would obviously notice that? If your claims were true, they wouldn't need to be told the "truth" about state assessment scores, the supposedly poor results would be clear in their children's poor reading ability. But, I certainly don't hear an uproar from parents about how their children are coming home from school "functionally illiterate".

It's strange that test results that don't back up your anti-school position are written off as poor tests. But what about the Kansas SAT reading scores? Is the SAT a poorly written test?

Also, please share with us your expertise in educational assessment. What education degree do you hold? How many years experience with educational assessment do you have? None, none, and none! Please don't pass ideology off as expertise.

phsxtchr 3 years, 7 months ago

You did not respond to the definitions of "proficient" and "basic" as defined by the NEAP test as described by Bert Stoneberg in the journal Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation (an actual peer-reviewed journal dealing with education assessment): http://pareonline.net/pdf/v12n5.pdf

The NEAP's "basic" level corresponds to grade-level skills. So, 71% of Kansas children are reading grade-level or above. This closely matches the supposedly "dumbed down" state assessment.

You also did not respond with any acknowledgement that children's reading skills naturally develop at different rates and to expect all children to be reading at grade level (especially in the elementary grades) is unrealistic.

Please don't try to belittle me by claiming that I am simply parroting talking points from KSDE and some school district. I have an advanced degree in education (do you?) and many years of classroom and assessment experience (do you?). I challenge you to come out of your ivory tower think-tank and spend a week in a public school. Talk to students, teachers, administrators, librarians and custodians. Come watch, and participate in the actual learning process. This experience will help you better understand and personalize the test scores and budget numbers you seem to love so much.

notanota 3 years, 7 months ago

The only opinions of teachers that count are the opinions that don't match those of professional organizations made up of teachers. Or something.

phsxtchr 3 years, 7 months ago

It certainly seems like the US Dept. of Education doesn't believe that the KS State Assessments are "dumbed down": http://www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=4160

This is based not just on DoE reviewers but also on external peer reviewers.

Where is your peer-reviewed evidence that the KS Assessments are "dumbed down"? What actual research do you have to back this claim up? Just because you want something to be true doesn't mean that it is true!

Is this the way you ran your business? Made unfounded claims against your employees and gave them less money to do their job but then expected better results? No wonder you got out of the business world and ran and hid in an ivory tower think-tank!

phsxtchr 3 years, 7 months ago

In addition, Kansas continues to score well above average on the SAT Reading test. The 2010 Kansas average on this test was 590; well above the national average of 501.

How can this be true if Kansas schools are failing our students as much as you and the Koch Machine claim?

notanota 3 years, 7 months ago

Part of the problem is that you're not viewing the problem where it really exists. In this country, white kids and rich kids get educated just fine in public schools. If you don't belong to one of those two groups, your chances of grabbing a decent education diminish. Of those two groups, wealth is the biggest predictor of success.

That isn't solvable by school funding alone (not that school funding doesn't matter, because it does.) Health and home environment play big parts, too. As does the education level of your parents (also predictors of wealth).

Now, if you want to talk about a different way to direct that money (and don't say vouchers, because I can show you the data that that's a non-starter) and become more effective, I'm all ears, but telling me that we're treading water at our current funding level and therefore should reduce it? Not an acceptable answer for our children.

Dave Trabert 3 years, 7 months ago

How is reporting facts missing from this article a distortion? The distortion is in this article.

Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 7 months ago

Because you apparently don't understand variables such as employee costs, facility costs, and inflation. That does, though, explain your past "success" in the private sector. You just don't understand what costs are and what cuts are, or you do and instead choose to willfully provide misleading information.

Regale us with "facts" about how "spending" has gone up for social services as well, then tell us how government should be spending the same in 2011 as it did in 2006. That makes a lot of sense, right? It isn't like costs for primary government functions, such as healthcare, have increased at all since 2006.

Dave Trabert 3 years, 7 months ago

Having run a number of private sector businesses and managed the entire budget process, I have a fair amount of experience with employee costs, facility costs, inflation and other pertinent variables. I may not see things the way you do but that's a matter of philosophy, not information or experience. I also know the differernce between someone claiming statements are 'willfully misleading' and actually provided evidence that a statement is incorrect.

The challenge is not to cut costs for the sake of cutting them but to find the most efficient and effective ways to provide essential services so the tax burden can be reduced. The either/or ultimatum - either pay higher taxes or surrender essential services - is a failed position that has led to economic stagnation for more than a decade. Instead of 'either/or' we need to find ways to 'eat our cake and have it, too' - have lower taxes and good quality services to promote job creation.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Obviously, your analogy works against you, as there is no way to eat one's cake and have it too - that's the whole point of that analogy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

"The challenge is not to cut costs for the sake of cutting them"

But cutting costs for the sake of cutting them is precisely what the libertarian right wants to do.

And why? Because they say they can't operate if they have to in any way contribute to the general welfare of greater society.

notanota 3 years, 7 months ago

I'll give you that, Dave. You're not trying to be willfully misleading. You're just bad at presenting unbiased research.

llama726 3 years, 7 months ago

"Having run a number of private sector businesses and managed the entire budget process, I have a fair amount of experience with employee costs, facility costs, inflation and other pertinent variables."

You may now leave this discussion, as private sector business is focused on achieving profit, and thus, it delivers only the cheapest acceptable product it can (with exceptions for luxury items, of course).

"I may not see things the way you do but that's a matter of philosophy, not information or experience."

What is your background in educating children? Why did you go into private sector business management, rather than taking your passions into your own private school? Your experience doesn't apply here. Thanks. Unless you think someone with a degree in English should teach Calculus. Do you? Different arenas. You can't apply business strategies to education, because you're assuming (incorrectly) that the business model works. No, the business model makes money on the kids that it can handle, and ignores the rest.

"The challenge is not to cut costs for the sake of cutting them but to find the most efficient and effective ways to provide essential services so the tax burden can be reduced."

Burden? Seriously, a burden? The wealthiest in our country, you'd describe them as overburdened? I wouldn't. They're getting richer - exponentially - every 10 years.

"The either/or ultimatum - either pay higher taxes or surrender essential services - is a failed position that has led to economic stagnation for more than a decade."

Which is why tax revenue hasn't increased at the same pace as the GDP in the past decade (nearly 20% less gain in revenue from taxes than in GDP). Taxes are going up too much, in eight years of Bush-era Congress tax cuts and two years of Obama-era Congress essentially not affecting taxes (actually cutting payroll tax).

"Instead of 'either/or' we need to find ways to 'eat our cake and have it, too' - have lower taxes and good quality services to promote job creation."

You're right in your arena, Dave. You need to produce the product at an acceptable level in the cheapest way possible so the people who profit from it can make their money. Money, not education, is the concern in your scenario.

Allow me to ask you a question, Dave. If your firm wanted to improve the quality of its services, would you try to spend less? In other words, if people were upset with your services and demanded a change, would you invest more, or less, in salaries for new educators? Because the "market" influences young people to stay the hell away from teaching, due to salaries. Especially in science and mathematics, which are critical for economic success.

Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 7 months ago

Yes, I noted that you ran private sector businesses. You just never ran one successfully.

notanota 3 years, 7 months ago

As I pointed out earlier, it was awfully convenient to leave out the fact that those "unacceptable" Kansas scores were above the national average.

tomatogrower 3 years, 7 months ago

And of course it has nothing to do with druggie parents from the inner city. Poor parents. Why can't those schools shut up and raise their children.

notanota 3 years, 7 months ago

Or, you know, DC has other factors at play. BTW - the US gives rich students an excellent education, no matter whether they go to public or private schools.

situveux1 3 years, 7 months ago

And Kansas City, MO would have a 100% graduation rate...

llama726 3 years, 7 months ago

Yep. You understand just enough about correlation to make this statement, but clearly not enough to understand additional variables.

Kontum1972 3 years, 7 months ago

i am still waiting for the Flint Hills project....to go into effect....

sciencegeek 3 years, 7 months ago

Since there are hardly any Kansas teachers who are part of that particular union, how can it possibly be the root of the problem in Kansas?

situveux1 3 years, 7 months ago

Are you for real? Nearly all public school teachers are members of the KNEA and NEA.

Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 7 months ago

Blatantly false. This is like saying nearly all state employees are members of the state employee union.

Kansas is a right to work state.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

It's an interesting logic that schools (and any government program other than the military) can never benefit from additional financing. But for some reason, the same logic doesn't apply to the private sector businesses. Their taxes must be eliminated to zero (essentially the libertarian/Koch brothers most cherished belief) because any level of taxation destroys their ability to operate effectively.

gkerr 3 years, 7 months ago

just another bozo,

It is ironic and indeed Bozoish to claim that business should not fight for lower taxes, as we have among the highest business taxes in the world, and public sector spending which has been relentlessly expanding for decades is entitled to keep expanding. No Way Jose. Not going to happen.

Who pays higher business taxes anyway? We all do.

The Keynesian model for an ever expanding public sector is not tenable in this era of global high debt. Gkerr

llama726 3 years, 7 months ago

Our actual corporate rate, yes, but you're not understanding that after subsidies, tax shelters, etc., corporations here barely pay taxes (see GE). And we all do? Ok, that's cute, but a little simple. We all pay for kids not having educational resources, too. Oh well. I'd rather not have to pay $2.90 for this package of socks when I could get it for $2.85 (alternatively, the corporate board could allow goods to be sold a little cheaper and reduce their individual profits by a few hundred thousand a year, but no, that's unpatriotic to suggest).

GardenMomma 3 years, 7 months ago

It really seems that the governor is doing his very best to gut public education so we will beg for the vouchers for private schools. So far he has:

  1. Cut per pupil funding to levels from nearly 20 years ago.
  2. Eliminated the Kansas Arts Commission which helps schools develop lessons for grades K-12, among the other grants given to Kansas artists. The KAC seems to especially help out those Western Kansas counties with arts funding.
  3. Eliminated funding for Kan-Ed which provides broadband Internet service to schools, hospitals, and libraries. Service which costs the taxpayer next to nothing but which helps students prepare for state assessments and other testing as well as a resource for teachers.
  4. Suggested eliminating the State Board of Education and the Board of Regents and replacing them with a Secretary of Education - to be appointed by the governor.

gkerr 3 years, 7 months ago

We simply cannot keep increasing spending for health care, education, State employee salaries, highways, law enforcement, medical care, retirement benefits, etc..

Everyone in these public sectors is looking for, arguing for, asking for, whining for, begging for tax payers money. More money from taxes in light of this prolonged economic downturn, this high debt from underwater mortgages, excess spending over income at every level of government, most households, and many businesses small and large, will not be forthcoming. This is not an issue isolated to Kansas alone, but every state in the Union is in the same boat, and the vast majority of nations in the world are in the same boat.

Simply put governments everywhere have overreached, overspent, overtaxed, and in the process have dried up the capital available to the small businesses that are the engines that create the capital for the public sector and the private sector both.

The love of money is the root of all evil, yet money is the necessary evil needed to fund government and sustain families livelihoods and businesses. Money for the forseeable future is in short supply and educators in the public sector will not get as much as they want or think they need. Period. Gkerr

llama726 3 years, 7 months ago

"We simply cannot keep increasing spending for health care, education, State employee salaries, highways, law enforcement, medical care, retirement benefits, etc.."

GDP increased by 50% from 2000-2010. Tax revenue only by 30%. We're not bringing in enough income. We "cannot," because why? Because the wealthiest don't want to pay their taxes, so they exploit the system - because, well, their friends WROTE the system - and the rest of us just have to deal with it.

"Everyone in these public sectors is looking for, arguing for, asking for, whining for, begging for tax payers money."

You don't seem concerned about the fact that "every" (which, I'm using as hyperbole) company in America is looking for, arguing for, asking for, whining for, and begging for government subsidies and tax breaks. Which costs just as much, most likely.

"More money from taxes in light of this prolonged economic downturn, this high debt from underwater mortgages, excess spending over income at every level of government, most households, and many businesses small and large, will not be forthcoming."

Increasing wealth disparity, poor financial regulation, poor income (because we don't tax appropriately)...

"Simply put governments everywhere have overreached, overspent, overtaxed, and in the process have dried up the capital available to the small businesses that are the engines that create the capital for the public sector and the private sector both."

Is it possible that the largest businesses have dried up the capital, because it is accruing pretty heavily at the top?

"The love of money is the root of all evil, yet money is the necessary evil needed to fund government and sustain families livelihoods and businesses. Money for the forseeable future is in short supply and educators in the public sector will not get as much as they want or think they need. Period. Gkerr"

Why? Because we're unwilling to fix our tax code so people can't dodge their responsibilities?

llama726 3 years, 7 months ago

They love to eat our freedom for lunch like terrible freedom eating robot terrorists... and they won't stop til they've gotten all our freedom. America, f*** yeah!!!!

countrygal07 3 years, 7 months ago

Cutting Education is a bunch of crap. The pasdt several years the schools have hade to make cuts after cuts in their budgets. Why are we able to help other countries but not able to help our own? Where is all the money from Lottery we was promised to help our school district?

George Lippencott 3 years, 7 months ago

Is there any rational person that believes that wholesale cuts to education are good?? This ranting sounds like demagoguery. The only other solution to our budget dilemma is to raise taxes. Where is the proposal to do that? Somebody wants it both ways. It seems they are saying that they abhor the cuts but will not take political risks by identifying who they would tax to avoid them??

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

To be fair, they're education officials discussing the impact of the cuts on education.

They're not legislators - those are the folks who have the job of making decisions about taxes, spending, etc.

Do you think that any proposal to raise taxes of any kind will persuade our current administration to do that? I don't.

George Lippencott 3 years, 7 months ago

Well the game is to introduce something and fortce it to a vote so you can claim at election time that "they" voted against it. If you do not make the link people may well continue to elect no taxers.

The prople of Kansas elected the current governor and legislature. They knew or should have know their stated poosition on taxes. They knew or should have known that schools would be cut if there were no tax increases. It can be reasonably assumed that the people of Kansas (not us) did not want their taxes increased further (we raised taxes last year) and accepted the consequences.

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