Archive for Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brownback, senators refused to help Topeka school district in grant application for federal funds

December 5, 2012, 2:02 p.m. Updated December 5, 2012, 3:51 p.m.


— Kansas’ top elected officials refused to help the Topeka school district’s efforts to try to secure a $40 million, three-year federal education grant.

Topeka School Superintendent Julie Ford said Wednesday that she was surprised Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, all Republicans, declined to assist in the district’s effort to land the Race to the Top Grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

“It’s our tax money, and it’s going to go somewhere. So why not Kansas kids?” Ford said.

As part of its grant submission, Topeka school officials sought letters of support from Kansas political leaders.

The grant was aimed at raising student achievement, narrowing the achievement gap and improving teachers’ effectiveness.

“These are all goals the governor supports,” said Brownback’s policy director Jon Hummell in an email to Topeka school officials.

But Hummell said the grant encouraged the use of Common Core standards, which he said have "been questioned by legislators at the state and federal level.”

Common Core standards are a model for teaching and learning math and reading that are aimed at better preparing students for college and careers. Forty-six states, including Kansas, have approved the standards, and they are starting to be implemented in the classroom. The standards are described as more rigorous than previous standards, focusing more on depth of knowledge rather than breadth.

Hummell added that Kansas legislators have requested an audit to determine the cost of adopting Common Core State Standards.

“I believe it would be more prudent for the governor’s office to withhold any endorsement of an application that includes the adoption of the CCSS until we have an opportunity to review the results of the audit,” Hummell said.

Ford said the school district’s request for support for its grant application was also turned down by Roberts and Moran. U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, did support the grant, Ford said.

Moran said Race to the Top grants lead to more federal government interference in education and that school officials in Kansas told him that because of the many requirements of the program, it would be unlikely that small, rural districts could win grants. Roberts’ staff forwarded congressional testimony Roberts gave in opposition to the Race to the Top grant program.

“Whenever I meet with any K-12 (kindergarten through 12th grade) education group from Kansas, the one major message I receive is unified opposition to RTT because it places small/rural states at an unfair disadvantage,” Roberts said.

“In addition, I do not believe the federal government should be mandating a one-size-fits-all education reform agenda by proposing a financial reward system in order to force states to make changes deemed worthwhile by the administration,” he said.

Recently, the Topeka school district found out it didn’t make the cut for the grant. Ford said 270 districts nationwide applied for the funds.

She said much of the grant’s proposal was aimed at improving early learning and pre-kindergarten, which she said is particularly important in the Topeka school district where three-fourths of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Although the district didn’t receive the grant, Ford said putting the grant together helped district officials strategically focus on current and future needs and gather important input from the community.

For Brownback, this isn’t the first time he has resisted federal interaction. Last month, he announced that his administration wouldn’t partner with the feds to set up a health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

“Kansans feel Obamacare is an overreach by Washington and have rejected the state’s participation in this federal program,” he said at the time. Critics said he wasted an opportunity for Kansas to have input on the exchange in order to score political points.

In a related move earlier in his administration, Brownback sent back a $31 million federal grant that would have helped the state set up the exchange, which is aimed at assisting consumers in the purchase of health insurance.

And so far, Brownback has declined to sign on to federally funded expansion of Medicaid, saying that he is studying the issue.


Dan Eyler 5 years, 1 month ago

Very good decision by the governor and senators. This isn't only a Kansas issue. Many are concerned about the direction this grant will move education in the state. We shouldn't take money for the sake of taking the money. This is the argument being made by the Topeka school system.

In the mean time let me point out to everyone how big a real fool the author of the first post is. Must be the holiday blues and no friends.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

Translation-- this won't advance my (or Brownback's) 10th-century superstitious agenda.

Alyosha 5 years, 1 month ago

Kindly provide evidence that "This is the argument being made by the Topeka school system" is more than your own belief, but is actually what the entirety, or even some, of the Topeka school system is arguing.

If you can't provide evidence for your assertion, why, as an honorable and moral person, would you make such an assertion?

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

What leads you to believe that faithful is an honorable and moral person?

Alyosha 5 years, 1 month ago

I find, both personally and anecdotally through history, that treating others with the respect with which I'd like to be treated is generally better than presuming the worst about people.

simpleton 5 years, 1 month ago

The only reason for these foolhardy decisions is to prop Brownback up for a 2016 run as the State's Rights candidate who wouldn't take handouts from the federal government. We just happen to be lucky enough to live in the petri dish of his misguided experiment.

Phil Minkin 5 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

james bush 5 years, 1 month ago

The federal government should not have a DEPT OF EDUCATION!

Alyosha 5 years, 1 month ago

Why not? George Washington, whose thoughts I and all patriotic Americans should treat with due respect, said "Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."

One could quite reasonably argue the the Department of Education is in line with Washington's counsel to posterity to make sure that the general diffusion of knowledge is a national priority, since " is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 1 month ago

Why not? Because the 10th amendment still exists. Amend the Constitution or don't, those are your options- ignoring it isn't

Alyosha 5 years, 1 month ago

Not sure what the 10th has to do with this.

Nor too clear on how the various politicians going back to (conservative, Republican) President Harding, who proposed a Dept. of Education and Welfare in 1923, and (Republican) President Eisenhower, under whom the first Department of Health, Education and Welfare was created, "ignored" the Constitution, as you put it.

Kindly explain how these conservative Republican presidents "ignored" the Constitution.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 1 month ago

George Washington argued for promotion and support of education on the federal level but did not suggest any federal control or dictation of policy hence under Washington no federal department of education existed. In fact, Washington's cabinet had only 3 positions- not the 15 that government has grown to today.

simpleton 5 years, 1 month ago

jimincountry... you forgot to add, "Harrumph!"

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

The scores dropped, because the tests and standards are more rigorous. Should we lower the standards again, so the scores are high?

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 1 month ago

be careful tomatogrower- a lot of federal education grant money is used to do just that. I worked at a school once where federal education grant money was used to buy laptops so that state assessments could be taken on computer instead of on paper as studies had shown that this generation of kids test better on computer than on paper. After the computers showed up, students were tested and scores went up. Voila, kids are now more educated! I mean, just look at the "increased" scores to prove it.

xyz 5 years, 1 month ago

Ironically funny that Lynn didn't get the party-line email in time to not send a letter of support like her chums.

Since most of the grant's proposal was aimed at improving early learning and pre-kindergarten, that only makes FlimFlamSam's "justification" for not supporting the grant even more disgusting, since "Common Core standards are a model for teaching and learning math and reading that are aimed at better preparing students for college and careers."

Oh, my! Three-fourths of the students in the Topeka district are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Did you know that, FlimFlamSam? Hope that you'll be praying for those kids at your prayer festapalooza in Topeka on Saturday.

dabbindan 5 years, 1 month ago

school grants bad. wind subsidy good. obama care bad. disaster funds good.

just a pickin' and a grinnin'. what a hee haw.

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

You forgot agricultural subsidies good.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 1 month ago

I dunno; Brownback supports free lunch subsidies for oil companies too, and they really add up:

WilburM 5 years, 1 month ago

Aren't we all -- as Kansans, as Americans -- in this together? Why not try to obtain resources to improve education for a district that clearly has needs? this goes beyond ideology; it's governmental malpractice.

Alyosha 5 years, 1 month ago

Especially given that a core function of Kansas government is to provide for intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement by establishing and maintaining public schools, educational institutions and related activities.

cowboy 5 years, 1 month ago

You are witnessing the Washington pushback against the State of Kansas Bio Lab stalled Grants withheld Kansas rep kicked off congressional committee Laughing stock of the country

All the while petulant savior Sam spends our tax dollars to travel around the world on the premise he's selling Kansas. We'll we all have seen the salesman who comes back to the office with no orders. Thats Sam. All talk no results Sam.

Now your roosters are coming home Sam. They are named deficit and failed policy. Perhaps you could get a small format program of Race To The Top for your staff , the legislature , and your whack job consultants. Arithmetic would be an admirable skill to add to all of these personnel.

Every time I read a story about Brownback , all of which are disturbing , I am reminded of John Goodmans you tube rant on the show Treme. Google it

Alyosha 5 years, 1 month ago

"coercing" -- needlessly emotional and inflammatory language.

"place the future of Kansas' children in the hands of Obama loving Washington bureaucrats virtually eliminating parents participation in education" -- irrational hyperbole

Try to define "liberal" as you use it in this sentence: "Another liberal one sided article from Scott Rothschild." I bet you can't. One should know be able to define one's terms.

What specifically is Rothschild advocating in this piece? Simply reporting facts is seen as advocacy only by those with overly active imaginations and partisan chips on their shoulders.

Try also to formulate accurate thoughts and descriptions that aren't emotional hyperbole.

Lastly, cite evidence for your claim that "it would cost Kansas taxpayers billions to realign the current education system to conform to the DOE's vision." Without evidence your claim is appropriately worthless to any objective citizen.

Joe Hyde 5 years, 1 month ago

If 46 states, including Kansas, have indeed approved the Common Core standards and are already beginning to implement them (per the article) then only one conclusion can be drawn from the refusal of Gov. Brownback and Senators Moran and Roberts to throw their weight behind Topeka school district's federal grant application:

They are willing, in the name of "partisan purity", to sacrifice the chances Topeka school children have of attaining improved academic and life skills.

$40 million in badly needed help...out the window, gone away.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

Being an effective leader and advocate for schools would undermine his agenda of defunding them and handing that money to private enterprises.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 1 month ago

Wow! First time I ever saw an article disappeareded! You get a phone call from the Governor's mansion?

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

Oh my god. If the Republicans supported education, then those uppity poor people would better their lives and expect to be paid a living wage.

Briseis 5 years, 1 month ago

Brownie knows Obama doesn't have any money left in his stash, so why fill out paper work for Obama money? He broke.

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

So let me get this straight. Lower taxes are good because we get to keep more of our money in our pockets but tax money that we already paid and is being returned back to us is bad?

simpleton 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes. Sadly, it helps paint the picture that Kansas pays more into the system than receives. It's all posturing for a 2016 run for Brownback. In the meantime, our children are pawns.

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

Well the picture does look like this...

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

I am almost at a loss for words. Despicable!!! Utterly and profoundly despicable.

msezdsit 5 years, 1 month ago

Anything the republicans can do to further disadvantage the needy and our children. There aint a hole deep enough for these thugs.

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 1 month ago

Brownback, Roberts. and Moran have NO interest in a well educated electorate. What would become of Brownbackistan and the Koch regime?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

Brownback, et al, have one goal in mind when it comes to public schools-- inducing their complete failure and ultimate collapse. And when that happens, their cronies and campaign donors in private "educational" concerns will be there to cash in.

pittstatebb 5 years, 1 month ago

Some facts to add to this discussion that seemed to have been left out.

1) The CCSS were adopted by KSDE in Oct of 2010. Either Jon Hummell is misinformed or he was misquoted by Scott Rothschild.

2) The RTT grants does not coerce states to use something that they have already voluntarily adopted.

3) The CCSS were initiated by the National Governor's Association (of which Sam Brownback is now a member). They do not keep local districts from using more rigorous standards, they simply say you will be held to at least this level. I see this as a good thing, not a bad thing.

4) The cost associated with CCSS will come from implementing an assessment to test these standards. Currently that test is being developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium ( There is an alternative movement in the state to use the ACT battery of tests instead. However, no decision has been made at this point.

In my personal opinion you are very misinformed on this topic. Please go to and if you would like to become more informed.

jimmyjms 5 years, 1 month ago

There is not one factual assertion in your rant, RC.

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

rc1977, the new standards were developed by universities. They are being implemented to prevent states, like Texas, from lowering standards so much, the test scores make the state look really good.

I posted the following in the poll. We aren't stupid. We know the real reasons for this. rc1977 is either in the bubble or just part of the plan.

Brownback and company want to destroy public schools. They have their for profit groups waiting in the wings. Want your kid to learn that the president is king, and the dynasty started with Reagan? There will be a school for that. Want your kid to learn that any religion other than Christian is evil? There will be a school for that. Want your kid to learn that whites are superior? There will be a school for that. Want your kid to think that babies come from the cabbage patch? There will be a school for that. Want poor kids to learn to accept their poverty as god's plan is to have really poor people who work for really rich people for little money, so the really rich people can get even more money, so just accept your fate and get into the soup line? There will be a school for that. Want your rich kid to not have to do any work to get a high school or college degree, because they don't need to work for a living anyway; they just need credentials? There will be a school for that. Just pony up your money. Oh, no money? Good, they can pay you even less, since you aren't educated. Keep voting for those tea party people.

Centerville 5 years, 1 month ago

Read up on Common Core. It is less than worthless.

Centerville 5 years, 1 month ago

"Common Core creates high-quality, low-cost CCSS-based curriculum tools." All it amounts to (under a mountain of blathering) is: children should learn to read, write and do math at their grade levels. That will be $40,000,000 please.

jimmyjms 5 years, 1 month ago

Uh, that unsourced quote doesn't do a lot to bolster your argument.

pittstatebb 5 years, 1 month ago

That quote comes from, the link I mistakenly placed in my reply above (now since corrected). I will not blame centerville for using it, it just does not really have any relevance to the topic at hand.

I still would like centerville to explain why he belives common core standards are worthless.

Centerville 5 years, 1 month ago

Or to put it another way: No Child Left Behind has nothing on Common Core.

kernal 5 years, 1 month ago

Evidently, Sam wants the Kansas education system to be as stellar as Missippippi's.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 1 month ago

And the Koch regime's bought and paid-for facists strike again!

These GOP's got their collective butts kicked in the election and believe that to regain any integrety, they should plunge head-long down the same path. Kansas has its own "cliff", the one that our elected officials are headed over on the right side of all political discourse.

When are Kansas voers going to wake up? Probably never.

attorney1776 5 years, 1 month ago

“These are all goals the governor supports,” said Brownback’s policy director Jon Hummell in an email to Topeka school officials.

Hummell added that Kansas legislators have requested an audit to determine the cost of adopting Common Core State Standards.

“I believe it would be more prudent for the governor’s office to withhold any endorsement of an application that includes the adoption of the CCSS until we have an opportunity to review the results of the audit,” Hummell said.

Shouldn't the headline more accurately reflect the news story as "Governor and Legislators Defer Decision on Helping Topeka School District Pending Cost Audit."

Instead we once again get Mr. Rothschild's biased, tilted, misrepresentative headline which does not reflect the true meaning of the article and is intended to stir up anti-Brownback sentiment and mislead the readers.

pittstatebb 5 years, 1 month ago

But . . . the reasoning given by Jon Hummel is invalid. These standards have already been adopted. Either Hummel is misquoted or completely misinformed.

Possibly he is refering to a study on which assessment platform to use (Smarter Balanced or ACT), but there is no way around the fact that CCSS have already been adopted in Kansas (Oct 2010).

The Federal govenment is going to require a NCLB test (whichever the state chooses). The cost of said test should have no weight upon whether the Governor will support a RTT grant application by USD 501. WE HAVE ALREADY ADOPTED THE STANDARDS AND HAVE TO GIVE A TEST.

Our Senators' reasoning that RTT grants come with too many strings attached (which they do) is suspect also because these same strings were the ones attached to the NCLB waiver that Kansas (as a state) voluntarily applied for and recieved. WE ARE ALREADY SUSPECT TO THESE SAME STRINGS AS A STATE AS A WHOLE.

Why do you think the superintendent wanted this article published? The reasoning she received from these 3 elected officials makes absolutely no sense. They would have been better off to just stick with the state's right arguement.

Alyosha 5 years, 1 month ago

You assume that Mr. Rothschild wrote the headline. That's not how news organizations work.

More than likely a copy editor wrote the headline, or an editor further up the chain.

Your assumptions / premise are faulty and without merit, and consequently, right as rain, your conclusions are equally faulty and without merit.

Brian Laird 5 years, 1 month ago

Where's the bias? Grants have due dates - you can't say help was "deferred" if that "deferral" puts the possibility of support beyond the due date of the grant. It is then simply a refusal - so the headline is accurate. Anyway, as others have said the state has already adopted the standards, so the concept of a pre-adoption audit is moot.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 1 month ago

No one wants to abolish our public schools. I am sure we all desire value for our tax dollars. I do not see much value Nationally from the current system. Until schools go to some type of performance based system we will continue to throw good money after bad.

parco814 5 years, 1 month ago

First of all, yes, some people do want to abolish public education--Rand Paul would do it if he could, and he has plenty of fans. SB doesn't want to abolish it, he just wants to starve, cripple, and maim it. The evil teacher's union's got to be taught its lesson, you see.

Considering that the Governor and our two sorry Senators detest the President and have no respect for the will of the American people in reelecting him, I have to wonder how much weight their signatures would have carried on this effort.

It's too bad that students trapped in red states like KS don't have an option in these cases. Since it's no surprise that SB, Roberts, and Moran wouldn't sign on, it's too bad the effort can't go forward with some alternate signatures. The students shouldn't be penalized for the politician's hostility to the public interest.

Plus, had those slobs tempered their pride a little bit and just signed on, they might have some influence over the standards that they use as their excuse for not supporting the bid. But I'm not buying their explanation. They want to stick it to the President and his administration and they don't care who gets hurt.

After all, SB and company have enough on their plates, making sure KS taking on momentum in its race to the bottom, where we can join Texas, Mississippi, and other dumps where government exists only to reinforce the privileges of the few. If only we could pray these snakes away, I might start believing in SB's deity.

Tbl 5 years, 1 month ago

The idea that common core standards are going to usurp the authority of the state is without merit. What does have merit are the demands of B of Labor Stats, the Council for Foreign Relations and the DOD, who say the the quality of student being turn out of our schools does not meet the growing demand of employers. Critical thinking skills are in demand. Multible choice State assessments do not measure critical thinking skills to the level needed measure success. The beauty of the current process of testing is it gives politicians the numbers to rail upon. We are missing the boat on this one folks. Movement toward a qualitative critical curriculum and away from the current quanitative curriculum is well advised. I've attached the study released by the CFR.

Christine Anderson 5 years, 1 month ago

Brownback, you......!! This man wants us to pray? (As mentioned in another article?) I'll pray, alright. I pray and help to vote him out of office !!

Reminds me of the country song "Pray For You", by Jaron Long.

Alyosha 5 years, 1 month ago


You do understand how grants work, yes? The district itself applies for a grant to the DoED. A simple investigation on your part would easily give you the information you're apparently lacking.

Pray tell: what do you consider President Obama's "preferred races"?

And by the way, a simple Google search results in finding out the that demographic break down of District 501 is roughly:

White, 73.7% Black or African American, 13.5%

See the full list of information at

Melinda Toumi 5 years, 1 month ago

What a waste of tax payer $, studying common core... Why study something adopted state wide nearly three years ago?? And how disrespectful to our state's public school teachers. They are working very very hard at learning the new standards, and planning on how to modify their practices to implement the new standards. It is disrespectful to denigrate something that so much earnest effort is being poured into. I'm not surprised though. Anything affecting primarily women in Kansas will be blocked, hampered, disrespected, and treated with heavy hands...

Melinda Toumi 5 years, 1 month ago

Also, Gotland, really? Obama loved his mother. A white girl from Kansas...

Gerald Kendrick 5 years, 1 month ago

Stimmt das Herr Gotland? It is just as likely that your Fuhrer stymied the grant because there are are more of his favored ubermenschen in the small towns. Schwein.

4getabouit 5 years, 1 month ago

Moran, Roberts and Brownback: Career politicians driven by ambition with no regard for the people they serve....especially minority kids. Mr. Brownback who pretends to despise government handouts, personally accepts over $48 K in farm subsidies. Moran, a one-time Kansas moderate would now sell his soul to maintain his US Senate status. And Roberts, a nobody on the national scene, who has never had an original thought, just wants to skate to his pension. These guys have done nothing for the good people of Kansas.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 1 month ago

Seems like to me these three you mention are working. How about all the career moochers posting in here who are enjoying welfare, public transportation, bicycle paths, library and the like?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Most republican legislators do not support the public education system. They would rather launder money into a corporate system know as Charter schools or some other nonsense. Some call this facism.

Repubs prefer high dollar CEO's and shareholders so they funnel our tax dollars in that direction. Knowing full well that corporate USA is the most reliable source of fraud on the planet. And corp USA will spend tax dollars on political campaigns = terrible use of education dollars.

A Corporate USA education system answers only to their bottom line which will never guarantee a superior education for our children.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Every state constitution in the country enshrines the right to a free and public education for all children—an honor that is not bestowed on other requisites for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, whether housing or employment or healthcare.

In the current debates on vouchers, there is strikingly little discussion of the relationship between democratic values, civic responsibility, and public education. Instead, education is treated as a mere commodity, with parents and children reduced to mere consumers.

Do our urban public school systems have deep-seated problems? Without a doubt. But at the end of the day, they are the only institutions with the commitment, capacity, and legal obligation to teach all children.

In Milwaukee, vouchers have created separate and unequal school systems. The education of students with special educational needs is just one example. The percentage of special ed students in Milwaukee’s public schools is about 20 percent. At the private voucher schools, the comparable figure is less than 2 percent.

“All together, the 102 voucher schools are serving a special education population that is equal to what the Milwaukee Public Schools serves in just one of its district schools: Hamilton High School,” Milwaukee superintendent Gregory Thornton noted last year.

Vouchers were promoted in the 1990s as a way to help poor black children escape failing schools. But that rhetoric has disappeared in Milwaukee. Voucher supporters have expanded vouchers to middle-income families and have made clear they want to make vouchers available to all, including millionaires. Vouchers for poor children was just a first step.

For more than twenty years, I have listened to the voucher movement’s seductive rhetoric of “choice” and “parent power.” If I didn’t know better, I might proclaim, “Sign me up today!” Milwaukee, however, has more than two decades of reality-based vouchers. The lesson from this heartland city?

Vouchers are a vehicle to funnel tax dollars into private schools. Using the false promise of “choice,” they are an unabashed abandonment of public education and of our hopes for a vibrant democracy.

Barbara Miner has been a reporter, writer, and editor for almost forty years, writing for publications ranging from the New York Times to the Milwaukee Journal. The former managing editor of Rethinking Schools, she has co-edited numerous books on education, including Selling out Our Schools: Vouchers, Markets, and the Future of Public Education.

Her book Lessons from the Heartland: A Turbulent Half-Century of Public Education in an Iconic American City will be published New Press in January 2013.

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