Archive for Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Bell: Stories in the works this week; more funding doesn’t equal better test scores?

August 29, 2012


News and notes from Douglas County schools:

• I've been away from Lawrence for a few days, but upon my return Tuesday morning, I started looking into the number of exchange and international students currently in the area. It's a topic near and dear to me as my mom did an EF program when she was in high school and then I stayed with that same family years later. If you're a member of a host family yourself, please contact me if you wouldn't mind being interviewed briefly; you can call at 832-6939. Look for a full story soon.

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• The independent news site featured a Kansas story today on the fact that, though education funding is going up, test scores like the ACT are pretty flat. Travis Perry makes the argument through stats from the Kansas Policy Institute, a Wichita policy group, which points out that per-pupil funding is lower in Colorado and Texas, but ACT scores are higher. Read the full story here.

• Free State High School recent graduates Nina Keizer, Lauren Nus and Ruthie Ozonoff had work featured in this year's Aerie International, a magazine for and by high school student writers and authors.

• Last week, U.S.D. 497 expanded by at least one — board member Shannon Kimball had a baby girl on Tuesday. Board president Vanessa Sanburn told me that she's expecting, too, in January.

• Anything I need to learn? Send news tips, comments or questions to


1983Hawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Alex - I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you weren't told to characterize watchdog as an "independent news site," the most laughably inaccurate assertion possible. They are a Koch funded mouthpiece and are about as "independent" as Rupert Mudoch's Fixed News Network. Next time please check into the shadowy backgrounds of these think tanks and fake media organizations that keep springing up with carefully concocted political half-truths based only on carefully selected and eagerly spun data BEFORE you characterize them as "Independent" or even as a "news site." Very poor journalism on your part. You get a C- here, and I'm being charitable.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

"Vilson describeds Walmart’s involvement in "Teachers Rock" as evidence of an agenda “to Walmart-ize teachers" by securing the power to “totally strip collective-bargaining rights and health benefits," and exercise discretion to replace teachers at will. As David Moberg has reported, Walmart has had a hostile relationship with organized labor for decades. None of its U.S. stores are unionized."

Wal-Mart European stores are unionized and need to be if Wal Mart wants to locate in Europe.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

Public School Districts work on a budget which is not in the red..... as far as I know.

Private industry and households work off borrowed money daily which I suppose is working in the red. We borrow for homes,cars,investing,large appliances etc etc etc etc.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

Wal-Mart Anti Public Education In Action

Walmart, Right-Wing Media Company Hold Star-Studded Benefit Promoting Education Reform Film


kansasdaughter 1 year, 7 months ago

A highly controversial book, 'Freakonomics' by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner demonstrates how parental involvement is THE key factor in a students success. Until this is understood by parents, no amount of money will solve the failure of children in K-12 education. (The controversy mainly focused on other conclusions made in the book, not the ideas about the success of a student.)

Since children will, more often than not, mimic the behaviors of their parent(s) (single or two parent families), modeling a love for reading will be demonstrated in the child's behavior. It's a fact that I have seen played out in my own very large extended family.


Rex Hargis 1 year, 7 months ago

Pork -- government agencies are supposed to run in the red. If they make a profit, they are cheating somebody. I want to see one break even (spend exactly the budget, and no more. That, to my belief, has never happened.) If you are talking about spending less than the amount budgeted, forget it. The way it works, if you come in under budget, your budget next year is cut.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

The History of Public Schools in America

Hundreds of years ago, most learning happened at home. Parents taught their children or, if their families could afford it, private tutors did the job. The Puritans were the first in this country to point out the need for some kind of public education. They established schools to teach not just the essentials-reading, writing and math- but also to reinforce their core values.

After the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson argued that the newly independent nation needed an educational system, and he suggested that tax dollars be used to fund it. His pleas were ignored, however, and the idea for a public school system languished for nearly a century.

By the 1840s, a few public schools had popped up around the country in the communities that could afford them. However, that smattering of schools wasn't good enough for education crusaders Horace Mann of Massachusetts and Henry Barnard of Connecticut. They began calling for free, compulsory school for every child in the nation.

Massachusetts passed the first compulsory school laws in 1852. New York followed the next year, and by 1918, all American children were required to attend at least elementary school.

Next came the movement to create equal schooling for all American children, no matter what their race. At the turn of the 20th century, schools in the South, and many in the North, were segregated. The 1896 Supreme Court ruling, Plessy v. Ferguson upheld the legality of segregation. Finally, in 1954, the Supreme Court overturned its ruling with the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education, and public schools became open to people of all races.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

"The same could be applied to some charter schools." Not sure how charter school students are selected. I have read that charter schools are more expensive and that some principals draw a salary of $250,000 a year.

I say the public school model is excellent and has prepared millions upon millions for college or community college or Vo-Tech. = Damn good tax dollar investment since 1820.

Vocational education is first funded when the Smith-Hughes Act passes in 1917.

"Today, school choice, bilingual education, and testing are the hot issues being debated in communities, government chambers, and newspaper op-ed pages. These reform initiatives have lofty goals of increasing access, raising standards of quality, spawning innovation, and empowering students. But as promising as each of these initiatives may be, each produces unintended consequences, thus increasing the complexity of the debate."


Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

There is no evidence that private schools will provide a better education. Private schools have the right to deny their institutions to those students who might achieve the desired goal of the private institution.

The same could be said for charter schools.

Public schools must accept all who come through their doors. Therefore must accept the challenges accordingly.


jhawkinsf 1 year, 7 months ago

"Don't let slower kids into your boutiques charter school". - Another way of saying that is: If I'm spending thousands of dollars to send my child to a private school, I guarantee you that he/she will work hard in all of his classes and he/she will behave up to the expected standards.

It's a promise, an understanding that there is a partnership between parents and schools. It includes a mechanism for enforcing that partnership (should child and/or parent not keep up their end of the bargain, the school may terminate the agreement. Should the school not keep up their end of the agreement, the parent may terminate). Unfortunately, the parent/school partnership in public schools has lost it's importance along with the fact that there is no way to enforce such an agreement. But don't blame those sending their children to boutique schools. We're doing what's best for our children. To expect less would be irresponsible.


Paul R Getto 1 year, 7 months ago

ACT and SAT scores are dependent on what percentage of the student population takes it each year. Want good ACT scores? Only test the best students. Want good K-12 scores? Don't let the slower kids into your boutique charter school. While you are at it, find the head of any private organization willing to assert that money "doesn't matter."


Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

Throwing money at the public schools? Since when. Certainly not in the last decade. Before Topeka began cutting funding USD 497 was receiving raving reviews. I believe it was among the top in the country....... not so anymore.

It is somewhat like running a business. If too much money is not reinvested in the business goes out of business which is the underlying motivation of Sam Brownback. No he is not alone he has partners like Grover Norquist,Koch money,Wal-Mart money and governors in Indiana,Ohio,Michigan,Florida,New Jersey and such.

Make no mistake about it this is a orchestrated event. Dave Trabert is among the puppets.

Private industry is more efficient,less bureaucracy and manages funds more fiscally sound? BS! Why then are taxpayers always called upon to bail out private industry or give millions if not billions in tax subsidies locally,at the state level and the beltway level?


Pork_Ribs 1 year, 7 months ago

Blame everyone except for those who are actually responsible. That seems to be the tenor of most of the threads on this topic. Why? Are you all afraid of offending someone? I don't get it. "Flat" or lowered test scores are not the teacher's fault. It is not because of a lack of funds. Throwing money at public schools hasn't worked yet. Why any rational adult who's observed this for 10 or 20+ years think it will somehow work now is beyond me. It has never worked. It is not NCLB Act. It's not the administrators or the teachers union. It's not the Democrats or Republicans. And the worn out scapegoat that is the Koch Family for every woe is completely best. It is simply the lack of attention by parents and the enabling of their children to fail. They are just "too busy" to pay attention and administer consequences for poor school work. Administrators have caved to 'parent pressure'. Lowering standards and taking the 'F' out of the system. I was at a party last week where a parent was explaining why they were holding 'Johnny' back this year. He was upset that the teachers/school didn't recognize that he had a real hard time reading. I was stunned. I said "You mean you didn't see this Every Night when he read to you before bed?" He just looked at me...deer in headlights. They didn't read with him. Un-Real. They were actually surprised that the kid was having issues. There are many obvious financial and educational reasons why students in private schools do better than public. I concede all of those. But the most important one that, many times, gets over looked is simply that a far greater percentage of parents take an active role in the child's education and follow through with consequences with work that is below the child's abilities. You can tax everyone to death and pay teacher's a million bucks a year....that will not make 'Steve and Jennifer' miraculously put down the remote or keyboard to help 'Johnny' make better grades. 'Johnny' get's too upset when you pull him off his Xbox anyway. S & J would rather be his BFF's than his parents. Until parent's get out of themselves, their T.V., their Facebook, their work, their personal drama, etc, and get deeply involved with their child's education ...nothing will change.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 7 months ago

Clearly, as is the goal with all Koch front groups, Kansas Policy Institute's sole goal is to cut funding for all government programs in order to 1) allow further tax cuts to wealthy individuals and corporations and 2) dismantle most government programs as a matter of ideology.

But in the short term, before they've actually pulled the plug on public schools altogether, I'd like to hear what they would suggest cutting in order to slash that funding.

Should class sizes be doubled so that half of all teachers could be fired? Should the remaining teachers be required to work at minimum wage with no benefits? Should current school buildings be sold off to the highest bidders, and then move classes into Butler buildings? Should all forms of technology, including computers and electric lights, be eliminated, in favor of candles and chalkboards? Should the kids be required to bring their own chairs?

If money really doesn't matter in educational outcomes, what exactly does the AFP suggest gets cut?


Flap Doodle 1 year, 7 months ago

Throwing money at a problem doesn't always work? Inconceivable!


Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

It seems to me that USD 497 is still in Kansas. More tax dollars to USD 497 is healthy for our LOCAL economic growth. Bring home those tax dollars to Lawrence,Kansas.

Teacher Unions are healthy for the economy no question about it. Once again public education is not evil.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

Not only that an increase in the wages of teachers bring more of OUR tax dollars back to the community.

Also promotes local economic growth as a result!

This new radical conservative republican party hates public education and good pay for hard working people! They prefer Chinese wages for America.

Stop electing this new radical conservative republican party to any position.


FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 7 months ago

The best way for government union people to help the kids is obvious to them.

+ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – A former fifth-grade teacher implicated in a cheating scandal reportedly gave students the illegal assistance because she thought they were “dumb as hell.”

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, math teacher Shayla Smith was accused of offering students the answers to a test they were taking at the time. She had reportedly been responsible for supervising them while the tests were being completed.

Schajuan Jones, who taught a fourth-grade class across the hall from Smith’s former room, overheard her talking to another teacher about the test.

“The words were, ‘I had to give your kids, or your students, the answers because they’re dumb as hell,’” Jones was quoted as saying about the interaction between Smith and the unidentified third teacher


Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

This very conservative watch dog group is sponsored by anti public school money. Let's take a look at that. Trabert did not provide a credible source for his claims.

Public Education is not evil. So let's pay up Topeka,Kansas to increase the wages of our teaching staff throughout Kansas.

Based on the theory coming from insider Trabert it is time to cut off subsidies to large and small corporations for they should learn to make do with what they have rather than take money from from ME by way of government politicians.

I would rather have my tax dollars and more go into the paychecks of Kansas teachers

It could be that No Child Left Behind teaches to prepare for local tests but not the ACT.

More funding would impact teacher wages which are quite low and cannot support a family living in Lawrence.

Teacher wages are usually a forgotten in Lawrence,Kansas.

Teacher Salary Support
Would you favor a sales tax increase to provide more money for Lawrence teacher salaries? Of 5,198 votes increasing teacher salaries 4,204 votes in favor of increased teacher salaries.


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