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Archive for Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Group of ex-GOP lawmakers: Schools need more funding

April 25, 2012

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TOPEKA — A group of nearly 50 former legislators — all Republicans — called for increased funding to public schools and spoke against proposals to eliminate the state income tax.

Rochelle Chronister, a former legislator and former chairwoman of the Kansas Republican Party, said the looming crisis for children’s education is a moral crisis.

“God and education have always been important to the people of our state and the Kansas Constitution reminds us that,” Chronister said during a news conference on the first day of the 2012 wrap-up session. “The first responsibility of Kansas Legislature is to ensure the education of our children.”

Legislators are currently fighting over school funding and tax cut proposals.

Tax distribution was also a topic of discussion for the former legislators, citing imbalances in property, sales and use, income and privilege, and miscellaneous taxes.

The group issued a report that said property taxes make up for 35 percent of all taxes, putting income and privilege taxes at roughly 24 percent.

Chronister said gradually reducing income taxes instead of increasing funding for education would further unbalance an already disproportionate taxing system, inevitably causing taxpayers to spend more on property and sales taxes.

Chronister did not say whether the group, called Traditional Republicans for Common Sense, would finance campaigns of other Republicans in the next election cycle.

Comments

Richard Heckler 2 years, 9 months ago

Brownback has been against public education for years because this man and his leaders want to fork over YOUR tax dollars to private industry. ALEC,Koch money and Wal-Mart money back this concept of for profit public education. Then again private industry is the most reliable source of fraud.

These 50 GOP thinkers remind me of the old school republican party. The type Sam Brownback,Koch and Wal- Mart have zero respect for to the point they would provide enough campaign money to move them out aka vote them out of office.

Look Brownback,ALEC,Koch and Wal-Mart people have no use for democrats or republicans. They want sheep who have zero brains and backbone.

pace 2 years, 9 months ago

You prefer to denigrate over argument. You seem so scared of him.

somebodynew 2 years, 9 months ago

Well, now - - guess we found a group that won't be signing any "loyalty oaths". It is really refreshing and hopeful to see that there are still people who identify as Republicans that still have values and sense. thank you.

Joe Hyde 2 years, 9 months ago

Wish all fifty of these former Kansas Republican legislators would come out of retirement.

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

I say leave them in their dotage. The group's claim that "The Kansas Constitution says that every child has the right to a fair and equal education" (from a source) makes me wonder if any of them have read the Kansas Constitution at all.

chootspa 2 years, 9 months ago

They've read the state supreme court findings on what it means, so while it may not literally say precisely those words, the courts have found that to be the intent.

“[t]he ultimate State purpose in offering a system of public schools is to provide an environment where quality education can be afforded to all.” Provance v. Shawnee Mission U.S.D. No. 512, 231 Kan. 636, 643 (1982).

“[t]he general theory of our educational system is that every child in the state, without regard to race, creed, or wealth, shall have the facilities for a free education.” (Emphasis added). State v. Smith, 155 Kan. 588, 595 (1942).

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

Chootspa: "so while it may not literally say precisely those words..."

In other words, the statement "The Kansas Constitution says that every child has the right to a fair and equal education" is false. The state Constitution - and even your quotes - says nothing about a "fair education"* nor an "equal education." They are making it up.

Like many vague modern people, they are saying words that sound good, they are spouting wishes upon stars as if they are settled fact, but they are not telling the truth.

  • One cannot even define such a thing. It's just an emotion-word.

chootspa 2 years, 9 months ago

Like many vague modern people, I have a dictionary.

Fair Adjective: In accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.

Yup, I'd say that any constitution that mentions education meets that particular standard. I could go on with "equal," but there's no point since the article has been edited. Perhaps the first statement was a misquote.

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

"I'd say that any constitution that mentions education meets that particular standard."

Beautiful. So any Constitution that mentions education demands a "fair" education based on undefined standards. May I suggest that a word that means anything at all means nothing at all? Vague modern people are rhetoric's Mr. Taggart to reality's Headley Llamar: pretty tongue, but still a 20-dollar whore. The Kansas Constitution defines who determines "finance of the educational interests of the state" (from a source). It does not play emo games with emo words.

That said, while the LJ World article has edited the original press release, the original is available at the link below. "Perhaps the first statement was a misquote" is either intellectual dishonesty of laziness on your part, for it's easily determined it I quoted the press release accurately. Here's a hint: I did. These dotards' words have no relation to reality.

chootspa 2 years, 9 months ago

Defensive much? "perhaps the first statement was a misquote" was directed towards the LJ article, and somewhat sarcastic. No need for the rather ironic accusations of intellectual dishonesty, pot. Although, now that you bring it up...

The original press release does not use quotes around the words fair or equal - indicating that they are in fact interpreting the intent of the Constitution and not directly quoting from it, as I pointed out earlier.

In other words, the statement is not false. It's just not the literal language you would have used.

Bob_Keeshan 2 years, 9 months ago

I realize this is precisely what the Il Marrone partisans on the right wing want, but someday soon these "traditional" Republicans are going to realize that in Kansas they are Democrats.

They aren't Democrats in terms of national politics, but they certainly are in terms of Kansas politics. The Kansas GOP and their leader Il Marrone have no room for independent opinions or thoughtful dissent.

The old myth about Kansas being a "three party state" is no longer true.

tomatogrower 2 years, 9 months ago

Umbridge resides in the governor's mansion.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Knapp,
Could you please give us access to the report that you mentioned they issued? Also... Unless you can provide us with the names of the so called "50"....this story is nothing but B.S. I don't believe you Mr. Knapp. I don't believe Ms. Chronister has the 50. Proove it!!!

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

Thank you! 46...50...who's counting. Sad that I had to ask for this. Guess I thought that was part of responsible journalism.

jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

46 is "nearly 50" as reported in the article.

tomatogrower 2 years, 9 months ago

I'll donate money to their group. And I know a lot of others who will too.

tomatogrower 2 years, 9 months ago

Don't use WalMart. Like WalMart would ever try and educate someone's children. I mean their granddaughter paid someone to do her college work, so she could party. Thankfully the university took her degree away from her.

kugrad 2 years, 9 months ago

Only in a delusion does the government run the media. The government is not an entity that exists separately from the people. It is the actions and efforts of many people. To characterize it is a separate entity that acts upon us is a useful straw man argument, but don't mistake it for reality.

The statement that children need to be far away from "government run schools" is patently ridiculous, has no place in reasonable discourse, and does not reflect reality.

Liberty's post and argument serves as an example of zealotry.

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

"The government is not an entity that exists separately from the people."

One could surely test that theory by, using his authority as one of the people, passing a law. And then one could arrest, try, incarcerate, and even execute his neighbor for transgressing that law.

If the government can do that and you, as one of the people cannot, then the government is an entity that exists separately from the people.

jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

It's not equivalent to one person, it's the collective expression of millions of people, as expressed through our political process.

Actually, more like hundreds of millions.

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

Let's say I got all 300 million Americans together on Massachusetts St. and we tried and convicted and hanged someone. Is that "the government" or just a really big mob?

If it's a really big mob, then government is an entity that exists separately from the people.

jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

It's not a mob.

It's the collective expression of the population, with some checks and balances, like constitutional principles, organizational guidelines, etc.

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

I think you misunderstand the "It's." I'm referring to the group of people. So to clarify, let me axe it this way:

Is 300 million Americans on Mass St. hanging a malefactor: a) a mob b) the American government c) both a and b d) neither a nor b

KUGrad votes for (c), because to him there is no difference between the people and their government ("The government is not an entity that exists separately from the people"). I vote for (a), because I assert the government is not the people gathered but a separate entity. If you choose (a) as well, then we really have nothing left to argue over.

So can you give us a 1-letter answer?

jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

I vote a.

But, I don't agree that the government is a "separate entity" from the people in the way that you (and other libertarians) seem to believe.

It is an expression of the people through our political process, guided by the constitution, etc. (and, of course, politicians are people too).

jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

To be even more precise, the government is a smaller group of "the people", in the same way that the NRA, the Lawrence bridge club, the people in my neighborhood (or neighborhood association), etc. are.

All groups like that are subsets of 'the people", not distinct and separate "entities", in my view.

dsplawrence 2 years, 9 months ago

I seriously doubt that Liberty_One attended private schools. (based on his writing abilities)

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

What an awesome admission. Though it seems to me that your criticism of Liberty_One proves that he is correct.

napoleon969 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm a big fan of Lewis Black. It seems that the current crop of conservative Republican knuckelheads evidently took Econ101 at 8:00 in the morning. To think that you can cut income taxes without a corresponding increase in local property taxes and sales tax is insane. Does everyone know that the proposal to eliminate income taxes on small businesses would include attorneys, real estate agents, insurance agents, farmers, etc. etc. etc.?

Oh yeah, I'd like to be paying the freight for those kuckelheads too!!!! NOT.

"You can't learn economics out of one bloodshot eye at 8 in the morning." (roughly paraphrased (and cleaned up) from Lewis Black

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

"To think that you can cut income taxes without a corresponding increase in local property taxes and sales tax is insane."

To think that you can eat fewer cookies without a corresponding increase in ham sandwiches in insane.

Unless you're actually trying to lose weight.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

Typical. When you don't have the intellectual capacity to understand the argument...attack the messenger. Bottom line: Everything our Government touches runs in the Red. No matter how much money we throw down the rat hole....it's still a hole. In this case, with no bottom. You can have your nice house, nice cars, and all the bells and whistles inside it. If you send your kids to overcrowded, underfunded, public schools...you get what you get. As proven by National and World Statistics...you get dumb, under prepared, liberally indoctrinated, self centered, fools.

heygary 2 years, 9 months ago

See today's George Will editorial ... Illinois is excellent example of what happens when liberals get their way ... and a template for what we can expect if Obama gets a 2nd term!

chootspa 2 years, 9 months ago

Better job growth than Wisconsin with all their union busting and austerity? Since January of 2011 Illinois has created 47,400 jobs, an increase in employment of more than 0.8 percent. Wisconsin lost 14,200 jobs over the same period, or nearly 0.5 percent of total employment.

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

Seems they've got some catching up to do still: Unemployment Rate: Wisconsin: 6.8% Illinois: 8.8% http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm

chootspa 2 years, 9 months ago

Indeed they do. Illinois started out with higher unemployment. Not surprising that they're still higher, but at least they're creating new jobs to help fill that need. Meanwhile, Walker's a little off in his estimate of how many jobs he'd create with his new policies. 250,000? Nah, try a negative number. They may even still lead the nation in job losses.

jayhawklawrence 2 years, 9 months ago

I attended a private religious school and later a public school. With much careful deliberation, I then decided to send my children to public schools as the better choice for them to achieve excellence and success in their life.

It was the right choice for my kids.

It is not necessarily a good choice for every situation which is why I find it disturbing when theo-political ideologues try to force fit their world view on everyone else.

Sometimes a private religious school or a home school is a better choice.

Parents have to study the options and that includes finding a good school system and possibly having to move to a new community and make the best choice possible. I know a man who moved from California to the Blue Valley School district solely to find the best schools for his kids. It was a good choice for him.

The Brownback view is going to force us toward mediocrity and in a increasingly competitive world, only the very rich who can afford elite schools will be able to compete. Lawrence schools don't need privatization, they need better tools, teachers and less government mandated paperwork.

The way that Brownback is squeezing public schools out of much needed funding does not appear to be motivated by common sense but rather by political ideology and a desire to cut taxes for his benefactors.

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

"Romney = more school funding"

Romney = more funding of a lot of things that Republicans don't want to fund now. In fact, I suspect many, many, many Republican voters will be crying in their beer over how much Romney spends and how quickly the Republicans line up behind him to make it happen.

The worst thing that could happen to the GOP would be for Romney to get elected.

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

Well, can't say you weren't warned. Just don't expect it to take 5 years before mild-mannered Republican columnists start writing columns like this: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122512310347772325.html

Or 6 years before the voters replay 2006 on their heads.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

Hummm....can you say mincing words? The data doesn't lie. Obviously you haven't spoken to many public school students. As you have just proven...when you don't have the intellectual capacity to understand the argument...attack the messenger. Your only post doesn't address the issue at all. It only attacks. That's called Trolling.
Do you actually have an opinion on the matter?

JayhawksandHerd 2 years, 9 months ago

What's stopping anyone who wants to get a private education from doing so?

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

Surely there must be something, or there would be no need for public education in the first place. So what is it?

JayhawksandHerd 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm curious because 1) I see occasional support for vouchers on this forum, and 2) those who espouse the virtues of the "free market" seem to be particularly adamant in their beliefs. Don't vouchers constitute "government interference?" Private options are readily available, so why not send your kid to one on your own dime? If you can't afford it, why is it my problem? If you don't want to pay taxes toward a system you deem a failure, I support your right to your own opinion. At the same time, why should I be forced to pay taxes towards vouchers to send your child, for example, to a private institution grounded in religious principles that contradict my beliefs?

I'm not arguing one way or the other here (and I certainly don't have all the answers), I just can't figure some people out.

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

Yes, vouchers constitute government interference. Those who think they can keep their schools 'private' while letting the nose of the government money camel into their tent ought to take a look at the rules that 'private' colleges accept today. And you are correct - if it's government money paying for the education via vouchers, those taxpayers have every right to have the last say on the education it's buying.

IMO, there's nothing keeping people from getting any education they want. All it takes is time and work. But call me a cynic, for I don't think most people want an education as much as they want a diploma anyway.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

I think what people are sick of is the idea that if you throw more money at it...it will succeed. This has been proven false in our public schools. If we keep doing what we're doing we'll keep getting what we're getting. Failure. Disband the teachers union and listen to other theories on how to make it work. The Unions and their leaders have openly admitted that their goal is the welfare of teachers, not the students. More and more money is not the answer. Proper management of funds is.

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

Ok Mr. Pork,

You are the superintendent of a school district. You get an allocation of funds from the state, and from looking at your books, it's clear you're going to run over budget unless you cut some costs.

You start by looking at positions to eliminate. Which ones?

How about cutting the coaching staffs of all sports programs down to a max of three? Does the football team really need a different coach for backs and linemen? They argue yes, of course. But these are tough times. Tell them to make do. Ok, that's done, but you're still over budget. What next?

Well, we have 6 music programs, marching band, pep band, orchestra, jazz ensemble, choir, and the "elite" choir, "The Melodians". Say goodbye to The Melodians, and the jazz ensemble. Just saved $3,000/year. Not much, but it's belt tightening time.

What else now? Let's look as special education. Right now, we have 1 qualified professional for every 60 special needs students, and 1 FTE paraprofessional for every 4. How many paras can we get rid of while allowing the remainder to effectively do their jobs? Hmm... that's a hard one. We'll come back to that.

Next, lets look at the fleet. Eliminating transportation vehicles saves on fuel, maintenence, and drivers' wages, but adds logistical complications and transportation time to all bus routes.

and so on... and so on... and so on....

After crunching numbers, consulting experts and stakeholders, and deliberating on about 100 more situations, where each budget cut results in reduced services and/or opportunities for students, increased workload for teachers, staff, and administrators, while simultaneously, and unfailingly, angers a group of parents (who in turn elect your bosses to the school board), you realize that after all that.... you are still over budget... and more cuts in funding are on the way.

Now, judging from your post, you are not a superintendent. You are just some yahoo off the street who is waving his hands about teachers unions, claiming that they are the root of all the problems with public education in this state. But there's a lot more to it than that.

I think what people are sick of, is the handwaving by blabbermouth know-nothings who can't see beyond their own 1040, and who currently comprise enough of the constituency to have elected a bunch of blabbermouth know-nothing legislators who's primary goal is to satisfy the myopic voters who put them in office.

Just curious... what is it that you do for a living? I'd love to opine about how you are doing it backward and incorrectly, seeing as how I likely have no experience in it whatsoever.

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm not assuming that brick and mortar schools are the only option. Indeed, they are not the only option. I'm just trying to enlighten some people on some of the real world decisions being made by real world school districts... you know.. here in the real world.

I recognize that gov't run institutions tend to lag behind the private sector in adopting new innovations and technology (with the exception of national security of course :-), however that doesn't diminish the importance of a public option when it comes to education.

Aside from inherited wealth, education is the single most enabling resource for an individual's success. It even trumps hard work, when you think about it. (Between an uneducated hard worker, and an educated lazy worker, the former is more likely to end up working for the latter. In many cases. Not all).

So the best possible "hand up" (not a "hand out") that could be given to anyone with limited financial means, is an education. An education is a map to one's bootstraps, complete with pulling instructions.

In a transaction between a consumer and a private organization, the adage "you get what you pay for" hold pretty true, more often than not.

Not so in a transaction between a consumer and a gov't service such as public education. The consumer gets more than they pay for. Sometimes they don't pay at all. That's the whole point -- to reduce direct costs to the consumer by using the gov't as a buffer. The gov't further ensures a baseline of quality (which many argue could be much higher) through mandated curriculum requirements.

If you take the gov't out of the equation and consumers buy their education direct from the supplier, you lose both the benefit of the cost reducing buffer, and the benefit of the of the quality baseline.

And suddenly, "you get what you pay for" becomes true for everybody, including those with the most limited financial means.

If you think education inequities have a strong correlation with wealth disparity now, just wait until "you get what you pay for" is the de facto rule for acquiring education. With our current mixture of public and private education options, wealth is only partly a causal factor in one's level and quality of education. Eliminating the public option in favor of privatization only works to stiffen that causal relationship.

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

"Tell that to the one million+ college graduates that work as waiters, baristas, cooks etc."

Are you saying the underemployed would be better off with less education? Unemployment and underemployment are products of a down economy. Education allows one to better respond to opportunity when it arrives. Given a barista with a college degree and the one without, which has a better chance at moving on up? Or for that matter, when applying for a barista position in the first place, all other things being equal, the one with education is more likely to get the job.

Examples of underemployment do not invalidate the value of education in the slightest.

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

Also, you seem to be missing the point about the state acting as a buffer between the taxpayer and the consumer of public education. By spreading the cost to taxpayers, the cost per consumer is reduced drastically. What percentage of private school attendees pay little to no tuition, as is the case with public school?

Your cell phone analogy is broken because you're ignoring the passage of time. You're comparing today's iPhone with the same iPhone of 5 years ago. Yes, the cost has gone down, but those same people who were the first to purchase the iPhone are now purchasing other consumer goods for which their lower income counterparts are going to have to wait another 5 years. In the free market, only those with ample buying power can afford the latest and greatest. Those without buying power have to wait until those products are no longer the latest and greatest before they can afford them. Those without the buying power are always behind the curve.

Applying that principle to a free market education system... let's say we have two students of the same age and academic potential, Richie and Frida, who both want to be video game programmers. Richie's folks enroll him in a school where the tuition covers extensive access to the latest technology, while Frida's parent's enroll her in a school with a much more affordable tuition, that can only offer modest access to technology.

Flash forward five years, and Richie is better suited to out compete Frida for jobs, given his greater access to the tools necessary for his chosen field. At this point, Frida's school can now afford to offer the same tools that Richie had five years ago, while Richie's school has moved on to the next generation of technologies that Frida's school will yet again have to wait for.

You can't simply ignore time. In the free market, at any given point in time, there is always (necessarily) a disparity in the availability of consumer goods based on consumer buying power. Which is perfectly fine for most things.

The whole idea behind the public sector as a provider, is to try lessen the role that an individual's buying power plays in his or her ability to receive certain goods and services deemed sufficiently important to the health of society. Safety, basic education, and health care (to some degree), are a few things that, over time, have come to be viewed as such by our society and culture, which is then expressed through public services.

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

"The point was that over time the disparity in the quality of goods and services shrinks."

No it doesn't. Not at relative price points. Say the first iPhone cost $500 in 2007. It was the latest and greatest. Now, 5 years later, you can get a 1st gen iPhone for $100. Yes, the cost came down, but the iPhone 1 is no longer the latest and greatest. Now it's the iPhone 4s, and guess how much is costs? Yep, $500. The disparity is still there, and you still have to pay 5x as much for the best thing on the market -- i.e. buying power is the primary causal factor in the quality of the product. You get what you pay for. Which is perfectly fine in the world iPhones.

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

"The cost per consumer is increased dramatically since the total cost is increased."

First of all, I'm not entirely convinced the total cost is increased. If you can show me the operating budgets for two similarly sized districts, with similar course offerings, amenities, facilities, etc, where one is public and the other private, and point out how the private one is significantly lower than the public one, then I'd be interested to see that. The difference would be the overhead of public bureaucracy.

Secondly, the cost per consumer is not dramatically increased. Rather the cost to all taxpayers is increased (and not that dramatically due to the wide distribution). The taxpayers funding education may or may not be direct consumers. If they are not, then they are paying for something they are not directly using (which gets many a goat). If they are, then take their state taxes, multiply by the percentage that is spent on education funding, divide by the number of kids they have in public school, and there's your education cost per child. In these cases, more often than not, the family is paying far less to educate their children than they would if they didn't pay any state taxes at all and sent their kids to private schools. And then there are the direct consumers who pay no state taxes. To them, the cost is practically nothing (save for state sales tax), are so they seeing the most direct benefit.

And the last group two groups, particularly the last, are the ones we are trying to help the most. That's the whole point. Taxation, even on those who do not directly consume public education, is a small price to pay to provide state-wide access to those who can't afford it at all.

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

"If it was a direct fee, the consumers would be highly cost-conscious..."

Sure they would. They would settle for whatever provider they could afford. The thing is, if you remove public education, you remove the baseline. Everybody settles into their market.

"... and thus producers would constantly be trying to innovate to find ways to reduce costs."

Not necessarily. Cost reduction is used as a competitive strategy, but only to a point. Harvard isn't trying to compete with Bethel College in Newton, KS (both private schools). Harvard is elite, they know it, and they know there are still plenty of rich folks out there willing to pay the high tuition.

But if you take away the baseline that public education provides, you'll get discount educators coming in to fill the demand of lower income households. The discrepancy in quality widens as new companies come in to fill demand for all income levels.

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

No! You have it backwards. Think about it.

Can you find a private K-12 school out there that offers a lower quality of education than that offered in public education? If you can, then chances are they are few, and they will likely go out of business soon, because why would families pay anything at all for lesser quality, when they have public education with practically no tuition?

Go in the opposite direction, and you have countless private schools that purport to offer better quality for a premium. The range goes from those that cater to middle income families all the way up to the very exclusive. Public education is in no way preventing private schools from offering as much as they possibly can, and raising their tuition as much as is required to do so. No ceiling on quality or price whatsoever.

On the contrary, public education plays a role of preventing "race to the bottom" style competition, where reduction of price is the primary strategy. We don't have "Always Save" eduction competing with "Best Choice" education to see who can offer the cheapest math classes, because public education offers them for practically no direct cost to the consumer.

And of course, public K-12 education has an unfair advantage over any potential discount provider, because they do not rely on tuition from the consumer, they use taxes instead. That's the whole point. We don't want a bunch of discount education out there. We want an acceptable, if not exceptional, baseline, that everybody has access to, regardless of income level -- because, of course, education is so emphatically crucial.

Just take a look at higher education. State universities receive state funding, but they still charge a non-trivial, direct cost to the consumer. As a result, there are many private colleges, DeVry, ITT Tech, Univ Phoenix, et. al., that undercut the cost of public universities. And what is their focus? Job training. They appeal to those with tighter budgets, who are more interested in focused, job skills training, and don't want to pay for all the extra stuff included in a more traditional 4-year degree program.

At DeVry, you can receive instruction in computer programming for a specific set of languages.

At KU, you can receive instruction in computer programming for specific languages, but you also get in-depth instruction into the underlying theory of computing, you learn about why the programming language works the way it does, sophisticated techniques at algorithm optimization, etc. Not to mention, advanced Math, Chemistry, Physics, and all kinds of humanities courses like Literature, Philosophy, foreign languages, etc.

Believe it or not, some people think the 4-year degree program is worth it, even if a lot of what you learn doesn't seem to correlate to immediate job skills. You might be surprised at how much of the non-technical stuff is applicable in a technical job.

jayhawklawrence 2 years, 9 months ago

I think it is a given that the politicians cannot manage anything but they are very very good at criticizing everything.

We need to elect leaders who understand how to find the right balance and who do not need to rely on ideology or political cults to make decisions that more qualified people can do on their own.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

Gudpoynt/Kill'emLibera, Bottom line. Public Schools are failing. Throwing money at them obviously does not work. Tax increases do not work because you, Gudpoynt, continue to want more and more and cannot live within the budget you have set. When it comes to education...we don't need sports, we don't need band, we don't need to fund ALL of the extra stuff until we can afford it. How hard is that to understand? How many teachers could have been properly paid with what FSH and LHS spent on their football fields and all of the equipment that comes with it? Sickening.
Pretty simple. Create a budget that prepares students for the next level and stick to it. The real problem is that we have academics running a business. Right into the ground. Allowing all of the extra curricular activities to stand while students fail is criminal. You don't NEED sports. You don't NEED band. You don't need art or any of the other crap that get's funded. Pottery, photography, weight lifting, and on and on and on. I'd love to see the salaries of all the "teachers" that run these meaningless classes. Bring all of it back when we can actually afford it. Pretty simple. I'll take that knife and actually use it to prepare kids for College. There is plenty of money there. You just have to spend it on things that actually matter.

JayhawksandHerd 2 years, 9 months ago

"You don't NEED band."

You're entitled to your opinion, but some of us beg to differ. Here's a good starting point:

http://mary-desaulniers.suite101.com/effects-of-music-on-the-brain-a101991

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

Looks like it's really helping them academically. Their failing. See, you aren't able to look at the big picture. It's all about what you want. And everyone is getting what they want at the expense of teachers salaries. Core curriculum is suffering for the sake of electives. Just bring 'em back when we can afford them.

JayhawksandHerd 2 years, 9 months ago

Sure, it's what I want, "big picture" or otherwise. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I've been interested in research involving music and the brain for several years. Again, you're entitled to your opinion, but so am I, and we both have the same voting power. All I've done is provided one example of evidence supporting my opinion that music study enhances cognitive development, particularly since both verbal and musical literacy involve similar neural networks.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

I get it. And respect the fact that your research is probably very valid. You know that is not my point though. It's not just about band or music. It's about all of the classes that cost cash. All should be evaluated. Sports programs especially.

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

"I'll take that knife and actually use it to prepare kids for College."

yes.. because colleges are falling over themselves to take the kids who never participated in art, music, sports, etc. Colleges don't look at that stuff at all.

Then again, you just might have no idea what you are talking about.

"How many teachers could have been properly paid with what FSH and LHS spent on their football fields and all of the equipment that comes with it?"

Answer: zero. There is a law that separates funds for teachers salaries from facility construction and maintenance. Thus, a district might have the budget for a new football stadium, but it cannot use that money to pay teachers. Did you know that? Of course you didn't, because you have no idea what you are talking about.

"Throwing money at them obviously does not work."

Simply throwing money at education does not necessarily increase the quality of education. If you think that is what is (or has been) going on, then clearly, you have... wait for it... no idea what you are talking about.

My previous post was to try to lodge a morsel of understanding into your squishy brain in the hopes that you might understand that districts are making difficult decisions. They are cutting positions. They are cutting programs. They are looking to stretch their dollars anywhere they can. And they are not expecting any help from the legislature, or the governor's office, in the forseeable future.

Of course, it's much easier for you to glom onto to the shallow notion that the entire problem is caused by teachers unions. Whichever carnival barking "news" pundit spoonfed you that simpleton's idea sure had their way with you. How does that feel?

"[I] continue to want more and more..."

When it comes to education, you bet your gluteals. I tend to share the opinion of countless scholars, historians, economists, inventors, entrepreneurs, parents, grandparents, etc., that education is invaluable to an individual's quality of life, and education of a society is invaluable to it's success. It's more valuable than all economic stimuluses, tax incentives, and quantitative easings combined.

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

"Public Schools are failing."

How about, "you are failing public schools"?

Public schools aren't failing, they're suffering. They're suffering fools like you who... you guessed it... have no idea what you are talking about. They are suffering from a critical mass of unprecedented selfishness, triggered by the spanking Obama and the Dems handed to McCain and the GOP in 2008, manifested by the reactionary Tea Party, and perpetuated by the GOP and their droning army of "news" pundits, who all too often, like you, have no idea what they are talking about.

This unprecedented selfishness has spawned a new and ugly belief: that an individual's income is the single most sacred thing to an American, that protection thereof is the primary goal of the U.S. Constitution, that it's currently under attack by socialist liberals, and that it must be protected by all means necessary.

Of course, where the rubber hits the road, "all means necessary" shows up to the party dressed as a shifting of the tax burden away from those with wealth, weilding a knife to cut social programs in order to do so. Yippie-kie-ay!

You seem to have fallen for it. You prefer lower taxes over band class. Dispicable. What would your grandmother say? Was she in band class?

Teachers Unions? Are you kidding me? Try opening up that little mind of yours, m'kay bub? Go talk to someone who is actually in charge of running a school district, and tell them what they are doing wrong. Go talk to a teacher and explain to them the union makes them lazy, how they don't deserve their 40K or their benefits package, and how they are in no danger of losing their jobs. It would probably be news to them.

If you do not get slapped, consider them polite. At the very least, they will assure you that you have no idea what you are talking about.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

and on and on and on.... You can cry all you want and blame everyone but the people who run and control the budgets. Good luck with that in the private sector. Call me all the names you wish if it makes you feel better. Bottom line...schools are failing...not I as you tried to spin it. They are failing because academics are strong on knowledge and weak on common sense. Like yourself. Just tax everyone equally for your charade and not just those whom you 'think' can afford it.

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm not removing blame from the people who run and control the budgets. That would be the state you see, particularly the state legislature, which is currently full of officials who feel they are following the wishes of people like you, who voted them into office. Those wishes, of course, being to cut funding for public education because you need more tax relief. Those wishes, of course, being expressed largely by people who have no idea what they are talking about.

School administrators, you see, do not set the budget. Nor do they allocate funds. They only "control" budgets in the sense that they manage them, and make the tough decisions about what to cut when there's not enough money to do everything they did last year.

All I'm trying to get you to understand is that your level of understanding about some of these tough decisions is simplistic and vapid to the point of being irritating (e.g. "it's all the unions fault!!! Bust the teachers union!!!")

Btw... I work happily in the private sector. With my public education. I have even created a job for somebody. Another one on the way soon I hope. I "think" I can continue to support public education. I "think" you can too.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

The issue here is that you don't read very well. You put quotes around things that I didn't say and blow on for a mile? Do you really think someone will respond to that novel? That type of post is called 'bullying'. You overwhelm with volume...not common sense. Good example: You babble on about budgets rules, and details. I don't care. I know the law on Athletic fields vs general fund. My point was that it was a $&*@ load of money. If you can put it toward a field...you can find a way to pay teachers. You don't get even that simple concept...that is the reason why the schools are failing and in the red...they don't either. If you want to continue, start a new thread at the bottom. I'll go. You have knowledge...but are very shy on wisdom.

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

"it was a $&*@ load of money. If you can put it toward a field...you can find a way to pay teachers."

I get that simple concept, and I totally agree. But who chooses what money goes where? I don't think the teacher's union has much to do with that particular issue.

Perhaps you should try directing your outrage at the skyrocketing cost of health insurance which is bleeding the general funds of districts all over the state.

"Do you really think someone will respond to that novel?"

What should I make of the fact that you said this in a response to my novel? Don't hate me because I am verbose.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

I hate no one. You're right. Let's start by limiting health care for illegals. That would fund our schools. What's your opinion on that. The Cliffs version please :)

gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

To what degree is the state paying for the health care of undocumented workers currently? They are not being employed by the state. They are being employed privately, which is itself an illegal act, so when you disrespectfully refer to a complete class of living breathing humans as "illegals", I will assume that you are including the white suburban family who employes the illegal house cleaner, the local roofing business owner who hires illegals to lay shingles, the farmer who hires illegals to drive the grain truck during harvest, etc. etc.

Still, neither these illegal employers, nor their legal employees, are getting their health coverage paid for by the state.

If undocumented workers are contributing to rising health care costs, they are doing it the good old fashioned way, by simply not having insurance at all, and getting all their care from the emergency room.

So, one way to bring health care costs down is to get the uninsured on a plan, other than the super expensive Emergency Room. Of course thats what the PPACA seeks to do.

Interestingly enough, between an uninsured, illegal immigrant, and an uninsured U.S. citizen, the immigrant is less likely to go to the ER because of they are constantly living under the looming fear of deportation.

In any event, whatever the state provides in the way of health care for undocumented workers, I don't think eliminating it completely would even begin to move the needle of the cost health insurance for teachers.

Perhaps you should look more into what teachers are getting for health benefits. Maybe the unions are demanding too much in that area. I don't know what teachers get. But I know a lot of teachers, maybe I'll ask one.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

Please visit these sites to see all of the worthless crap courses that we pay teachers to 'teach'. http://fshs.usd497.org/ http://lhs.usd497.org/ There are some great options that will definitely prepare students for the next level. But all the other stuff...oh my goodness the money we could save for our elementary schools and teachers. Oh...that's right...we can't get rid of any of these courses because that means getting rid of their teachers. And they are, for the most part, protected by a union. You'll keep allowing them to waste and waste...But yet you'll scream till your blue because your elementary student's class has 27 kids and one underpaid teacher.

JayhawksandHerd 2 years, 9 months ago

Kansas is a right-to-work state. Administrators can "get rid" of individual teachers any time they see fit.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

That is only true to a point and mass terminations based on budget cuts would be met with massive law suits from the Union. So you agree that we should cut the crap and get down to education until we can actually afford the other stuff?

JayhawksandHerd 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm all for spending as efficiently as possible, but you and I have a much different opinion regarding "crap courses." Even though I don't have children, I have no problem paying taxes to help support the arts, physical education, etc., as I believe a well-rounded education involves more than "readin', writin', and 'rithmetic."

jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

I generally agree, but if we have to make a choice, I think we should concentrate on the basics.

chootspa 2 years, 9 months ago

"Until we can actually afford it" is a misleading statement. We can afford it. We choose not to prioritize it.

Paul Wilson 2 years, 9 months ago

That is actually the problem. Schools are prioritizing crap classes and going broke in the process.

Kathy Getto 2 years, 9 months ago

That would be called RIF, pork_ribs and there would be no law suits.
Crap classes? Really? We shouldn't have to make a choice if the legislature would follow the law they created and fund the schools. If this continues, public schools will be hollow shells in three or four years - just what ALEC and Brownback want. All your whining about a weak union (KNEA) is a weak argument.

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

"America is flawed, but at least we try to educate all our citizens."

That's an excellent point and one that I think gets lost in the differing arguments about how we do it, who is primarily responsible for doing it, and how we are going to pay for it. Some honestly believe that the best way to do it is to racially-balance kids in shiny classrooms filled with computers and have a well-paid, highly specialized teacher speak to them. Others think that the best way is for the kid to sit at a table at home with a book and a box of pencils, with limited guidance, and work it through herself. Parents differ, but I have never met a parent who hopes their kid will be stupid.

Claiming that one's political opponents have a secret plan to keep everyone ignorant (as some on both sides assert) merely poisons the well. It is not at all helpful in answering the issue, merely in inciting people to vote a certain way, hands held over their ears to keep out the screaming.

tbaker 2 years, 9 months ago

So did this group come to the meeting with research and analysis and present a briefing illustrating what a great job additional funding would do raising test scores? Lowering the appalling drop-out rate? Increasing the number of 9th graders that actually graduate on time? Did they illustrate how current per-student costs are producing equal to or greater than academic performance found in similar measures of private school performance? Did they provide a single performance metric to justify additional funding?

Of course not.

They showed up whining platitudes and dogma about "God and education" as a basis to fleece more money from the tax payers. They wouldn’t dream of actually putting forth an objective analysis of the actual performance of our public schools as the foundation of their argument. (like everyone else in the real world has to do to justify a funding increase)

All anyone has to do is a brief examination of per-student funding over the last 40 years and compare that to graduation rates and academic performance. You'll quickly see that on a per-student basis, funding for public schools has steadily increased, while acedemic performance has steadily decreased. Public schools should stand or fall on performance, or the tax payers should be given the option to take their tax money and spend it on sending their children to a private school that out-performs the public school they are currently forced to use. After all it is about the children, not the politicians or the teachers union.

tbaker 2 years, 9 months ago

I have sat through a day in school recently Mr. Getto, hence my concern. Competition works every single time it is tried. If a public school knows it's funding is tied directly to independant, objective measurement of academic performance, said performance will improve.

I think the decline of the US Public Education system is the simgle worst problem facing our country. The US will not be able to compete on the world stage and will be replaced as a world power by China.

The most recent NAEP assessments indicate that less than one third of U.S. fourth graders are proficient in reading, mathematics, science, and American History.

•More than half of low income students cannot even demonstrate basic knowledge of science, reading, and history. •U.S. eighth graders ranked 19th out of 38 countries on mathematic assessments and 18th in science. •U.S. twelfth graders ranked 18th out of 21 countries in combined mathematics and science assessments.

(Source: The Heritage Foundation)

dwendel 2 years, 9 months ago

Poor editing. The article clearly indicates they are all still Republicans. The headline should read, "Group of GOP ex-lawmakers" not "Group of ex-GOP lawmakers."

jayhawklawrence 2 years, 9 months ago

It is amazing to me that such a group exists and very hopeful.

Knock on wood...

Mike Ford 2 years, 9 months ago

realistic gop members take on tea party and alec clowns.......that's what the article should be called.

usnsnp 2 years, 9 months ago

Could one of the problems with schools are that there are too many people trying to run them. Dont know how many school districts there are in Kansas probably a couple of hundred. You have the State Education dept., then each school district has their own school board. It seems to me that each district is run by for the most part people that do not know anything about education only that they are trying to push their own agenda. Lets take WalMart, do you think Walmart would have been a sucess if each store managment team tryed to run the store according to their own idea about how it should be run. With schools there are too many fingers in the pot.

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

Chootspa: "Like many vague modern people, I have a dictionary.

Fair Adjective: In accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate."

And that is the beauty a vague modern people. On one hand, they will claim that "fair" is simply in accordance with the rules, but as soon as they do not like how the rules are implemented, they will claim that [whatever] is unfair. For example, if the rules say that x pays more in tax than y, they are the first to scream "unfair."

There is no such thing as a "fair education." If all one is demanding is a legitimate education, then a high school which teaches the three Rs and nothing more suffices. One is basically educated if one can read, write, and perform arithmetic, and one has the basis he needs to pursue a life of philosophical contemplation or designing buildings. But create a high school which provides nothing but those, and they who rely on dictionary definitions will suddenly find more items that 'fair' demands, like sports and music and phy ed. This is not to say those things are not good, but it is to say they are subjective and demand a subjective definition of 'fair.'

The Kansas Constitution says that "The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state." It does not give "rights" to "fair" education for students. It does not demand equality. All of those things may be good,but they are not what the Constitution demands. Those who claim that the constitution demands "that every child has the right to a fair and equal education" are simply making it up. Those who try to justify that through silly dictionary games are merely enabling the dishonest habits of politicians. Seriously, do we really need to make it easier for politicians to lie to us?

jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

"suitable" is as vague and unhelpful as "fair", and certainly as subjective.

So for some, suitable may mean fair and equal, and for others, it means something different.

Either way, it's not well defined, and requires interpretation.

Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

"So for some, suitable may mean fair and equal"

True enough, but the word does not mean fair or equal, it means proper or appropriate. If we are just going to make up our own definitions, then we might as well dispense with the document altogether. But in any case, the adjective applies to 'provision for finance' not to the education itself. It a huge leap from a constitutional requirement on the legislature to provide money specifically to finance schools to "every child has the right to a fair and equal education." It is such a huge leap that we are back to where I started: I really doubt they have read the document they are pronouncing upon.

But you are correct that it is just as subjective. That's why we elect people and charge them with financing schools. Schools may need more money or less, more tests or fewer, longer buses or shorter, but it is the legislature that is responsible for that task by the Constitution. The state constitution says no more about the rights of children in their schools than the federal one says about the rights specific to soldiers in the armed forces it charges the government to establish.

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