Archive for Monday, October 22, 2012

Statehouse Live: Democrats launch school funding website to counter Brownback’s

October 22, 2012


Speaking Monday at Highland Park Central Elementary is Karen Godfrey, president of the Kansas-National Education Association. Behind her from left are Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, and House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence. The three unveiled a website for Kansans to take a survey on how school finance cuts have affected schools.

Speaking Monday at Highland Park Central Elementary is Karen Godfrey, president of the Kansas-National Education Association. Behind her from left are Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, and House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence. The three unveiled a website for Kansans to take a survey on how school finance cuts have affected schools.

— Angered over Gov. Sam Brownback’s solicitation of anonymous comments about allegations of waste in public schools, Democrats launched a website Monday seeking examples of how cuts to education over the past several years have affected schools and families.

“Administrators, parents, and teachers have been on the front lines trying to protect the quality of our children’s education with far fewer resources than they need to do the job properly,” said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence. “To imply that they are excessively inefficient is downright offensive. It’s time for Gov. Brownback to hear the stories and look beyond the bottom line.”

The Democrats’ survey is online at

Democrats have been pounding Brownback, a Republican, over school finance.

Last year, Brownback signed into law a record cut in base state aid per pupil and this year he approved a massive tax cut that many say will rob funds from schools and social services. Brownback has said the tax cuts will grow the economy.

Last month, Brownback appointed a 10-member task force with no educators to ferret out wasteful spending in schools and later announced a website for Kansans to submit examples of inefficiencies in the school system. The website is https://governor.ks/efficiency. Brownback said he wanted more of the state’s allocation to public schools to go into classroom instruction. Brownback later added a school superintendent to the task force.

But Democrats said Brownback was going to use the task force and website to criticize school spending.

“His website seems like nothing more than a forum to demonize educators,” state Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said at a news conference at Highland Park Central Elementary School.

The website for the Governor’s Task Force on School Efficiency also received a suggestion from the Kansas Parent Teachers Association to open the inefficiency tipline to “capture information similarly on best practices.”

In an email to the task force, Mary Sinclair, Kansas PTA Legislative Co-chair, said, “Please consider the following recommendation: Add a second efficiency tip line — one that is solution oriented. Provide a parallel link for tipsters to report and share successful strategies they have implemented in their school or district to become more efficient — strategies that other schools could adopt.”

Karen Godfrey, president of the Kansas-National Education Association and a 30-year teacher in the Seaman school district, said the task force and website launched by Brownback “borders on insulting.”

“Kansans are really proud of their schools. They should be because they are doing really well,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey said teachers, parents and administrators work all the time to stretch dollars in the school system, but noted that recent budget cuts have been harmful.

“We have had real losses in the last years from budget cuts,” Godfrey said. Programs and personnel that have been cut entirely or reduced across the state include summer school, music, art, counselors, libraries, textbooks and professional development, she said.

Hensley and Davis said responses to their survey will be compiled and presented to the Kansas Legislature at the start of the 2013 session in January.


Enlightenment 5 years, 7 months ago

Maybe a website should be established to identify the wasteful spending, crazy legislation, and egotistical self-serving decisions Brownback has made in the short time he has been in office.

KWCoyote 5 years, 7 months ago

Governor Brownback, vanguard of the stupid class, has set out to advance the interests of the stupid and take revenge on all of his classmates who made B's and A's while he was barely earning C's. Stupid people of the world, rise up and throw your dunce caps out the window. You now finally have the power to make the dark light of ignorance shine all across this normally intelligent state until the last true fact has been forgotten.

chootspa 5 years, 7 months ago

When was our education system the best in the world? By what measure was it the best? Did we measure all students when this happened, or just the white, non-disabled students?

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 7 months ago

I don't believe it is fair to compare a state's education system based on how much money they spend per student. More populous states have more students but not necessarily a lot more money to spend on them. You cannot compare Kansas students to those in New York or California. We should be looking at similar states such as Missouri and Iowa. How do we compare to states of similar size and population type? You can even look specifically at similar school districts across state lines. Look at KCK versus KCMO. Both are urban districts and are only separated by a river and a state border. Compare the various Johnson County schools to those in Parkville or other suburbs on the MO side. Not to mention that not every state funds schools in the same way. Minnesota is strictly per capita on students. They have a voucher system where a parent can send their child to another district and the funding will follow. Pennsylvania uses property taxes almost exclusively. There is also the fact that states have different ways of spending money on students. Growing up in Pennsylvania, I never had to pay for textbooks or other materials provided by the school. In Minnesota I had to pay a small fee for art class supplies. There are other states that ask their students and parents to contribute more to supplies. So don't simply look at the numbers. Look at how each dollar is being spent.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 7 months ago

Brownback's website is all part of the Koch inspired GOP war on children, women, facts, reality, etc.

bornon7 5 years, 7 months ago

Did Brownback's children attend public school? Where is he from? I am not a native Kansan, and I am trying to figure things our politcally around here. Thanks!

nascar 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure about Brownback's children but I've heard they attend private schools. What I DO know is that Brownback graduated from Prairie View High School in 1974, located in Linn County, KS. He participated in extra-curricular activities including Student Council, Future Farmers of America, sports, and school musicals. He obviously took advantage of the opportunities afforded him by a strong public school. This same district will be devastated if Brownback gets his way.

pittstatebb 5 years, 7 months ago

This district will be just fine as they happen to have a coal fired power plant in their district. If Brownback returns to more local funding with little state equalization, this district will simply raise property taxes and reap the benefits.

chootspa 5 years, 7 months ago

Yet another contendor for the irony prize. Stop it before you make the teachers ruin their computer screens with red pens.

chootspa 5 years, 7 months ago

A site that actually had a positive spin would be a welcome thing indeed. Instead of "Please tattle on a teacher," they could have a suggestion box for ways things could be improved, such as, "standardize attendance software and get a statewide license."

Armored_One 5 years, 7 months ago

Here's a novel concept... Why not just for a receipt?

Mike1949 5 years, 7 months ago

Being involved in the transportation side of our schools, I see the short cuts just to survive every year on not enough money to keep school buses running. They keep adding students, but don't have the buses to transport them efficiently is a daily problem. Keeping trained drivers are another key that keeps getting blocked by not enough money. So what we do, what we can, but at the cost of safety of both students and drivers.

oldbaldguy 5 years, 7 months ago

any of you posters talk to your fellow Kansan's about this? I suspect many are in favor of whacking school budgets. Two of my sisters are teachers. I know what they do and put up with. A friend of mine is a school board member. He always votes no on budget items. Even he says the worst is yet to come for funding education. Until there is real pain felt at the local level, the Govenor will get what he wants.

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