Archive for Wednesday, July 4, 2012

State board urged to seek millions in school funding

July 4, 2012, 10:05 p.m. Updated July 4, 2012, 10:05 p.m.


Topeka — Education advocates are urging the State Board of Education to request millions more in state tax dollars to fund public schools in Kansas, arguing that the money is needed to maintain recent achievement gains and a trained workforce.

Representatives of the Kansas National Education Association and Kansas Association of School Boards sent letters to the state Department of Education saying the funding request is in keeping with the 10-member state board’s duty to children.

Claudette Jones, executive director of the KNEA, which represents teachers statewide, advocated for full funding as called for in state law — which would mean more than $440 million alone in base aid to districts.

“Funding for schools must be both adequate and equitable,” Jones wrote in her organization’s letter. “The future of our state and our ability to attract and retain business investment is dependent on a well-educated, well-trained workforce.”

Staff presented the 10-member board with a list of budget ideas during its June meeting, including increases in base state aid per student, enhanced support systems and funding for teacher development. Board members haven’t discussed the proposals in public, though a public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday of next week.

Last year, the board sought hundreds of millions in additional spending for schools. Board Chairman David Dennis said at the time that members had an obligation to advocate for students and that nothing less than funding the state law would suffice. A phone call to his home Tuesday rang unanswered.

Decisions made at the July 10 board meeting will be forwarded in the fall to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration for inclusion in the 2014 budget request that will be presented to legislators in January.

Legislators approved about $40 million in increases in education spending in the budget that took effect July 1. It increased the base state aid per student by $58 to $3,838. That was the first increase in per-student spending since the 2008-2009 school year and reversed a string of reductions brought about by the state’s financial struggles during the recession that began in late 2007.

However, additional increases could be difficult based on new changes to the Kansas income tax code signed into law by Brownback in May. Coupled with a previously scheduled sales tax decrease, the income tax reductions will provide $231 million in tax relief during the fiscal year beginning July 1, with the annual figure growing to $934 million after six years. That means less money coming into state government coffers.

Mark Tallman, lobbyist for the school board association, said the state board has advocated for full funding of schools in the past and should at the least seek an increase in base aid for schools in the coming year. But, he said, the tax changes can’t be ignored — and what could happen to recent gains in student achievement.

“KASB urges the state board to determine the potential impact of this bill on school finance and on educational outcomes in Kansas and take a leadership role of working with the governor and Legislature to minimize harmful results,” Tallman said.

The funding discussion comes as a trial is under way for a lawsuit filed on behalf of 54 school districts. Their attorneys argued during a three-week hearing before a three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court that current education spending levels are unconstitutional and that the state is in violation of a 2006 Kansas Supreme Court ruling.


Cogito_Ergo_Es 5 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps our school board should have waited to hear the outcome of this inevitable case or even have waited for the Governor's final budget before voting to spend all this money. We'll be able to do it for a year or so on reserves but their decision is not sustainable. Within a year or two we'll be saying good bye to all-day kindergarten or other programs, and certainly more elementary schools as we always want to balance the budget on the backs of our youngest during their foundational years, don't we? I absolutely agree we should have more money at our disposal and Brownback shouldn't have taken it away by cutting income taxes, but the fact remains he did, and this district is planning our children's future on money we know we won't have. Now, how's that going to work?

Dave Trabert 5 years, 10 months ago

The KNEA and KASB request would not cost $440 million...the total would be $646 million. Increasing the base aid per pupil to $4,492 would add $479 million in State aid would and automatically increase local property taxes by $167 million, by increasing the amount collected through the LOB. KPI has a calculator on our home page at

You can see there that funding the state portion through property taxes would amount to a 12% increase in your annual bill (the state would have to increase the current 20 mills to 36 mills) and the extra LOB would add another 4% increase. Total property taxes would increase by 16%.

Alternatively, if the state portion was funded through sales tax, the current rate of 6.3% would have to go to 7.5%...and you would still have a 4% increase in property taxes for LOB.

If the state chose to fund the extra $479 million in state aid with income tax, your tax bill would jump by 16%....and you would still have a 4% increase in property taxes for LOB.

By the way, Dale Dennis at KASB says our calculations are correct. If you go look at the calculator, it defaults to $6,142 in BSAPP, which school lawyers have said is 'adequate'. That would be a total tax increase of $2.1 billion.

It's a shame that so much attention is placed on funding instead of student outcomes, especially since its been proven time and again that higher spending does not translate to higher achievement.

Taxpayer support of public education in Kansas jumped from $3.1 billion in 1998 to $5.6 billion in 2011 (interesting side note: KSDE says 2012 will be a record-setting spending year at $5.7 billion). But Kansas scores on independent national assessments (National Assessment of Educational Progress) are flat.

The states in the region with the best NAEP scores on individual student cohorts (White, Hispanic, Low Income, etc) are Colorado and Texas. The most recent spending data shows that Kansas spent at least $1,200 per pupil MORE than those states. Examination of the cohort scores of all 50 states reveals that there is simply no correlation (let alone causation) between spending and achievement.

According to KSDE, only about half of Kansas' juniors have full comprehension of grade-appropriate material. The ACT college-readiness measurement says only 28% of Kansas high school graduates are college-ready in English, Reading, Math and Science. NAEP shows that Kansas' scores for each cohort are barely above average (which isn't saying much in the U.S.).

More money clearly isn't the answer to solving the achievement problem. It's a shame that kids will continue to suffer while the adults at KNEA and KASB fight to get themselves more money.

Cogito_Ergo_Es 5 years, 10 months ago

So are you suggesting that this increase would only go into the pockets of KNEA and KASB and not the classrooms of our children? Are you prepared to explore other reasons for the, lackluster achievement, as you seem to describe it, other than money? Perhaps Reason X is the reason for the perceived shortcomings and not the money at all, but with Reason X AND no money we'd be in even worse shape? Anyway, how do I know that your numbers are even meaningful? As with most people, you will only pick the numbers that support your argument, right?

Dave Trabert 5 years, 10 months ago

There's no question that many kids get an effective public education in Kansas, but the data clearly shows that many others are being left behind. KSDE acknowledges that the NAEP scores are meaningful...they said so in a press release last November. When scores remain unchanged while funding increases...especially following a large infusion of additional funding...the facts clearly show that more money is not the solution. As for pondering whether kids would be in worse shape if more money had not been put into the system, the fact that many states get the same or better results as Kansas with less money is further evidence that the level of resources is not the answer.

It's not about more resources, but how the resources are used.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

No. The facts do not clearly show that "more money isn't the solution" any more than they show that Texas, Colorado, and Kansas are the same states. Previous spending impacts present outcomes, and cuts in spending often take a few years to be seen in lowered outcomes. We don't live in a world with only two variables.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 10 months ago

You're making an unfounded claim. What data do you believe proves that money is the solution. Show me the data, not the rhetoric.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

I'm making an unfounded claim? Ha, that's rich coming from you. First off, money is not a solution. It's a means to the solution. Otherwise we'd sit our children next to a pile of cash and pick them up after they understood quantum physics and spoke fluent French.

I can point to many evidence-based approaches to education and can assure you that the personell and training required to implement them are not free. I can point to evidence that experienced teachers offer better quality education than subject matter experts and assure you that those teachers don't work for free or stay in the profession for years and years with no cost of living raises, and I can show you evidence that intensive early intervention programs and quality preschool (also not free) will greatly improve outcomes. We'd also do well to extend the school year while lowering the actual hours of instruction (more recess, more hands-on projects, etc). Not free.

Finally, I'll say that Finnish teachers earn slightly more than other university graduates in Finnland (102%), while American teachers on average earn about 65% of what the average university graduate does. You'll also find that general trend plays out in the USA where teachers in higher scoring schools earn more than teachers in lower scoring schools.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 10 months ago

A lot of words but still no evidence that more money is the solution for raising student achievement. Anecdotal information about what Finnish teachers earn is meaningless. Sure, early intervention is important and shows value, but that doesn't mean that more money is the answer. We could enhance early intervention by making other aspects of education more efficient or eliminating things that add no value.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

102% of average salary for a college graduate vs 65% of average. That's two entire countries of anecdotes, Dave. If it supported your claims, you'd call it data.

Basically your argument centers around the meaningless "more money" point that you've neither proven nor disproven, though you concede that I've suggested real solutions for improved outcomes. Suggestions that would, in fact, cost more money. The best you can counter is by suggesting that we trim the fat in other areas.

Yes - we could remove inefficiencies. Many of these inefficiencies are in things like high stakes testing and all the associated administrative tasks involved. Prep tests, pre tests, and all the rest out the door. Too much of NCLB incentivized the wrong behavior for the wrong reason, and it's never going to improve outcomes or educational quality. If your true goal were to improve public education while lowering the expense, this is where you'd start and not with the mindless charter advocacy. In fact, introducing public funding into the private sector with vouchers is a way to introduce more inefficiencies into the system.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 10 months ago

I take it you have no data to support your claim that more money is the solution to raising student achievement.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

I take it that your reading comprehension skills have not improved with age.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

So, if money is irrelevant to education, please tell us how the tax cuts to rich folks will have such magical effects on everything, Dave. Please support with data, and not the data that shows that 30 years of tax cuts have resulted in nothing more than a race to the bottom for everyone but your favorite benefactor (while you sit around in your cute little cheerleader uniform cheering it on-- or is that the short shorts and skimpy top of a whore?)

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

PS, the reason I say you've lost your reading comprehension skills (if they ever existed) is because I never claimed that money "was the solution." I just critiqued your claim that you'd proven "more money isn't the solution." I've shown many ways in which education could be improved, all of which would require additional funding to implement, and the best you can come up with is the notion that we need to redirect other funds to get there. Ok, which funds? And how do we get around the inconvenient maintenance laws for drawing down matching federal funds that state that we need to fund things at the same and higher levels each year?

As stated previously, money doesn't educate. Money is the resource used to buy the materials and pay the wages of the people that do educate. Simply cutting funding does not magically an efficient system make, and simply cutting it seems to be the only thing you're arguing should be done.

globehead 5 years, 10 months ago

"More money clearly isn't the answer to solving the achievement problem."

I tend to agree with how your theory works Dave. Additionally, more money in tax relief for the wealthy doesn't solve the jobs problem and more money for military hardware doesn't necessarily solve our security problems. Please relay that to your puppeteers.

Thanks for jumping on board.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 10 months ago

The evidence shows that more resources does not lead to higher test scores. The evidence also shows that lower taxes for everyone leads to economic growth and job creation. Multiple comparisons of low-tax and high-tax states are available in the Tax Reform section of our web site at

We do not advocate tax relief for just the wealthy, but for everyone. In fact, our testimony in opposition to early proposals that would have increased the tax burden on low income Kansans is also on our web site in the Press Room section. We support the tax reform that was passed because it is far better than no tax reform but our preference was for something that would have gradually reduced marginal rates on all individuals and employers.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

Oh look. You use a Koch source (Tax Foundation) to back up your Koch source (You), and then you put it all in a nice simple graph without looking at other factors like natural resource wealth and tourism industries. How convenient.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 10 months ago

If you read closer, you will see that access to natural resources is not the reason the low-burden states keep taxes low. It's because they provide necessary services at a much lower cost per-resident. Big states, small states, northern states, southern states, resource-rich or not...they simply operate more efficiently.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

That's ignoring the problem with your original data source. Again, you use the widely criticized (and also Koch funded) Tax Foundation to back your claims, and your simplistic charts do not actually link to the pages with data sources you cite. They merely cite them and it's up to us to trust that you've done all the math and cited your sources in context. I'm sorry, Dave, but I can't let you do that.

According to a Google search, the Tax Foundation's rankings for 2012 were as follows:

  1. Wyoming
  2. South Dakota
  3. Nevada
  4. Alaska
  5. Florida
  6. New Hampshire
  7. Washington
  8. Montana
  9. Texas
  10. Utah

Of those, we find many do indeed have natural resources, tourism, and other industries which can be taxed in lieue of a strict corporate tax. Texas, Alaska, South Dakota, Nevada, and Florida all come to mind. We also find that some of them shift tax burdens to federal sources: States receiving the most federal funding per tax dollar paid (source NYT): 1. New Mexico: $2.63 2. West Virginia: $2.57 3. Mississippi: $2.47 4. District of Colombia: $2.41 5. Hawaii: $2.38 6. Alabama: $2.03 7. Alaska: $1.93 8. Montana: $1.92 9. South Carolina: $1.92 10. Maine: $1.78

In fact, the only state on the list receiving less than $1.00 of federal money per $1.00 of tax income is Texas.

Some stats are misleadingly listed as "business tax friendly," when they've actually got fairly high taxes. Washington comes to mind.

Again, the world isn't made up of two variables.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 10 months ago

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once facetiously noted that most of the highest student achievement scores were in Northern states, which must mean that proximity to the Canadian border is the secret to higher scores. Having natural resources may impact the mix of taxes, but those states could still have a high tax burden if they spent more. The ability to have a low tax burden is driven by how much government spends. Federal aid is used to provide mandated federal services, not to cover the cost of state services and therefore has no impact on the state tax burden.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

You could have saved yourself a lot of typing by admitting that you really didn't have a good point when trying to correlate tax rates with business success.

nuts 5 years, 10 months ago

Take a look at this story that ran on (hardly a liberal rag) reporting on analysis of the economic impact of lowering or eliminating personal income taxes. Doesn't quite jive with your assertions, Dave. How do explain the discrepancy?

globehead 5 years, 10 months ago

And, we've had the lowest federal taxes in the last decade we've had in 60 years. So, economic growth is fine, right? Thank you for linking to the site to justify your claim. However, you may want to take a good hard look at the job figures out today. This economy should be roaring ahead with the current level of federal taxation.

Low taxes are fine, but not as an end in themselves. I'd prefer good government first. If that results in lower taxes then great. There's not much about this current governor that leads me to believe that is happening.

Also, in noticing the few states listed on your website as having lower tax burdens, Colorado, Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma, it strike me they also are blessed with a greater share of natural resources and/or tourism. Perhaps if we'd just get an ocean and a few mountains to throw into our mix we'd become more competitive. It would be wise to look at ALL the evidence, not just taxes.

Finally, one area this state has had to hang it's hat on is education and evidence in the Kansas City area has born this out for decades where Johnson County has repeatedly been one of the most desired places to live in no small part because of the Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley school districts. I wouldn't think it too wise to tamper with education too radically. It's a lot easier to protect something that works than to recreate it after it has been messed up.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

It's also been proven again and again that voucher systems do not equate higher achievement, nor do high stakes testing. Basically your job here, oh paid Koch-sponsored think tank, is to privatize public education through a campaign of confidence erosion and misdirection.

You'd be a valuable resource if your group weren't just used car salesmen for Koch ideas. Come on, what do you want your monthly payments to be? I can get you into this hear education system for $200 a month. It was previously owned by a little old lady from Texas, and look how well her 8th grade reading scores compare. Um, sure, I can go look up those other scores. I'll have to get back to you, since it appears they don't quite support my point. No that dent isn't an indication of massive corruption in the charter schools as implemented by most states. We've got that problem fixed, and I'll even throw in a free gratuitous reference to special needs and low income families...

nuts 5 years, 10 months ago

Dave, the same ACT college readiness measurement states that only 24% of Texas students and 23% of Colorado students are college ready in all four benchmarks. How does this support your point?

Paul R Getto 5 years, 10 months ago

Good move, SBOE. Ask for what is needed. If one thinks "money doesn't matter," just watch the wealthy as they ask for lower taxes and less regulation. Money does matter, and it appears the rich sincerely believe this. Vouchers and charters don't scare educators much. Vouchers and charters that are not equal-opportunity programs (aka the Kansas Constitution) are what they really want; boutique charters for their kids and few others. If the research on charter schools suggested they worked long-term for a diverse population, I'd feel better. Right now, I don't.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 10 months ago

Actually, the research on charters shows that they work quite well when state laws are properly written. The most comprehensive review of charter schools was conducted by the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University.

Their initial review of charter performance was rather middling...some better, some worse, a lot did about the same as traditional public schools. Then they looked at how state law impacted results and found that charters excelled in states that did not limit enrollment or the number of schools that could operate...that had rigorous application procedures instead of making it easy to open a charter...and allowed for a reasonable appeals process.

But giving parents more educational options, especially those who lack the means to move to a different neighborhood or pay private tuition, is only a part of the solution. A number of superintendents have told me they need tenure reform (but they hesitate to say so publicly for political reasons). They also say they need flexibility on deciding how to spend money instead of having so many restricted funds.

Other solutions that are being implemented by state officials around the country include reading initiatives that ensure a student can read at grade-level by the third grade before moving them into fourth grade, increasing accountability for students and schools, allowing students to take online learning courses outside their district if the district doesn't offer those courses and allowing alternative teacher certification programs (letting the local district decide who is qualified to teach instead of an arbitrary state law).

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

We already have well-regulated charters in this state.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 10 months ago

Now that is hoot! The only charters we have in Kansas are those operated by local school districts. State law prohibits charters unless the local district authorizes and supervises it, hence no competition.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

Indeed. If "competition" and "market reforms" were the solution to all educational woes, CREDO wouldn't have found that charters largely did the same or worse than public schools when comparing the same student demographic requiring you to cherry pick deeper into the data to find a better support for your rhetoric.

Other studies wouldn't have found that private and parochial schools largely do the same as public when comparing the same demographic. Even more so, since those private and parochials are competing for self-funded students. You'd find that higher educational for-profits would do the same or better for students instead of being some of the worst out there. You'd find that teachers would respond to cash bonuses with better student outcomes instead of performing the same.

In fact, none of those things are true, because "competition" isn't a motivating factor for quality education or quality educators.

So. I reiterate. We already have charter schools that are well regulated and accountable to the same standards as other public schools. We already give parents "options." If superintendents need more flexibility in how to spend funds, we can give them that without spending public funds on private entities.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 10 months ago

KASB deliberately leaves out important information in that piece. For example, they don't mention that being Proficient in Kansas does not require full comprehension of grade-appropriate material. Only about half of Kansas' juniors have full comprehension of grade-appropriate Reading and Math material according to KASB.

KASB does not disclose that only 28% of Kansas high school graduates scored high enough to be considered college-ready in English, Reading, Math and Science on the ACT College-Readiness Measurement.

KASB does not disclose that Kansas' rankings on NAEP are driven by demographics and not actual learning. Kansas has a relatively low population of minorities and fewer low-income kids than many states. Real apples-to-apples comparisons show that Kansas' scores are barely above average.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

You do like to pull out that old chestnut again and again. It means no such thing and you know it. You willfully misinterpret the standards to make them sound worse, and it's tiring. We don't want your used car, Dave. Go sell it to someone else.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 10 months ago

In other words, you cannot refute the validity of the data presented so you attack the messenger.

paulveer 5 years, 10 months ago

I you drop chicken poop here, I won't bother trying to refute it, but I might criticize you for doing it.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

I've refuted you countless times. It grows tiring. Go google it.

nuts 5 years, 10 months ago

If you analyze that 28% number you'll find that science is the area bringing our students down. The state has been de-emphasizing the teaching of science and social studies over the last decade in respons to NCLB. In English, Math, and Reading more than 50 percent of our students are deemed college ready. Furthermore, only 43% of Massachusetts(largely considered the best public ed. system in the U.S.) high school seniors are deemed college ready when all four ACT criteria are used to determine college readiness. Kansas beats most of the plains states in this readiness score and is significantly better than the state of Texas, whom our governor likes to compare us to.

globehead 5 years, 10 months ago

Yes indeed, of course science is bringing us down. We're hell bent on debunking evolution and global climate change. We should, however, be climbing rapidly in the mythology and bunk department. Don't even get me started on Texas. It really shouldn't even be consider it a state.

conservativejayhawk 5 years, 10 months ago

Thank you, Mr. Trabert, for actual arguments and not simply labeling and name-calling. How anyone who has had to wait in line at the Post Office or the DMV and still wants more government involvement in anything is beyond my ken.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

He's nothing but a wind-up shill who merely parrots the same well-worn lies that sheep like you fall for every time-- have really you never waited in line at a private business?

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

If you're waiting in line at the DMV, the solution is obviously to cut the DMV's funding. Duh. Cutting funding always makes things "efficient."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 10 months ago

Dave said this

"The most recent spending data shows that Kansas spent at least $1,200 per pupil MORE than those states. "

OK, Dave, tell us precisely where and how they spend $1200 less per pupil. If this spending can be decreased so easily, there must be some easily identifiable ways to do it (and charter schools/ privatization is not it. Give us real answers, Dave, not just more mumbo jumbo.)

(Do you get paid by the word on these forums?)

kugrad 5 years, 10 months ago

It is sad that we live in a society where not only has our state government been bought by special interest groups, but we can't even have a comment section on our local newspaper without a paid employee of the Koch Brothers' funded organization spewing propaganda and distortions.

Our schools in Lawrence are well above average, but you can't privatize schools, the ultimate goal of Mr. Trabert's employers, without convincing the public that our schools are failing. Since that hasn't worked so well, they favor cutting school funding until the schools fail.

Go away Mr. Trabert, this isn't a forum for paid political advertisement.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 10 months ago

kugrad: you said it! Can our schools get better? Of course. Will they get better in Koch's view for the world? No. Trabert's paid for views show exactly what's the matter with Kansas. Time for a revolution.

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