Archive for Friday, October 19, 2012

Dems blast website seeking examples of school waste

October 19, 2012


TOPEKA ­— Gov. Sam Brownback’s call for Kansans to tell officials about examples of waste in public schools has drawn a sharp reaction from Democrats.

“We should celebrate our public schools and fully restore the funding cuts they’ve endured since the recession began,” House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said Thursday. “We should not be demonizing them and searching for excuses to cut their funding even more.”

Sherriene Jones-Sontag, a spokeswoman for Brownback, said the governor wasn’t trying to demonize schools but wants the public to help identify ways schools can improve efficiency.

On Wednesday, Brownback announced the establishment of a website where people can anonymously report their experiences with inefficient spending in the educational system to the Governor’s School Efficiency Task Force. The website is https://governor.ks/efficiency.

“Inefficient spending impacts Kansas taxpayers at every level, from the state general fund to local property taxes,” Brownback said. “Moving forward, we owe it to Kansas taxpayers to ensure those resources are used as efficiently as possible.”

But Democrats said the move was another attack by Brownback on public schools.

Earlier, they had been critical of the 10-member School Efficiency Task Force appointed by Brownback because it was dominated by accountants, including Brownback’s budget director Steve Anderson, and had no one who was an educator or worked in a school.

In the same news release announcing the website, Brownback also said he was adding an 11th member to the task force — Iola school superintendent Brian Pekarek.

“Brian is well-known as a superintendent who is open to new ideas,” Brownback said.

Democrats have alleged that the task force is going to be used to provide cover for Brownback to cut state funding to schools. But Brownback has said he will protect school funding.

Davis said, “Instead of hosting an online forum to complain about public schools, why not discuss all the innovative ways our teachers and administrators have done more with less since Gov. Brownback implemented the largest cut to education funding in Kansas history?” Brownback and the Republican-led Legislature cut schools by $232 per student in 2011, but then added $58 to base state aid per pupil this year.

In the news release, the governor’s office repeated its claim that only 54 percent of total school funding goes into the classroom for instruction, but Democrats and educators have said the governor’s office is not figuring the total correctly.

The task force’s next meeting is Nov. 9. Chairman Ken Willard of Hutchinson urged Kansans to visit the website and share information about school inefficiencies.

“While task force members are researching and analyzing where inefficiencies are occurring in our educational system, we also want to hear directly from Kansans who have their own ideas and suggestions on how to make our schools more efficient,” Willard said.

By late Thursday morning, the website had received 75 suggestions, Jones-Sontag said. She said the suggestions eventually will be compiled for the task force. She said she assumed the compilation would be available to the media and public, too.

Jones-Sontag said Brownback wants to increase student performance on state and national tests, and increase the number of high school graduates who are career- or college-ready. “The governor wants to make sure our spending reflects our education goals,” she said. “We want to put resources into the classroom, where teachers teach and children learn.”


Flap Doodle 5 years, 1 month ago

So the Democrats want to conceal examples of waste in schools?

Greg Cooper 5 years, 1 month ago

No more than the Journal World Online wants to conceal the exceptional waste of a mind makiing stupid comments such as yours in this instance.

Fatty_McButterpants 5 years, 1 month ago

If it wasn't just a witch hunt then the website would require that the comments have a name attached to them.

GardenMomma 5 years, 1 month ago

"On Wednesday, Brownback announced the establishment of a website where people can anonymously report their experiences with inefficient spending in the educational system to the Governor’s School Efficiency Task Force. The website is https://governor.ks/efficiency."

It's not anonymous when you need to submit your name, email, and home address on the form.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

Those are optional, not required.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

Most people couldn't name the three branches of government, don't know who their representatives are in the House of Representatives and couldn't find Afghanistan on a map, yet will be voting next month. There are problems we can fix and problems we cannot.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

I think that's an interesting idea.

Make everybody take the citizenship test, and if they don't pass it, make them take the course.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

Make them take the course ... or else, what?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

Hold on a sec., I'm checking my copy of the Constitution to see what it might say about that. I'll be back in a while.

Really, as good as that might make you feel, I'm certain you're not serious.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm serious about it.

It would probably require a constitutional amendment, of course.

Why shouldn't we require citizens to pass the same test that prospective citizens have to pass, in order to gain the rights and benefits of citizenship?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

First off, a Constitutional Amendment such that you're describing has as much chance of passing as me being elected king of the universe. Of course, we can still have a cute little theoretical discussion, as long as we preface it as such. Because in reality, it's going nowhere.

That said, what you're really saying is that in order to be an American, in order to receive the rights and benefits of citizenship, you've got to be smart. Or at least smart in areas you determine to be important. I wonder how many of those at Cottonwood will be losing their rights and benefits as citizens? Know anyone who works there that can give us an answer? My very own spousal unit cares little of politics in general, but frames her vote around one issue and one issue alone and then votes accordingly. I may think it foolish (though I dare not tell her until I do get elected king of the universe), but is that not her right? There has been speculation that part of the reason Kennedy won was because he was good looking. Shall we give that election to Nixon. (Never mind, he got his). Some will never vote for a Mormon, Jew, Catholic, Muslim, Black. Sounds un-American to me, should they also be denied their rights and benefits?

Pretty soon, the only people who will be citizens will be you and I. And I'm having my doubts about you. :-)

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

Not smart.

Well educated enough to understand how our system works.

After that, people can vote as they like, in whatever stupid fashion they choose, whether it's cuteness, clothes, etc.

But at least they know enough about how our system works, and is designed.

That seems to me the very least that everybody should know in order to participate in the political process.

I understand the issue regarding dd folks, of course. But, you understand the problem we currently have, as you've mentioned it numerous times, of a not very well informed public.

Why do we make those from other nations who wish to be citizens take the course and pass it? If it's not important for American citizens to know those things, why not skip that?

Cute Thoreau reference, to be sure :-)

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

This just seems to be another one of those instances where the medicine is worse than the disease. I'm not pretending there isn't a disease, in this case an uninformed electorate. I just think literacy tests, denying some the vote, whatever, may in fact be worse than the uninformed electorate.

As to why immigrants should take the test, a rationale argument might be that it helps them function better in their new country, voting only being a very small part of that function.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

Then the test would also be helpful in getting current citizens to function better as well, right :-)

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

I absolutely agree. But that test would be very much like a high school education. I assume we're both in favor of that. And we should do everything in our power to have everyone complete school.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

It's much more narrowly focused than high school.

If you have the time and interest, you should go take the test - it's available online. I did, and got an almost perfect score, and I have some questions about the one or two things I got wrong.

And, people seem to forget a lot of what they learn in school, so it may not be enough for somebody to complete high school - I imagine that many of the folks on here who routinely fail to understand our system did in fact graduate from high school.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 1 month ago

Anonymous complaints on the Internet, eh? How does due process work here? Will the accusers wear bags on their heads when they testify? The East Germans would be proud.

sci4all 5 years, 1 month ago

Wonder why Brownback hasn't proposed this anonymous anecdote gathering for every other part of the Kansas system?

tbaker 5 years, 1 month ago

Whats wrong with pointing out where the tax-payers money is being wasted? What are they afraid of?

Lets say I give $100. You spend all of it, $75 on legitimate uses, and you waste $25. The next budget cycle I give you $75.

How is removing the waste cutting funding? You got the same money for legit expenses as you got the last time.

Of course "waste" is in the eye of the beholder, and this goes double for a government operation. Defining waste is very difficult for government to do because cost and value choices are driven by political motivations and have nothing to do with what makes the best economic sense for the delivery of a competitive product or service.

This is yet another example of where government fails and the private sector succeeds.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

"Let's say I give you $100. You spend all of it, $75 on legitimate uses, and you waste $25. The next budget cycle I give you $75."

That sounds good, but what happens when that $75 dollars is spent, $55 legitimately and $20 is wasted. So the next cycle only $55 is appropriated. Of that $40 is spent legitimately while $15 is wasted. Pretty soon, you'll be appropriating nothing.

I would not be making this argument if we talking about many areas of government spending, including government waste. But I make an exception for education. I'd rather we throw money at this problem, hoping some of it will stick, than to throw money at just about any other problem, hoping some of that will stick. Education is that important.

tbaker 5 years, 1 month ago

Well, the stats are in. For the last 40 years, per student spending on education has steadily risen and there has been no coresponding increase in the quality of the service being provided. Clearly, "hoping some of it will stick" is not a viable course of action.

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 1 month ago

The stats may be in, but you have obviously not looked at them. Graduation rates have increased over 40 years ago, dropouts have decreased, ACT scores have gone up, practically every way of measuring progress in education has gone up.

tbaker 5 years, 1 month ago

Wrong on all counts. Cite a source.

KSManimal 5 years, 1 month ago

YEAH! Because everyone knows everything costs the same now as it did 40 years ago. No? Oh, inflation. Right. But just ask Brownie, the Koch's, and Dave Trabert: they'll set you straight with the facts: inflation has no effect on public schools. Educating kids costs exactly the same now as it did 40 years ago. Yeah. They'll tell you.

dabbindan 5 years, 1 month ago

yes tbaker, and partially accounting for the increase of the expense of education has been over the same 40 years, a shift of a big part of the responsibility for raising children from parents to educators. of course, they can't do it as effectively and consequently getting the attention of the student to provide them an education has become more difficult as well.

tbaker 5 years, 1 month ago

Government schools, much the same as any government-ran enterprise, are far more concerned with protecting the status quo than they are improving the quality of the education they deliver to our children. Only when you tie student performance to the continued existence of the school can you ever hope to improve it. Those running the school need to know that their continued employment depends on how well the students learn and perform. Giving parents the choice to take their child out of an under-performing school (and the funding with them) and choose a different one is the way to do this. Every single time competition is introduced into something, whatever the something is gets better. There is not a single example of this ever failing to work. Right now government schools effectively have a monopoly on K-12 education. The results of this are plain to see.

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

It's the anonymity of the comments that trouble me. Of course, if he promises to not believe everything that is submitted without investigating it, then it would be ok. But I know a lot of people would say the friend of my girlfriend's stylist's mother-in-law said...

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

You better believe he'll have a huge stack of, "My constituents tell me..." anecdotes that he can slip in without fact checking. This is a fishing expedition for excuses to cut funding and not have the citizens all pissed off at him for breaking his campaign promises.

tbaker 5 years, 1 month ago

Excellent example of the Ad Hominem / Straw Man combo. Thanks Grandma.

Stu Clark 5 years, 1 month ago

tbaker, your respnse to grandma indicates that you have no (or a wrong) idea of what these terms mean. You might want to try Goggle before expsing your ignorance.

tbaker 5 years, 1 month ago

So it would be a waste to look for waste? That about right? profound. Government should just keep blowing money on crap becuase it would be too much trouble to try and stop it. You crack me up.


question4u 5 years, 1 month ago

WICHITA – A major aviation firm is requesting that Kansans report examples of waste in the firm's operations. A spokesman for the firm said, "We are asking anyone with no expertise to leave anonymous comments on our website. We especially encourage participation from anyone with a grievance, no matter how trivial. We would particularly like to hear from those who applied for employment at our firm but were deemed unsuitable. Real experts aren't turning up the waste, so now it's time to bring in the amateurs."

Some have objected to the firm's website as counterproductive. The spokesman responded, "We have found that we are able to recruit top employees by cutting operations budgets, instituting ever more stringent demands for accountability, and asking the general public to anonymously disparage our employees and our company."

Jane Doe, a prospective employee at the firm, was excited by the new website. "It's one of the reasons that I want to work here," she said. "I graduated summa cum laude and had the opportunity to major in other fields in college, but when I heard that this firm had an obsessive suspicion of its employees and was even recruiting informants I realized that this was for me. Shrinking pensions, constant battles over wages, and all the signs of massive impending cuts were just icing on the cake."

In Brownbackistan backwards land just keeping beating things down and they will grow like never before.

John Hamm 5 years, 1 month ago

Republicans - Proactive Democrats - Reactive

bad_dog 5 years, 1 month ago

"Why does Brownback spend tax dollars attacking windmills?"

Because he perceives them as easy, defenseless targets.

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 1 month ago

What's wrong with them going to a Board member and reporting it? The Board is ultimately that principal's boss.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 1 month ago

Chain of command works better. One BOE member has no authority (and probably no evidence) and may mishandle the situation. If the local system is functional and responsive, chain of command is always best. Then, if the board finally gets involved, they will discuss actual facts, not anonymous BS from Muscular Sam's website.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 1 month ago

There are already ways to do this in board policy, including financial fraud. The policies are required by law. "Waste" is not as easily proved as it seems. Prove fraud and you might have something. In America, you would have to testify. In Muscular Sam's country, who knows how it will go down.

bad_dog 5 years, 1 month ago

"What if a teacher wants to blow the whistle on their own principal?"

Not gonna touch that comment with a ten foot pole...

Paul R Getto 5 years, 1 month ago

See my comment above. Law and policy allow for this and some acts would require the teacher to report.

bad_dog 5 years, 1 month ago

I believe you missed the context...

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

A lot of the current capitol renovations aren't necessary, and are extravagant.

Satirical 5 years, 1 month ago

Are Kansas Democrats seriously opposed to discovering wasteful spending? If the media wasn't so liberal, this would get national attention, along with a plethora of jokes from every late night comedian.

If the National Republican Party is the "Party of No," the Kansas Democrats must surely be also. Oppose everything simply because you don't like who is in charge of the Executive Branch! Great idea...

bad_dog 5 years, 1 month ago


That would have been a cute double entendre had you intended it. Perhaps they should have been investigating waste in 3rd grade spelling for the last few decades.

Trumbull 5 years, 1 month ago

I wonder who pays for the coffee in the Capital building? They can save a few bucks. Is there a website to post this?

paulveer 5 years, 1 month ago

Seventy-five? I can tell you for a fact that a very large number of these and future hits are to complain about the site itself, and the process it represents.

I would guess that 95% are probably just that.

I would also guess 4% are personal grudges and the like.

And I would guess that if they wade through all of that and fully investigate all claims, they might find less than 1% contain information on legitimate, fixable inefficiencies; information which could (and is regularly) be obtained by the school boards responsible for dealing with such matters.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 1 month ago

Speaking of spelling, is that the building where they keep all the money?

George Lippencott 5 years, 1 month ago

KRichardsoffers: "That's not the point. The point is letting those who know best reduce waste. Those are the school boards, board of education, principals and administrators"

Moderate Responds: Kind of like many on here demanding massive reductions in military spending with nary a clue as to the impact.

bad_dog 5 years, 1 month ago

We must protect the fatted calf at all cost. Heck let's throw another couple of trillion their way.

dabbindan 5 years, 1 month ago

yup sam, gotcha's might be useful information and actually help reduce expenses.

however, how about softening the cudgel some by including a place to make suggestions that in a positive way could improve efficiency and contribute to reducing expenses. that way, even if you didn't really mean it, you could make the stakeholders in the educational picture at least think YOU think they did something positve and useful as they struggle to educate the children of kansas.

my suggestion to you would be to hire a more effective public relations manager. in the interview, ask them to share their understanding of the concepts of negativity, punitive, antagonistic as well as concepts like positivity, helpfulness, collaborative.

classclown 5 years, 1 month ago

Did KansasConscience feel appropriately smug when (s)he clicked the submit button that posted that comment?

FlintHawk 5 years, 1 month ago

No more than you when you posted your oh-so-clever riposte.

Armstrong 5 years, 1 month ago

I would love to see an article by Rothy - or anyone as to why streamlining ( cutting waste ) from education is a bad idea.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

Rather unlikely, because nobody believes that.

The problem is in finding and defining waste.

lunacydetector 5 years, 1 month ago

big screen televisions in the hallway used as a message board.

imported from germany, two legged ergonomic chairs.

a different architectural design for every new school built - why not stick with one design?

custom made three dimensional wall reliefs.

apple computers in custom made desks.

more expensive lazer cut aluminum lettering for signage.

overhead projectors built into the walls.

the most expensive institutional doors available.

etc, etc

Armstrong 5 years, 1 month ago

Your ignorance of construction / manufacturing processes is astounding. Basic rule, the more you make the of same thing the cheaper it is to make them. Through process streamlining, bulk material purchases, maintenance issues.... Repetition creates shortcuts / betters the bottom line. Ya may want to stick with copy pasting videos.

Armstrong 5 years, 1 month ago

Yep the fact thing cripples your lame arguement every time. Copy/paste tange, go with your strengths

Armstrong 5 years, 1 month ago

Go with your strenght copy/paste master

Armored_One 5 years, 1 month ago

To avoid an hour of cutting, pasting and adding quotation marks and all the rest of that nonsense, I'm just going to number your individual lines.

  1. Because students ALWAYS pay attention to the daily announcements and learn them verbatum the instant they hear them.

  2. Dunno where you are seeing these cahirs, because they certainly are not in any classroom I have stepped into in the last 5 years.

  3. Why not just name them all the same, as well. It would cut down on the cost of stationary, let alone the cost of IT to monitor/maintain those individual school websites?

  4. God forbid there should be any individuality in the buildings what-so-ever...

  5. Perhaps you would rather the students be given 386/33's to utilize in school, instead of exposing them to the technology they are going to have to know in the real world, to one extent or another.

  6. See item 4.

  7. As opposed to the clunky ones that were used 20 years ago when I was in school. That was exceptionally more efficient. Granted, pointing out that you can buy lesson plans online for basically any class taught in grade, middle or high school, would be pointless.

  8. Yes, let's put all this technology in then install door that can't stop a hard sneeze, let alone someone intent on aquiring said items at a steep discount...

Yes, all of those rebuttals are sarcastic in tone, but take out the sarcastic overtone, and you are still left with valid questions. I'm just curious as to whether you'll actually respond, or just vaguely attempt some kind of snide attack. Sidestepping any/all of it would be another option I wouldn't be shocked to see, either.

costello 5 years, 1 month ago

About 35 years ago when my mom was working for SRS, they had a program where employees could get an award for coming up with ways to save money. My mom had discovered that if she sent applications for services without the envelope - just putting the address on the outside of the app and stapling or taping it shut - she not only saved the envelope, but pushed the weight down enough to save on postage as well.

Someone nominated her for this award - which included a $200 or so reward. We were pretty excited for a while - until workers at other offices protested it wouldn't work, because they were including a bunch of other crap when they mailed out applications. According to my mom they weren't supposed to include that stuff with the application, but nevertheless she didn't get the award. She did keep saving the state money by mailing the applications without the envelope.

Maybe this would be a better program? Reward the workers who do the job every day for noticing ways to be more efficient?

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