Archive for Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spending doesn’t equal achievement

March 28, 2012


Recent ads in Kansas newspapers have told the truth about the unacceptable level of reading and math scores for Kansas students. Yet, for the state education commissioner and education lobbyists to continue to deny these documented results from Kansas schools is a disservice to our students, their parents and taxpayers. This massive cover-up has gone on for years and needs to stop!

All outside indicators of how well our schools are doing show that the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates have been a major disaster and a tremendous waste of taxpayer money. Our students are not dumb, plus our teachers and school administrators are doing what they have been told. But, largely due to these bureaucratic regulations, most students who graduate from America’s schools have not been taught the employable skills needed to compete for jobs in the global economy.

This is not just a Kansas problem. Anyone willing to look at the facts can clearly see that major changes must take place in what and how we teach America’s children the concepts and skills they need to be productive adults. Yet, the federal and state education bureaucrats and their lobbyists keep claiming that there is nothing wrong with public education — just give them more money to spend.

Since the Montoy court decision in 2005, the Kansas Legislature has appropriated $1 billion more for schools. But for the past 10 years, NAEP, ACT and SAT test scores still show that only about one-third of our students are “proficient.” With this new money, Kansas school districts hired more than 6,000 new employees. And, since 2005, they had accumulated $868 million in unspent cash balances — an increase of 90 percent. Clearly, spending more tax dollars is not the answer to higher student achievement.

In Kansas and the nation, one in four students does not graduate. Of those who do graduate and go to college, more than 30 percent need remediation. Only half finish college, yet most end up with huge student loans to repay whether they earned a degree, can find a job or not.

A national commission has reported that 30 percent of high school graduates do not score high enough on aptitude tests to qualify to join the military. And, since the NCLB emphasis is only on teaching and testing reading and math, few students graduate with knowledge or skills for any other career.

Clearly, the NCLB mandates from federal bureaucrats are failing to prepare our students and putting our teachers in a “no win” position of “teaching to the test.” But, the majority of the state board has “rubber stamped” the commissioner’s request that Kansas schools comply with the new federal mandate to replace the Kansas standards with something new called the “common core standards.”

However, there is NO research to show that these CCS will improve student achievement or that they are more relevant to what students need to learn. Yet, like NCLB, they will force teachers in every school to focus primarily on just reading and math so students can pass computerized national tests, which will replace the state assessments. As a result, there will be less time to teach all other subjects such as science, technology and careers.

The CCS are an unfunded federal mandate that will cost Kansas taxpayers millions of dollars to implement. These “new” standards were written by unknown, unelected and unaccountable academics who have close ties to private publishing companies that will make billions of dollars of profits at the expense of taxpayers, students and teachers. As a result, no Kansas elected official will be allowed to make key decisions about what and how students are taught in any K-12 school.

The Kansas Legislature and local school boards need to be strong and say “enough of this nonsense.” NCLB has not worked and the CCS will be more of the same — but worse.

Our students and nation are at risk of losing much of what previous generations have worked hard to achieve. Let’s put an end to the federal NCLB and CCS in Kansas schools, and let our teachers teach the employable skills our students need to earn a living wage and keep America strong.

Walt Chappell of Wichita is a member of the Kansas State Board of Education.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"Clearly, spending more tax dollars is not the answer to higher student achievement."

So are you saying that spending less will create that answer?

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

There are many variables that will determine whether or not a child does well in school. Government, through the school system can control some of those variables. But many other cannot be controlled by government policy, which usually translates into spending. Until you can control for all the variables, which in this case, you never will be able to, then you will never know if an increase/decrease in spending is what is causing whatever outcome occurs.
I'm almost always opposed to throwing money at a problem, hoping that will solve it. Education is my exception. We need a longer school year. We need higher expectations from teachers in the form of more advanced degrees and more continuing education. And then we need to pay for them and treat them as we would the true professionals they are.

Kathy Theis-Getto 6 years ago

Dear Mr. Chappell:

Perspectives on Equity 1.Human beings are born without prejudice. All forms of bias, from extreme bigotry to unaware cultural biases, are acquired - actually imposed on the young person. 2.We are all one species. There is no scientific justification for the notion of race or for claiming the superiority or inferiority of different groups. 3.Many of the assumptions, values, and practices of people and institutions from dominant groups in the society serve to the disadvantage of students from the non-dominant groups. 4.Individual prejudice and institutionalized biases are dysfunctional for individuals, their relationships, and to society as a whole. 5.Systematic mistreatment (such as racism, classism, or sexism) is more than the sum of individual prejudices. 6.Educators are an important force in helping many people overcome the effects of societal bias and discrimination but schools also serve to perpetuate the inequalities and prejudices in the society. Thoughtful action with regard to curriculum, pedagogy and school policies and organization is necessary to overcome the effects on people and institutions of a long history of prejudice and discrimination. 7.Individuals and groups internalize and transfer the systematic mistreatment. They often act harmfully toward themselves and other members of their group. This process must be identified and eliminated. 8.Racism, classism, and sexism and other forms of bias are serious issues facing U.S. society and education that are usually not discussed. Talking about them is necessary, not to lay blame, but to figure out better ways of raising our children and educating our students. 9.Diverse leadership is absolutely necessary for achieving educational equity. Lack of acceptance, recognition, and support is an impediment to the development of educational leadership among people of color, women and the working class. 10.To make progress on this very complex problem, it will be necessary to improve alliances between people from different backgrounds, experiences, and identities. 11.Discussing and gaining new understandings about the existence and effects of bias and discrimination will usually be accompanied by strong emotions. 12.Attitudes and actions will change if we are listened to attentively and allowed to release our emotions as we work to make sense of our experiences and the experiences of others.

Paul R Getto 6 years ago

My, my, Ms. Getto. What an interesting perspective. Mr. Chappell has his own agenda that he promotes outside of State Board of Education meetings. I always find it amusing when people argue 'money doesn't matter.' When the CEO's on Wall Street and in Detroit start carrying this water, and it spreads to the military and other large organizations I'll feel better about accepting this line of argument. If money makes no difference, the 'rich' schools with the easy-to-teach students would be falling all over themselves to give their 'extra' money to the inner cities so they could work on students with more challenges. Best way to have a good life? Pick the right parents when you get your vote. The best way for a teacher to get good test scores? Teach in a mainly majority school with active parents, students who want to learn (even if they are just scared of their parents' disapproval) and a budget that allows for good facilities, good salaries and an instructional and technology budget that will meet local needs.

Dawn Shew 6 years ago

Today's tax-supported funding per pupil is roughly the same as the rate in 1998. Ask yourself: does housing cost more or less than in 1998? Gas? Clothing? Technology? A gallon of milk?


What does more money buy? It buys teachers who are willing to stay in the state because they are being paid competitively. It means teachers can afford to live in the town in which they work. It buys programs to bring struggling students up, and achieving students farther. It buys social workers to notice the student who is struggling at home, or who may have undiagnosed issues prohibiting them from their full potential. It buys full time schools nurses, so that teachers can spend time with students, instead of dealing with medical issues for which they are not trained. It buys up-to-date technology, books, and facilities that support learning. More money for more teachers means smaller class sizes, which translates to more one-on-one time-- less students slipping through the cracks-- which can translate to less drop-outs.

For communities that do not have the tax base to supplement the cost-per-pupil through local initiatives, state education dollars mean a fair shake at an equitable education.

While state funding HAS increased since Montoy, the amount-per-pupil received is almost $500 dollars less per pupil than that court mandate. For Lawrence schools, this equates to over $5 million dollars that is currently not being spent on initiatives that could help our students.

NCLB is a flawed system, and there is little argument that changes need to be made. However, we fail our students by under-funding their education. By failing those students, we fail to invest in the long-term success of Kansas.

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