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Archive for Saturday, June 2, 2012

Koch influence present in school lawsuit

Judges to hear financing case this week

June 2, 2012

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— Koch-funded groups recently helped push through historic tax cuts in Kansas. This week, they will battle against public schools seeking more funding.

Fifty-four school districts are taking the state to court to try to recover funding that was cut by state officials during the recession.

The trial, which starts Monday before a three-judge panel in the Shawnee County Courthouse, could take a month.

The school districts have argued that the state has underfunded schools by more than $1 billion.

The state of Kansas has hired three people to argue against that assertion and provide information to the court in the lawsuit.

One of those is Art Hall, executive director of the Center for Applied Economics at the Kansas University School of Business. Hall has submitted a written report to the court on what he says are the adverse economic consequences of providing an additional $1.2 billion in funding to public schools.

In Hall's report to the court, he said that the Legislature could reduce state government spending in many different ways to save $1.2 billion and allocate that to schools. One way, he said, would be an across-the-board cut of 38 percent.

In his report, Hall said that Medicaid spending, proper funding of the state pension system, and implementation of federal health reform will "force state lawmakers to confront structural deficits." And if taxes were increased to provide the $1.2 billion, it would result in the loss of $9.3 billion in gross domestic product over 10 years, he wrote.

Hall was chief economist of the public-sector group at Koch Industries Inc. in Wichita from 1997-2004.

The Center for Applied Economics is a research center funded by contributions from the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation and other private donors, according to KU. It was established in 2003 with support from the Koch Professorship in Business and Economics and the Koch Foundation.

Hall also has provided economic advice to Gov. Sam Brownback, who last month signed major tax cuts. Brownback has said the reduction in personal income tax rates and elimination of taxes on non-wage income for 191,000 business owners will provide an economic boon and increase jobs.

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, were vocal proponents of cutting taxes during the legislative session, and leaders of those organizations stood behind Brownback when he signed the bill into law during a ceremony in the Statehouse.

Koch Industries is a large contributor to the Kansas Chamber’s political action committee, and the Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, founded AFP and a number of organizations that focus on public policies.

But critics of the tax cuts say the resulting reduction in revenue will force cuts in state spending and shift the tax burden more onto low-income Kansans. A legislative staff calculation says the cuts could produce a budget deficit in the $2.5 billion range within six years.

In the lawsuit, the state has also hired Eric Hanushek, who is with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Hanushek has provided information in the case that says there is lack of a scientific basis to draw a specific link to spending levels and student performance, and to “cost out” an adequate education.

Michael Podgursky, an economics professor at the University of Missouri, has also been hired by the state. He says that data show “no systematic or stable positive statistical relationship between spending per student in a district and student achievement.”

Their arguments are contrary to those that will be presented by the plaintiff school districts, which represent about 150,000 students, or one-third of the public school students in Kansas. The Lawrence school district has not joined the Schools for Fair Funding group.

The schools allege that the state has violated the Kansas Constitution by not adequately funding public schools. Under orders from the Kansas Supreme Court, the state in 2006 approved a three-year plan to increase funding and distribute those dollars more equitably. But before the plan could be implemented, the state started making cuts to classrooms as revenues tanked during the recession.

Meanwhile, the tax cuts, they argue, are undercutting the state’s ability to make the necessary funding to schools.

Comments

mikekt 1 year, 10 months ago

AFP might as well mean Americans For Poverty........that trickles down for the poor........... but not up to the rich.!!!!!. ALEC ought to be preceded by the word "SMART-ALEC" as they operate to the same ends. Poor koch brothers! They're only worth $25,000,000,000 ( 25,000 x 1million dollars or 25 Billion ) but they are embarrassed because Gates & Buffet are richer than them. HA,HA,Ha!!!!

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 10 months ago

Have you contemplated plywood today?

"..Plywood is a manufactured wood panel made from thin sheets of wood veneer. It is one of the most widely used wood products. It is flexible, inexpensive, workable, re-usable, and can usually be locally manufactured. Plywood is used instead of plain wood because of its resistance to cracking, shrinkage, splitting, and twisting/warping, and its general high degree of strength.

Plywood layers (called veneers) are glued together with adjacent plies having their grain at right angles to each other. Cross-graining has several important benefits: it reduces the tendency of wood to split when nailed at the edges, it reduces expansion and shrinkage equating to improved dimensional stability, and it makes the strength of the panel consistent across both directions. There are usually an odd number of plies so that the sheet is balanced—this reduces warping. Because of the way plywood is bonded (with grains running against one another and with an odd number of composite parts) it is very hard to bend it perpendicular to the grain direction...." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plywood

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

How ALEC, the Koch brothers, (SAM BROWNBACK ) their corporate allies plan to privatize government(WITH YOUR TAX DOLLARS).

ALEC nuts and bolts

ALEC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that in recent years has reported about $6.5 million in annual revenue. ALEC’s members include corporations, trade associations, think tanks and nearly a third (about 2,000) of the nation’s state legislators (virtually all Republican). According to the group’s promotional material, ALEC’s mission is to “advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public.”

What beautiful words that in essence = PROFITEERS STEALING OUR TAX DOLLARS TO INCREASE THEIR WEALTH says Merrill

ALEC currently claims more than 250 corporations and special interest groups as private sector members. While the organization refuses to make a complete list of these private members available to the public, some known members include:

  • Wal-Mart
  • Exxon Mobil
  • the Corrections Corporation of America
  • AT&T
  • Pfizer Pharmaceuticals
  • Time Warner Cable
  • Comcast
  • Verizon
  • Phillip Morris International
  • Koch Industries
  • along with a host of right-wing think tanks and foundations.

ALEC is composed of nine task forces–(1) Public Safety and Elections, (2) Civil Justice, (3) Education, (4) Energy, Environment and Agriculture, (5) Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development, (6) Telecommunications and Information Technology, (7) Health and Human Services, (8) Tax and Fiscal Policy and (9) International Relations–each comprised of “Public Sector” members (legislators) and “Private Sector” members (corporations and interest groups).

Each of these task forces, which serve as the core of ALEC’s operations, generate model legislation that is then passed on to member lawmakers for introduction in their home assemblies. According to ALEC promotional material, each year member lawmakers introduce an average of 1,000 of these pieces of legislation nationwide, 17 percent of which are enacted. For 2009, ALEC claimed a total of 826 pieces of introduced legislation nationwide, 115 of which were passed into law–slightly below the average at 14 percent. ALEC does not offer its model legislation for public inspection.

ALEC refused to comment on any aspect of the material covered here.

More and more: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/11603/publicopoly_exposed/

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

Koch thinkers see one thing...... high dollar private schools back with trillions in tax dollars. Those tax dollars go into their private accounts.

Then they spend those dollars on expensive CEO's,shareholders,golden parachutes and special interest campaign donations = what a waste of tax dollars.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 10 months ago

One more shot. Why am I poorly taught or not moderate because I do not agree with your perception that the courts are superior to the legislature - I.E. can order it to tax us.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 10 months ago

Sorry guys but I hope you never meet a real conservative - he/she will scare the pants off you.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 10 months ago

"Moderate" sure doesn't sound very moderate.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 10 months ago

Absolutely correct. The problem is exactly that. The courts can not order the legislature to do anything. It can find that the "suitable" measure is not met in the opinion of the court. It can enforce no remedy unless the legislature lets it.

I remind you of Lincoln and the USSC. The court ordered him to free Maryland legislators and he simply refused. I believe the quote provided was that the court has issued an order, let the court enforce it

Don't let your ideology get in the way of your brain. My issue is not the adequacy of funding but the process being used to deal with it.

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jafs 1 year, 10 months ago

The above comment ignores the fact that the judiciary is a check and balance on the legislature, and that the KS constitution includes the obligation to provide funding for education.

Once the legislature determined the "suitable" level of funding, they then were obliged to provide it, which they failed to do.

The judiciary acted correctly, and ordered them to fulfill their constitutional responsibility, and fund the system according to their own studies on the matter.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 10 months ago

I don’t know about anybody else but I have problems with an unelected group of elite citizens determining how much tax I should pay for a specific public service. I was taught that in maters of finance that decision rested with the elected legislature. If the people did not like what it did they could replace it.

Therefore I have no problem with Mr. Kock fighting this legal action. If I had his money I would fight it too. If any of you do not like what the legislature is doing vote to replace it. If it turns out that a majority of voting Kansans do not agree with you then try to convince them of your views.

The issue of how much is enough money for any public service is a matter for the people and not unelected lawyers reading all sorts of things into our constitution that were never before considered part of that constitution.

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jayhawklawrence 1 year, 10 months ago

I feel like this state has been taken over by a gang of right wing bullies.

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FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 10 months ago

What do 'we' have so far with the 'investment' of money in union schools?

50% of the student grads do not pay federal taxes. No "skin in the game".

Using Carter years unemployment ciphering models the "investment" annotates 22% 'current' unemployment rates.

Throwing 'good' money after 'bad' does not make Johnny and Carol employable.

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jayhawklawrence 1 year, 10 months ago

I don't buy your argument. Having to go to Haskell for sporting events was a terrible situation.

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1 year, 10 months ago

@ jafs re: your 0715 4 Jun: "When the local school board passed a bond for "capital improvements" which I voted for, and then spent about $2 million of that on new sports fields, I became a bit cynical."

I became a lot cynical. In fact, I don't plan to vote for the next bond because I truly feel USD 497 ran a bait-n-switch. In fact even the teachers were hit with the same thing. LHS teachers were told to conserve paper and that there was no money for repair parts and tools, yet all of the sudden USD 497 pulled "identical, competing fields" out of their hat.

@all Read the article again. You'll notice that none of the The Guv's (incorrectly reported as Kansas and should correctly be reported as Koch) experts are educators. They understand, as do the KPI and AFP, only the cost-benefit or "best bang for the buck" rationale when talking about education.

The experts, The Guv, the KPI and AFP can't and won't take into consideration: Anything outside of the school that affects student performance; Parental emphasis on sports vice academics (you can't fail Little Johnny because then he can't play football in 7th Grade, and he won't become a professional football player); Placing ALL blame on teachers for student performance rather than parents assuming the greater part of the blame (Little Johnny failed because he didn't do his homework. Parent responsibility, but they shift the blame to teachers); Cutting taxes as KPI and AFP (read as Koch) both want so there's less money for schools, then blaming the schools for not managing their funds well enough; Social promotion; and the list goes on and on. (The above are the norm rather than the exception and cannot be measured on a cost-benefit analysis.)

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JoYo 1 year, 10 months ago

My statistics is a bit rusty, but on the face of it Michael Podgursky's statement, while perhaps true, isn't very pertinent. One wouldn't use a systematic sampling among public school students across a district because they aren't a homogenous population. The differences between a high school senior and a kindergartner, for instance, are huge so randomly sampling student performance across this population cannot be systematic in the stats sense. So, yes there is “no systematic...relationship" because one wouldn't use a systematic sampling. And, as for "stable" - it begs the question of what he means by "stable". Since when have any of the variables in public education been stable such that they could be statistically analyzed as such? I would guess, never - not even year to year in the same district. So again a "stable positive statistical relationship" doesn't exist because that's the wrong approach. The right approach defines then tests if better teachers lead to better performance, or if better facilities, better tools, better curriculum, greater parent involvement, etc. lead to better performance at each educational stage. My guess is that those things do, probably in different ways over time and place, and that they cost money.

For a very interesting statistics lesson that just happens to use $/student vs. performance/student data as its topic, look here:

http://www.amstat.org/publications/jse/secure/v7n2/datasets.guber.cfm

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optimist 1 year, 10 months ago

Has anyone asked the question: what will the additional funds be spent on? I would like each school district to detail in a budget how each and every penny is spent and more importantly how the children will benefit. Will any administrator commit to improvement and stake their jobs on it? How about teachers? As a tax payer if I were presented with this sort of information I would definitely be an easier sell.

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jayhawklawrence 1 year, 10 months ago

By their ideology they will be judged and the America they are promoting will offer far less opportunity to those who are not fortunate enough to be born into wealth and power.

Sadly, those on the Christian right do not seem to be alarmed by these people. They are embracing them.

How often have we seen religious leaders embrace the rich and powerful at the expense of ordinary citizens?

What is the big issue of the last 3 years? Whether people who are too poor to get medical care will have that right.

The Theo-Political ideology that is promoting this new right wing movement threatens all Americans and has frozen our political process at a time when we are facing new challenges that we have not seen before because of the changing global economy and the rapidly growing problem of declining resources and environmental stress to our planet.

These people are absolutely on the wrong side of history.

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Michael LoBurgio 1 year, 10 months ago

Want to See How the Kochs Are Ending Public Education?

Koch brothers have more than $42 billion to make public policy out of their anti-government ideology, and their assault against public education epitomizes their tactics to remake our nation.

The Koch brothers founded Americans for Prosperity and have contributed more than $5 million to its political coffers. Americans for Prosperity, in turn, contributed to organizations that financially influenced a community school board election.

That's right: the Koch brothers are involving themselves, through their wealth-backed political apparatus, in local schools.

Americans for Prosperity allied with groups in North Carolina with the sole purpose of building a new majority on the school board in and around Raleigh. The Koch apparatus was trying to rewrite the social contract that made the Wake County school system a magnet for teachers and families and the surrounding communities prosper.

The Koch brothers and outside influence provided the script for the Koch-supported candidates. They campaigned to end "forced busing" and promise to enact a "neighborhood schools" mandate.

Do those phrases ring a bell? Using the same language Gov. George Wallace used in the 60s, Koch-supported candidates in North Carolina are pushing to make public policy based on Wallace's "segregation always" pledge. And they had the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity's full support.

This is a new example of the Koch brothers' so-called extreme free market ideology. It's an incredible window into the brothers' disdain for public service and government protection in general.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-greenwald/want-to-see-how-the-kochs_b_926829.html

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jww29 1 year, 10 months ago

Time to privatize the schools.

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FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 10 months ago

as 'if' money is 'all' it takes for the children to get educated.

If the union doesn't get money the children will 'suffer'.

Sounds like a 'threat' to me. Holding children 'hostage' for a union 'paper chase' is laughable at best.

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mikekt 1 year, 10 months ago

Does anyone expect kindness or any human traits, from the Koch Brats ?! Wrong !!! These are the "Brat Czars" of Americas Self Serving Business Community who are seen as "Bigger-Than-God" to their "economic-hanger-on-groupies". Most folks, to them, are just industrialized peasants to be used, abused and discarded at their convenience ! Maybe we should take up a fund and buy "The Koch Brats" some Rotten Faberge Eggs, for their next Easter Egg Hunt ! Being the "Brat-Royal-Pains" that they are, in everybody elses' lives, it would only be fitting to furnish them with the kind of Easter presents, befitting of their "Brat Czar Tyrant" behaviors ! Their libertarian business nonsense, has been what led the investment bankers to self destruct in the default swaps trading that was unregulated & the government to end up in the bail out business. How long will they insist that the "Emperor Is Clothed" and that businesses magically regulate themselves and always hold the public harmless when they screw up on purpose? Maybe the whole school funding thing is just a diversionary act to distract the public from their real interests elsewhere ( like getting rid of their own tax burdens, etc.. ) or maybe "The Brats" just hate the general public and wish them ill?

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camper 1 year, 10 months ago

Armstrong, you sound like you have a bone to pick with liberals and college towns. Do you have a bias? Actually Lawrence is diversified. You would be surprised.

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Jayhawk1958 1 year, 10 months ago

The only way you can balance the budget according to KOch-AFP etc.. is to cut education so in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

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JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 10 months ago

if you think Lawrence is a backwater college town why bother reading the LJW? Why post on this blog? Do you even live here? Your comment makes me think not. Btw, I have a real job and it's not at KU. I stand by my comment that you are a sheep.

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bobberboy 1 year, 10 months ago

People had better wake up about the Kochs !!

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JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 10 months ago

The Koch brothers are like kids playing the monopoly board game...they think the only way to win is if they end up with all the money and everyone else goes bankrupt. Like with the board game, the fun ends as nobody will have money to buy their products. How much is enough? They just bankrupted the state of Kansas. Now they're hell bent on bankrupting public schools. Jees.

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pace 1 year, 10 months ago

Shifting the tax burden to lower income populations. Again. Brownback should resign.

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ThePilgrim 1 year, 10 months ago

I find it hard to believe that KU would hire Art Hall as executive director of the Center for Applied Economics at the Kansas University School of Business unless his history at Koch wasn't much of an issue. Or Lawrence and KU are losing their luster as the "conscience of Kansas".

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 10 months ago

Has something happened to merrill? Generally he's copy/pasting like a fiend on any thread that uses "Koch" in the headline.

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Melinda Black 1 year, 10 months ago

The agenda is very transparent. People like the Kochs intend to gut the public school system of all resources. This then allows them to make a case that public education is broken.

Breaking public schools opens up the door for school vouchers. These people are eager to get a subsidy to pay for their children's expensive private school tuition.

I'm not surprised by this at all.

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oldexbeat 1 year, 10 months ago

forgot that part -- want more home schooled kids for the fundementalists -- so make public school really bad for the city kids, etc.

That is part of this for sure.

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davey 1 year, 10 months ago

The conservative State legislature has repeatedly said that schools should only focus on academics and not fund the 'fluff' such as athletics. The conservative assertion is that money should only go to academics. Every school district in Kansas should stop funding athletics and any other 'fluff'. No football, basketball, debate, student council, volleyball, baseball, track, etc. etc. When this happens constituents and parents will THEN be banging on their legislators door demanding additional funding for what the 'conservatives' label as 'fluff' and unnecessary. Additionally, the major college stream of talent will be severely interrupted and then even bigger dollars become affected when TV contracts and major college athletics begin to suffer.

I hope the courts do the right thing and make the legislature fund schools. But if they don't schools should do exactly what the legislature has instructed them to do. Cut EVERYTHING that is 'extra-curricular'.

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pittstatebb 1 year, 10 months ago

I don't understand the viewpoint that student achievement has not increased since the Montoy decision. There is only one assessment tool that is given yearly to almost every Kansas student in grades 3-8 and once in high school. That is their state assessment. These scores have shown an increase over this same time period at the high school level.

You can find the statewide results for English and math here:

http://online.ksde.org/rcard/state_assess.aspx?assess_type=1&org_no=%&grade=11&subgroup=1

http://online.ksde.org/rcard/state_assess.aspx?assess_type=2&org_no=%&grade=11&subgroup=1

Dave, what assessment tool is being referred to when saying student achievement has not increased?

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Bob_Keeshan 1 year, 10 months ago

In 2010, Mr. Hall made the same arguments about massive job losses should the sales tax be increased.

The sales tax was increased on July 1, 2010. I wonder if Mr. Hall has analyzed the job gains or losses in Kansas since then.

If he has, then he has found that his prediction, which was a loss of over 20,000 jobs, was off by over 40,000 jobs since the state has gained over 20,000 jobs since raising taxes.

Sort of renders Mr. Hall's "expert opinion" moot, don't you think? Art Hall is the master of making predictions based upon his models, not upon actual past performance. In Kansas, we just raised taxes and the result has been private sector job growth and state GDP growth.

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oldexbeat 1 year, 10 months ago

Let us review the 'experts' from big state funded Un of Kansas, Un of Missouri, and private, but hugely supported by federal research grants, Stanford. Duh. I say that if Stanford didn't charge 32,000 dollars per semester, the quality would not go down. Right ? Duh.

And what is Hall talkling about in his "structural deficits" statement ? Made up numbers, for sure -- ie., if you spend tax money now for students (and he doesn't count that money as productive use, I guess) , then you take money that the Koch Brothers could spend on something else, like art for their apartments, and that will hurt us somehow in years...

Dumb. KU, Fire that guy. You've got an idiot running the class.

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Mike1949 1 year, 10 months ago

Well, when the buses stops running, kids parents can't afford the pre-school fees (the students can't start school with out those fees) which is 300 times the amount from just a few years ago. No wonder people are home schooling more and more every year. There are a lot of disadvantages to home schooling. Now social inter action which effects the kids into adult hood! I even know some families which can't afford public school, and how they work it out as far as fees is beyond the information that I have. I guess they pay over the whole school year is the only thing I can figure. I do know a lot of families that get reduced rates based on their income. Some of them may be pretty low because here in this college town, employers don't pay very well because they can just get a college student to work part time. That is what it is like in the town, nothing but part time jobs so they don't have to pay insurance, etc. But back to the subject, schools are hurting as I see it because buses break down and don't get fixed.

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Mike Ford 1 year, 10 months ago

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

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Liberty_One 1 year, 10 months ago

Education funding is newspeak for teacher funding.

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Lawrence Morgan 1 year, 10 months ago

What fantastic reporting. Keep it up, Journal-World.

Why hasn't Lawrence schools joined the Schools for Fair Funding group?

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tange 1 year, 10 months ago

Has a systematic or stable positive statistical relationship between the concentration of wealth into the hands of the few—at the expense of the many—and cultural enhancement been demonstrated?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 10 months ago

Michael Podgursky, an economics professor at the University of Missouri, has also been hired by the state. He says that data show “no systematic or stable positive statistical relationship between spending per student in a district and student achievement.”

What an idiot. By that logic, no program of any sort, private or public, needs any money at all for anything.

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James Nelson 1 year, 10 months ago

Bring it on schools. It is time for the greedy and selfish to go down.

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