Archive for Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brownback says little chance of funding increase to higher ed

November 15, 2012


TOPEKA — With state revenue shortfalls looming, Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday said there was little chance of an overall spending increase for higher education.

But in a talk with the Kansas Board of Regents, Brownback said the possibility existed to provide additional dollars for specific projects at the schools.

“I really don’t think the time is appropriate with the Legislature or with me to ask for base funding” increases, Brownback said.

Brownback, however, said he and the Legislature are focused on trying to target funding for specific projects or programs, such as technical education.

Regents Chairman Tim Emert said Brownback has delivered that message before and the board has adjusted its “ask” downward.

“We’ve kind of reached the point that we just hope that we can hold our own and keep funding where it is in this very difficult economic time,” Emert said.

In September, the board sent Brownback a recommended $47.1 million in additional funding, which would be an increase of about 6.2 percent.

Brownback will work on a state budget later this month to present to the Legislature when the 2013 session starts in January.

Brownback’s administration has told state agencies to prepare for tight budgets and has directed them to include a 10 percent cut in their spending requests for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

And the most recent revenue estimates show the state faces a $327 million revenue shortfall, mostly because of tax cuts Brownback signed into law.

The state is decreasing its individual income tax rates for 2013, with the top rate dropping to 4.9 percent from 6.45 percent. Also, the state will exempt the owners of 191,000 partnerships, sole proprietorships and other businesses from income taxes.

Included in the proposed $47.1 million increase in higher education funding is $2.8 million to improve the Wichita campus of the Kansas University School of Medicine, and $1 million as part of a proposed $30 million in state funds to pay for a new health education building at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Also part of the higher ed wish list is a 1 percent pay increase for the 18,000 employees working on university campuses.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said Brownback made it clear that any increase in the base funding for higher education was probably not going to happen.

But Gray-Little said she was encouraged Brownback reiterated his belief in the importance of higher education and “the value and ability of higher education to make a contribution, specifically to job creation, training highly skilled workers, and providing the intellectual energy for the kinds of things that need to happen here in Kansas.”

In his comments, Brownback also said he sees opportunities for the state to benefit from the federal government’s fiscal problems.

With the federal government’s lack of resources, Brownback said, the state is negotiating with the feds on Kansas taking a more active role in securing ownership in intellectual properties that spin off the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan.

He also said the state is negotiating to purchase water storage in federal reservoirs. And he said the state should also investigate whether it could offer to take over some of the prison and military training services at Fort Leavenworth.

“The feds are in a negotiating mood. They need to be because they are out of money,” he said.

Asked later where the state, which is projected to see tax revenues drop sharply because of the tax cuts, would come up with the money to do this, Brownback said, “You got to prioritize.”

He also said Kansas should become the intellectual center to develop policies to combat human trafficking.

And he called on higher education institutions to produce more entrepreneurs.

“We don’t have enough startups in Kansas,” he said. “We are toying with the idea of how can you pay the system to encourage more startups.”


Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

Sam Brownback has never intended to fund school schools appropriately from day one. He makes misleading statements always.

Neither WOMEN nor Republicans nor Democrats nor the Upper Middle Class/Middle class can afford the Republican/RINO Party!

Vouchers are a money laundering tool that funnels public school tax dollars to corporate bank accounts. Public Education is a strong player in new Economic Growth yet republicans starve the system of funding which starves our teachers of resources. Which starves the desired level of education = stealing from our children’s future.

Republicans want to kill the public education institution Republicans are out of touch going on 33 years.

gr 5 years, 7 months ago

merrill, I understand that most schools don't even use 65% of state money for classroom education. If you are saying that the money the state gives the schools are very small, then that makes it even worse! Would it be to much to ask for even 65% of hardly anything to be spent on educating the kids?

If schools aren't even going to use 65% of the money from the state for educating kids, then why should they get even more? That would only make the percentage go down even further. If schools aren't even accountable for what the receive, they have no right to ask for more. From the state or local options.

Better find out where they are spending the money and ask why it isn't being used for classroom education.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 7 months ago

BS. More creative accounting from the destroyers. The 65% "solution" is bogus. Whrn you count all the real classroom supports, schools put their money where it counts. Teachers already get 50% of the GF. Budget, as they should.

gr 5 years, 7 months ago

Ok, let's see some facts. When I go to a local school asking about where money is being spent, they only give me a general thing that says things like "elementry", "highschool". When I ask for more detail where the money is actually being spent, there seems to me to be a hiding an evasion. And then some comments about if they cut "programs", students may leave for another school.

Maybe you could present some facts showing that indeed 65% is being spent for classroom education. 50% of money being spent on teachers is a start. But you need to separate from those teachers of what is taught in the classroom (Writing, Reading, Arithmetic, etc.) and that which is not.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

Vouchers in Milwaukee


Milwaukee’s program has long been a model for other cities and state programs, from Cleveland, to New Orleans, Florida, and Indiana. Beginning in 1990 with 300 students in seven non-sectarian schools, by 2012 vouchers had expanded to almost 23,000 students in more than 100 private schools, most of them religious-based. In size, the voucher program now rivals Wisconsin’s largest school districts, but with minimal public accountability or oversight.

For more than twenty years, supporters of vouchers for private schools have had a chance to prove their assertion that the marketplace and parental choice are the bedrocks of educational success, that unions and government bureaucracy are the enemies of reform, and that vouchers will lead to increased academic achievement.

After two decades and more than $1.27 billion in public funding, however, the Milwaukee voucher program’s enticing promises have not materialized.

The first apples-to-apples comparison between Milwaukee’s private voucher and public schools wasn’t until 2010, a testament to how difficult it is to demand public transparency from private schools. State test results showed that students in private voucher schools performed significantly worse in math and about the same in reading as their public school counterparts. Recent results have been similar.

Nor has Milwaukee’s voucher program met the promise of increased parental satisfaction. A longitudinal study on achievement, in its final report, noted that only17.5 percent of the voucher students remained in a voucher school after five years. The comparable figure for the public schools was 43.5 percent.

Fundamentally, however, the issue of school vouchers goes beyond education achievement and parent preference. Above all, vouchers are an abandonment of this country’s commitment to public schools—a commitment rooted in an understanding that strong democratic institutions require a citizenry educated not just in the three Rs but also in their civic responsibilities.

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.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

If vouchers in Milwaukee are the cause of severe problems, one would expect those problems would be sharply reduced where vouchers aren't allowed. Is that the case?

I doubt it. I'm not at all in favor of vouchers. Vouchers are like the last two people on the Titanic fighting for a life preserver. It doesn't matter, you're going to freeze to death when you hit the water anyway. Have the voucher or not, the public school system is in need of a serious overhaul, top to bottom, inside and out.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago


Hold the presses - another issue you actually think should be improved?

What's your suggestion?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

Only people who are competent to be parents should have children. (I will define competent, upon request). :-)

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

Good idea.


Also, doesn't really qualify as an overhaul of the public school system, but I like the way you're thinking :-)

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

Slightly more serious though, my comment highlights the fact that some children entering kindergarden are coming from some very difficult situations. Schools may never be able to fix what has already been broken. It's great that they try, and we should all give our support. But there are some things that are just beyond their control. These things are beyond the control of any civilized society that grants people the freedom to live their own lives, even if those choices are bad ones. Freedom and failure seem to go hand in hand.

Enforcement, you ask. I've said it before, elect me King of the Universe and I will fix all the problems. Until then, I don't really know the answers. But I do see the problems.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

Yes, that's why I like it.

But, wait, I thought this was an issue that you see as needing improvements? So, given your view, what would help do that?

First you say the school system needs an overhaul, then when asked, you point to the problems of bad parenting.

Does the system need an overhaul? If so, in what way? If bad parenting is a problem that you think needs to be improved, what's your suggestion?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

I can't solve the problem of bad parenting. No one can. The simple truth is that people who are in no position to be good parents are becoming parents anyway. They're doing it in far greater numbers than those who are able to be good parents. Forced sterilization would solve the problem, but as I've said many times, that would be a medicine worse than the disease. So schools inherit that problem.

Maybe one of the biggest problems with schools is that they actually believe they can fix the problem. That would be like Obama (or any President) saying he will bring full employment and world peace. He can try, but he will fail. That he's trying is great. We should support those efforts. But he will fail.

The system needs an overhaul, yes. I'm not an expert in the field, but what they've done hasn't worked well and neither has what politicians have done (NCLB). In my opinion, though, while mainstreaming slower students might provide some benefit for them, it holds back others. I wouldn't do that. I'm not in favor of vouchers and I am in favor of increased spending in schools. I think we need year round (or nearly) schools. We need to pay teachers as the true professionals they are but in return, they need to show a level of competency required of true professionals. And I'm open to suggestions.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

So, no suggestions at all for improving what you see as the fundamental cause of the problem?

I know of little evidence that schools think they can fix the problem of bad parenting - opponents of funding public education often seem to think that, and blame them for not doing it.

So, no mainstreaming, more spending, and "professionalism" in the teaching profession are your ideas?

Given that you yourself have pointed out the importance of parenting, and the effect on students' performance, how exactly would you measure teacher performance in a reasonable way?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

I recall when living in California that there was proposal to test teachers in the subjects they taught. The test would be done at the eighth grade level (I think). The teacher unions balked at this and said it was discriminatory, as minorities would not pass these tests in greater numbers. Whether that is true or not, I'm not certain. But what I do know is that if a teacher can't pass a test in their own subject, then they are not professionals. I recall a 60 Minutes story a while back that said less than 10 total teachers had been let go due to incompetence during a several year period. That just stretches credibility to it's breaking point. I am in favor of more school funding and that certainly includes more pay for teachers. I said I think we should go to year round school. That would require more work hours and that will cost a lot, but I'm in favor of that as well. But we need a level of professionalism that doesn't exist, well, it doesn't exist much.

Mainstreaming children with cognitive disabilities, behavioral problems, is nothing more than a form of social promotion. That is a failed policy in my opinion. That, more than anything, in my opinion, is what causes parents with the means to seek out private schools. I know burnout is an occupational hazard in some professions. I suspect those kids cause more burnout amongst teachers than any other cause. If you put those kids in with kids who do not have these issues, I feel certain that much of the teacher's time will be spent with them. And if it is behavioral problems we're talking about, then you're reduced the teacher to a babysitter. That will burn them out quicker than anything.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

I might agree with that, actually.

I wonder why teachers would oppose it - any teachers around here to explain that?

But, given the large problem of parental influence, I'm not sure it would improve student performance much, which is the ultimate goal, right?

Mainstreaming is controversial, and I understand your point. I think it was a response to the "outcast" quality that those folks suffered in the past.

It's interesting that you don't offer any ideas on how to improve the parenting side of the equation, since that's the big problem you see. Or ideas on how to help with behavioral issues, etc. Seems like even though you feel there are other causes of the problem, the only idea you see is to put more money into schools.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

There's a comedian who does a routine called "You can't fix stupid". How do you fix the problem of bad parenting? I don't know. At least not without getting into those ares I've mentioned where the medicine is worse the the disease.

A few years ago, I read the book "Freakonomics). The author suggested that the greatest gift any parent could give their child was good genes. Should we limit who becomes a parent to only those with good genes? Disease, bad. Medicine, worse.

Should we limit parenthood to happily married couples making a good living, old enough and mature enough to handles the rigors of parenthood? Disease, bad. Medicine, worse.

From our past conversations I would guess you're all for programs designed to assist parents get the skills necessary to become good parents. If I thought we could achieve that with a simple set of classes that they attend and then graduate to be good parents, I'd be right with you. But you can't fix stupid. As long as we're going to have a society were individuals have the freedom to choose when they become parents and with whom they are going to become parents, and how many times over they are going to become parents, despite clear evidence that these individuals are totally incapable of being good parents, then we're going to have a problem that we can't fix. We can take away that freedom, but that would again be a case of disease, bad. Medicine, worse.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

It's interesting.

We see things rather differently. If I identify a cause of a problem, and the problem is one that I feel needs improvement, I seek ways to improve the situation.

You really think there's no way to help people become better parents?

What about other behavior - are people simply un-helpable in your view?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

No, I don't think all behavioral problems are unsolvable. Nor do I believe all behavioral problems are solvable. I think you have to pick your battles, fight for the causes that have some chance at succeeding while abandoning those where there is little chance of success.

We live in a real world, with real issues, real limitations. We could build one school building, staff it with ten dozen professionals and work to solve the problems of one very troubled individual. We could do that. But at what cost? The real world cost would be that hundreds or more other non troubled individuals would be shortchanged in their academic endeavors. So even though we could solve the problems of one individual (maybe, perhaps, I think), we choose not to. We don't make that choice because we are heartless mean people. We make that choice because we are realists.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago


If you abandon the idea of helping people become better parents, you doom their children to an inadequate education.

Is that a consequence you're willing to accept?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

Let me turn that question around. Are you willing to accept the consequences of allowing incompetent people the right to continue to have children that they are incapable of being good parents to?

Hint: There is no good answer. The same is true with your question.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

No it's not.

There's a great difference between trying to stop people from having children, and trying to help them become better parents.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

A difference without a distinction.

Both would be incredibly difficult to accomplish. I might argue that we haven't a clue as to how to accomplish this feat as evidenced by the fact that we've been completely unsuccessful in the past.

Both would be very time consuming. Both would be very expensive. It would siphon off resources from other equally well intended endeavors.

Both would have failure built into the equation. Both would have a "huge" amount of failure built into the equation.

With both, the primary good result would be making us feel better for having tried, not necessarily having accomplished our goal.

xorobabel 5 years, 7 months ago

No funding for the arts. Cuts in funding for historical sites. Large cuts in spending for public primary and secondary education. Stagnant (and possibly future cuts to) higher education spending.

But hey, at least those in the highest income bracket get to keep that 1.5% of their money.

Kansas -- on the fast track to the third world.

gr 5 years, 7 months ago

"But hey, at least those in the highest income bracket get to keep that 1.5% of their money."

Tell me, what percentage of income are they paying in taxes compared to the rest of us? The word, "keep", sounds a little..... weak.

Shardwurm 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh well, just time to throw in another 7 percent tuition increase so the white middle class can keep being burdened by more and more debt after being suckered into believing that going to college and spending $80k on a worthless degree is the smart thing to do.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

"the public school system is in need of a serious overhaul, top to bottom, inside and out."

By what measure? "Overhaul" and any changes deemed necessary could have been made without ripping budgets apart.

Serious cuts in the budget the last decade or so based on ideology have no doubt created problems that were non existent prior. BIG government interference is certainly NOT the answer.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

A high dollar voucher system that funnels tons of public education dollars into corporate schools is a money laundering operation of the highest order.

It has nothing to do with a better education or fiscal responsibility. Conservatives are on record as poor business mangers and big time reckless spenders as supply side economics provides as I see it.

There was nothing wrong with the public education system until conservatives came along and began cutting budgets and painting the system as evil. These corporate "evil minded" politicians see trillions of public school tax dollars that will make more of the 1% wealthier,shareholders happier and owners of the K-12 virtual curriculum even wealthier beyond belief.

The Walton's of Wal-Mart fame and fortune were pushing this nonsense through their personal contact with GW,the Bush family which owns software directly connected to K-12 and Reagan/Bush protege Bill Bennett among the original founders of K-12.

There is no way the voucher corporate school concept will or can provide a better education than the public school system. There is a lot of unfounded rhetoric. We must remember the most reliable source of fraud against government tax dollars is still some in corporate America.

A lot of our local mayors and other politicians are public school graduates. Tons and tons of successful farmers, business people,doctors and scientists are public school graduates.

So how in the hell can public education be evil?

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