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Archive for Monday, June 11, 2012

Expert testifies in school finance case

June 11, 2012

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TOPEKA — The second week of a trial over the way Kansas funds public schools opened Monday with testimony from a Rutgers University expert who said a “suitable education” involves more than just proficiency in math and reading.

Bruce Baker, formerly of Kansas University, said students also need to have the skills to succeed in higher education or in the labor force and classrooms must be properly equipped to teach them. For example, he said, technology isn’t necessary just for college-bound students but for those who will pursue farming careers.

“There’s a lot more stuff going into the physical space” where students are taught, he said. “The complexity of what goes into the physical space isn’t what it used to be.”

Baker was the first witness called Monday by lawyers for school districts suing the state in Shawnee County District Court. The districts contend they get don’t enough money to satisfy the state constitution’s mandate for providing a “suitable education.”

Lawyers for the state, meanwhile, say lawmakers did the best they could to fund schools as revenues declined during the Great Recession.

A panel of three judges has been hearing arguments and will decide whether the state is providing enough money for schools to provide the “suitable education” required by the state constitution.

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