Archive for Monday, October 1, 2012

Statehouse Live: Brownback’s task force on school efficiency includes no one who works in a school

October 1, 2012


— Gov. Sam Brownback has formed a task force to find ways to run schools more efficiently but he didn't appoint anyone to the task force who works in a school.

Of the 10 members that Brownback put on the Governor's School Efficiency Task Force, six are CPAs, including Brownback's budget director Steve Anderson.

Of the other four members, all have business backgrounds, and some have served in education areas.

The panel will be chaired by Ken Willard of Hutchinson, who is on the State Board of Education and is a retired insurance industry executive. Another task force member has served in the past on a local school board, and another has served for 20 years on the board of Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning.

But no one on the task force goes into a classroom or school building each day. There are no teachers, principals, superintendents, or school fiscal officers.

Sherriene Jones-Sontag, a spokeswoman for Brownback, said the governor wanted the task force to have expertise in finance and spending.

And the news release from Brownback's office on the task force says that currently "only 15 of the 286 school districts in Kansas adhere to state law that requires at least 65 percent of funds provided by the state to school districts are to be spent in the classroom or for instruction."

But there is no state law that requires 65 percent of school funding be spent in the classroom.

There is a state law that says "it is the policy goal" of the state that at least 65 percent of funds from the state be spent in the classroom or for instruction. Jones-Sontag said Brownback believes school districts should be hitting that 65 percent mark.

But like similar provisions in other states, the so-called "65 percent solution" has been controversial because there is a lot of debate on what should count as classroom spending.

The Kansas Department of Education provides an annual report to the federal government that shows the percentage of instructional dollars spent out of each district's operating expenditures.

In this report, most districts are in the 60 percent to 65 percent range.

For example, in the 2010-11 school year, the Lawrence school district was at 61.76 percent, while Eudora was 61.17 percent and Baldwin City, 61.43 percent.

In the report, however, some expenditures that some say contribute to student performance are not counted, such as librarians, school nurses, counselors and transportation.

The issue of school funding has been at the forefront of political campaigns this year.

A lawsuit brought by some districts alleges the Legislature has failed its constitutional duty to adequately fund schools because of approximately $500 million in state cuts to education during the recession.

And Brownback and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature recently pushed through massive tax cuts that critics say will lead to classroom cuts because school funding makes up about one half of the state budget.

In announcing the task force, Brownback said, "Providing a quality education to the children of Kansas is one of the core functions of state government and will remain a top funding priority for my administration."

Brownback said the task force will "identify best practices for cutting administration cost, reducing overhead, and providing a greater percentage of state resources to support instruction."

Willard, the chairman of the new task force, said, "I look forward to working with this outstanding group of Kansans who have varied private and public sector experiences and expertise – especially in accounting and budget planning."


Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

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.


Sparko 1 year, 6 months ago

Worst. Governor. Ever. These guys are really not even trying to hide their contempt for the Middle Class. Or their agenda.


Constitutional_Malfeasance 1 year, 6 months ago

A teacher is the last person you want discussing efficiency.


Nani700 1 year, 6 months ago

I would think a bit of a mix on the taskforce would have been more beneficial. No one knows much about schools until one has actually worked in a school. But then, Slimmy Sam would not get the result he wants.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

Neither WOMEN nor Republicans nor Democrats nor the Upper Middle Class/Middle class can afford this RINO Party posing as republicans.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

Publicopoly Exposed 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.”

ALEC currently claims more than 250 corporations and special interest groups as private sector members:

  • 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.

More and more: =================== In recent months, ALEC has come under increasing scrutiny for its role in drafting bills to: attack workers’ rights roll back environmental regulations privatize education funded with our tax dollars deregulate major industries * passing voter ID laws.

Center for Media and Democracy organization released 800 model bills approved by companies and lawmakers at recent ALEC meetings.


getreal 1 year, 6 months ago

What makes me think the report has already been written and is sitting in a drawer over at ALEC so it can be pulled out and presented as this committee's work.


optimist 1 year, 6 months ago

Putting educators in charge of the money hasn't gotten us to where we want to be yet. This is exactly what is needed. Everyone wants the children of the State of Kansas to prosper. How much is spent should not matter as much as the result. To get the most out of our education dollars we need to continuously scrutinize how the money is being spent ensuring every cent is spent wisely. Such as with any investment the taxpayers should expect the Governor, administrators, and teachers to deliver a solid return on their investment. Business principles being applied to education are exactly what are needed.


wrnelson5313 1 year, 6 months ago

Common error to throw in apostrophes--just in case you need one--ad nauseam. The irony that it's written by a journalist, edited by someone else, with who knows how many other sets of fingerprints on it . . . in an article about public education funding.


autie 1 year, 6 months ago

according to Sherienne Songbird Pull the String She Talks Jones, Brownback sets the stage to eliminate librarians, school nurses, counselors and transportation.


earthnvessel 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm a republican..but I'm not surprised...I don't agree with the way he does things many times.


friendlyjhawk 1 year, 6 months ago

Vote that stupid !@#$%^&*() out of office. Schools are a "business" but have different products with plastic cups or tires. They need financial direction of course but they also need people that have an expertise in the human component of schools. Their product is our future.


wrnelson5313 1 year, 6 months ago

But what does the errant apostrophe in "CPA's" (second sentence) say to anyone?


grammaddy 1 year, 6 months ago

Kinda like the all-male panel discussing Women's health care issues.Republicans are too much!


verity 1 year, 6 months ago

Did anyone expect anything different? Of course, Brownback wouldn't appoint anyone who knows anything about the subject at hand.

The Republicans have pretty much flushed the American Dream down the toilet in less than a generation.


KS 1 year, 6 months ago

I think it is a great idea to get folks who do not either run or work at a school. Those folks have screwed up the public school system for years. They can't see the forest for the trees. Get someone in there with some common business sense to clean up the act. Kudos for Brownback.. He apparently is not afraid to try someting different since the past has failed.


blue73harley 1 year, 6 months ago

He makes the Arnold, the Governator look like a genius.


Tracy Rogers 1 year, 6 months ago

How about a task force to sit down and figure exactly how much money it costs and how much manpower it takes to fill out all the forms required by state and federal government. There's your solution. Cut out all the red tape and you've got plenty of money to get to the classrooms.


blue73harley 1 year, 6 months ago

The Worst Governor Ever.

He has risen to the level of his incompetence.


vlpete 1 year, 6 months ago

This is where he wants to take our state, Michigan anyone? 61 kids per classroom?


Kate Rogge 1 year, 6 months ago

He wants public schools to fail so that ALEC private schools get state monies to cherry-pick the best of public school students. There's no hiding behind the curtain strategy here. He's been clear that he wants to eliminate government and privatize government services.


observant 1 year, 6 months ago

Face it, brownie has been told by Koch and ALEC not to allow anyone who is not a total nutcase on any committee brownie appoints. Otherwise his "contribution" checks will disappear.


yourworstnightmare 1 year, 6 months ago

I agree that 65% or more should be spent toward educational goals in the classroom. Fewer administrators is probably a good thing.

However, Brownback is either ignorant or is a liar in his statement of the "65% law".

I have not probem with a fiscalefficiency task force including mostly non-educators involved in account, fince and business operations. But all of them? Not a single voice of a teacher or principal?

This tells me that Brownback already knows his answer and doesn't want broad input or facts to dissuade him of his answer based on ideology.


kuguardgrl13 1 year, 6 months ago

What a great idea! School = company, and student = product, right? Any teacher who doesn't produce good products gets fired. Because every teacher has complete control over how much and how well a child learns :P These business types won't be able to understand the huge number of variables that affect a child's education. There is so much more to the teacher-student relationship than stuffing information into an absorbable brain. We tried this before at the turn of the 20th century. Desks were put into rows, and students had to recite multiplication tables and the states and their capitals. Schools are not factories. We can't throw out students that don't come out perfectly. If Kansas educators let these people make decisions without them, you can kiss quality education in this state goodbye.


situveux1 1 year, 6 months ago

Deflect, deflect, deflect from that less than 65% spent in the classroom...


kalgarin 1 year, 6 months ago

Isnt this parr for the course with this idiot???!!!


observant 1 year, 6 months ago

And the idiot right wing nutcase GOP/Teabaggers voted this total a$$$$$ in.


Roland Gunslinger 1 year, 6 months ago

Is anyone surprised?

Governor Brownback's task force on taxes consisted of a puppeteer, a mime, two goats, and a 9 year old who played XBox the whole time.


commonsenseanyone 1 year, 6 months ago

Well, common sense tells me that schools aren't currently very efficient so why would you get people who are already running it inefficiently to try to tell you how to run it......more efficient.


Larry Sturm 1 year, 6 months ago

How about Brownback being investigated by the K B I for corruption in running the state government.


question4u 1 year, 6 months ago

Brownback has appointed the experts that he wants. Clearly, all that he cares about is how to find ways to camouflage the effects of cutting funding to education. Getting a bunch of accountants together is exactly the right strategy. They will have nothing to say about addressing the drop in outcomes on state assessment tests, but that isn't Brownback's concern.

Brownback has put Kansas on the road to a $2.5 billion deficit in five years, and anyone who believes that he hasn't planned all along to take an axe to education funding is living in a fantasy world. As with everything else that he does, his strategy involves subterfuge and spin.

This task force is intended to carry out the same hatchet job that occurred at KDOT. We will hear some effluvium about efficiency from Brownback's mouthpiece and will see jobs eliminated, but is there a single person in this state or anywhere else who believes that Brownback cares about the quality of education in Kansas? You'd have to believe in the Great Pumpkin, Santa Claus and the unfailing eyesight of replacement referees to buy something that outlandish.


tomatogrower 1 year, 6 months ago

These people don't care about schools; they only care that Brownback has given them a job. Hmmm, more big government. Another new government agency. Doesn't sound very conservative to me. I wonder how much they are making. And I wonder how many are big contributors to Brownback's political pot. Are any of them from Florida? Having unqualified employees has been a hallmark of this administration.

Quit running schools like a business. Schools can't be run like businesses. If a business gets sent defective materials, they send it back to the venders. If that were the case then schools could send a disrespectful, lazy kid back to his parents to fix. Like that's ever going to happen.


chootspa 1 year, 6 months ago

Why not skip the middle man and just introduce the ALEC legislation without the kabuki theater?


Slidell 1 year, 6 months ago

Is there no end to the self-interest of this man? Who could ever believe he represents the people he governs? Wake me, when this nightmare is over! I cannot stand it any longer!


deec 1 year, 6 months ago

This bunch should be called the Committee to Gut Public Education and Justify Privatization.


Bob_Keeshan 1 year, 6 months ago

Brownback believes schools should be hitting 65%.

That makes it the law. Duh.

Also, Rothschild liberal media slant bad reporter hates conservatives liberal.


cheeseburger 1 year, 6 months ago

It is both surprising and disappointing that there wasn't some school official representation on the task force. I'm not saying the task force should have been dominated by school people, but there should be some input from them.


jehovah_bob 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm certain Willard will be able to Intelligently Design a solution to the 65% solution.


costello 1 year, 6 months ago

I am so glad that I have no children of school age and that neither of my sons is likely to have children of their own.


bunnyhawk 1 year, 6 months ago

Hey! Expertise is a barrier to progress, right?


Slowponder 1 year, 6 months ago

I am glad Brownback was not in charge of the Manhattan Project. He would have appointed quilters and insurance salesmen.


HutchSaltHawk 1 year, 6 months ago

Willard used to be an on-air guy and manager at KWHK in Hutch


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