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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Education boosters

January 27, 2014

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To the editor:

In a recent column, Dolph C. Simons Jr. asked who is fighting for public education. As he noted, educators have been doing so for years, though their advocacy is labeled self-interest. There are also some true pro-education legislators in the trenches.  

But there is a growing movement of parents and other concerned citizens. Game On for Kansas Schools is a nonpartisan effort to increase participation in education funding and policy issues. Kansas PTA, Kansas Families for Education, Schools for Fair Funding, Save Olathe Schools, Andover Parents Legislative Council, and Defend the American Dream — Kansas Public Schools are other active groups. Parents in Goddard, Derby, Lawrence and other cities are also getting organized.

The Kansas Association of School Boards and its members are working to ensure Kansas maintains its strong public schools. Other groups include education among their core issues, including MainStream Coalition, True Blue Women, Reroute the Roadmap, and League of Women Voters. The Kansas Health Institute and Kansas Center for Economic Growth provide education policy analyses. These groups are alarmed by cuts to operating budgets and increasing demographic and outcomes demands on our schools (which contrast with some politicians’ reports of education spending and failure to acknowledge cuts). 

So the answer, Mr. Simons, is many people. We face obstacles, but we’re here, and we’re getting organized and louder. We’re advocating for our children and our neighbors’ children because we understand the essential nature of a strong public education system. Please listen to us and join us.

Comments

Gerald Kerr 2 months, 1 week ago

Barbara, my math isn't off your perception is off. Put your own pen to it. Incremental dollars between 33,00 and 120,000- the very heart of a productive middle class families income. Federal tax 30%, state tax 5%, FICA 15% (you pay 7.5%, employer pays 7.5% on your behalf), Medicare tax 7%, Obamacare mandated tax or penalty or increased premium 7%, sales tax (9% where I live), property tax, energy and alcohol excise tax, utility and communications taxes and fees, auto registration and license fee, tolls, licensing fees, environmental and energy transmission fee and tax. Add your own up Barbara, count every one. 65% is probably underestimating the total you pay.

This doesn't include the most punishing tax of all, inflation. Inflation if measured fairly as measured say in 1980 would be 9% today. The government lies, cheats the figures to keep you complacent and keep them reelected.

The Catholic school and 2 protestant schools in my little community charge less than that. So what?

PS what is an unthreaded response?

We've carried this discussion as far as it can go, Barbara. You take the last word.

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Gerald Kerr 2 months, 1 week ago

Barabara, median family income has not gone up in a decade. Family median disposable income has actually gone down and that is without taking into account the cheat the Feds have applied to inflation rate cpi calculations- real inflation at the household level is much higher than published.

You mention Kansas State income tax of 1690.00 for a family of four. Add to that, in our county for example, 29.5 mills for the community college and 45 mills for the local USD including general and specific account levies. Currently our Superintendent is beating the drum for further levy increase to "modernize the curriculum".

Did you know Barbara that all family income is taxed at a level that is obscene? including State, local, Federal, taxes and fees including Fica, registration fees, excise taxes, enviornment and communications taxes, energy taxes on utilities, property taxes, mandated Obama Care taxes there is precious little disposable income left for education and it,s ancillary costs.

In Kansas a families incremental income between 33,000 and 120,000 is taxed at a level of over 65%. Is it any wonder that folks are struggling and furious about idiotic pulic education programs growing in cost at an alarming rate. The current public sector spending and tax burden, including Education costs and taxes is not sustainable. It is unjust and irrational to expect families to support the unsupportable.

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Gerald Kerr 2 months, 1 week ago

Barabara, what I hope for is affordable choice in education and a return to sensible curricula open to traditional wisdom in the public schools. The current public school operation tends to replace the God of our fathers and mothers with a god of strong central power which claims the mantle of omniscience and omnipotence and altruism of the transcendent God of history. This god has feet of clay and offers confusion upon confusion as it drives its barren ideology with deceit and misdirection.

Affordable alternitives to this disasterous mess are required. Alternatives bring fair competition and a hope that a better model for all will be rediscovered. The present Public school monopoly run by ideological zealots cannot sustain its claim to all the public funds it demands for educating our nations children. The tax burden is too great. There is nothing left in the average families budget to provide for a sane and affordable alternative.

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Gerald Kerr 2 months, 1 week ago

Barbara, I am an education booster as are you. The public education highway you describe is consuming ever more public and private highway building resources. Public Education monopoly already consumes the vast majority of funds spent in Kansas. State and local taxes used to support the education monopoly are growing daily, these taxes deplete the families ability to build alternatives to educate their children as the parents see fit.

Public roads to education are becoming ever more restrictive as they become unaffordable. Those who want their children to learn traditional values and insights about the meaning of their lives and the world they live in are excluded or at least marginalized by a system that is controlled ever more by ideologues who push a cynical and materialist agenda that is palpably opposed to the great traditions and insights of our ancestors.

The cultural mess America endures is in part do to centralized power controlling ever scarcer private resources in a manner abhorrent to many taxed to pay for that which they deem destructive. The Public Education juggernaut must not be allowed to monopolize an unjust share of resources available to the nation's families.

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Gerald Kerr 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Thomas, I'm not sure what your point is. "Private education only benefits those that attend private schools" thats no more true of private schools than it is of public schools. Those who attend private schools are citizens like those who attend public schools and contribute to society no less than public school students and families. They are taxpayers like public school families and both are protected by the constitution and bill of rights.

Public means all. Well, that used to be true more or less, but over past 60 years or so public schools have tended to be more exclusive of traditional beliefs and values, more hostile to them. God is excluded from the curriculum and matters of faith are portrayed as myth at best and subversive superstition in the main. Now common core restricts even further the traditional cannon of literature-tearing an authors works apart piecemeal, redacting essential elements of the story, twisting traditional interpretive meaning, suggestion lines of questioning that demote the clash between vice and virtue. The authors telling of the story is deconstructed thus the story is killed and ideology contrived memes are injected into teachers notes which confuse and distract from the pathos thus killing the literary genius and the STORY itself.

I too want an education that represents all and not just a few. I resent your notion that private or home schoolers are not equal in some sense, not sovereign citizens. Separate and especially unequal seems to be your regard for those who want to educate their children in the more traditional fashion teaching as they do ancient truths tried and true.

Finally, Home schooled children and most private schools do a excellent job of economizing in this time of severe economic decline, recession, even depression.

Public Schools must not be allowed to monopolize all public resources available for educating the next generation of Americans. Healthy and vibrant home schools and private schools are critical to education and value formation of the next generation.

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Thomas Bryce 2 months, 2 weeks ago

"Strong private education is beneficial to the culture". Private education only benefits those that attend Private school. Their skills can go on to benefit society but the same goes for Public School attendees as well. Public means All. Private means Not All-only some. I believe I want an education that represents all of us instead of just a few Based on Financial or Ideological reasons. Separate but equal does not work here. They are not equal by any stretch of the imagination.But they are separate and should be kept as such. There are plenty of choices for an education here in America as it stands right now. Don't see anything you like? Not sure what to tell you about that.

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Gerald Kerr 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Thomas, It is not unconstitutional for public tax dollars to support private institutions directly or indirectly. Where on earth did you hear that? Grants from the public treasury are given to private citizens and institutions every day. Education, R&D grants to private Universities and Hospitals, tuition grants to students attending private universities, etc..

All sorts of private groups and institutions including religious ones, political, cultural, enviornmental, ideological are given indirect aid by encouraging folks to support them thru tax dedductions and credits. Strong private education is beneficial to the culture. It allows for diversity and choice and enhances competition for excellence.

Don't be afraid of choice in education. Parental choice is healthy and enhances liberty and educational quality. We don't want a nation entirely composed of secular progressive bots do we?

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Gerald Kerr 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Public Schools are not owned by the government but by the people. They are tools to educate the peoples children. Private schools educate the peoples children too. Tax refunds, deductions, and rebates are inherent to our system. We the people give folks money via vouchers to buy food, utilities, housing, medical care. We rebate tax funds and allow deductions for tens of thousands of actions- charitable donations, support of 401c special interests, R&D into tens of thousands of projects like oil exploration, solar, wind, drug, health and medical experimentation and development, etc..

Public Schools while important and critical for a well educated nation must not be allowed to monopolize all of the financial resources used by the people to educate their children. There must be choice in education. The people must have some liberty, some disgression in how their children are to be educated. One size does not fit all. It is not healthy for public schools to be the only affordable educational choice for American tax payers. Of course vouchers are a good idea. It's the American way.

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Gerald Kerr 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Barbara, according to the "The Atlantic" average salaries of teachers in public sector are $50,000 and are $36,000 in private schools- a 39% advantage for public school teachers. According to the national center for education statistics (nces.ed.org) the class size in public schools has decreased 41% since 1960. Since 1960 teachers salaries have increased from an inflation adjusted $ 36,844.00 then to an average of $56,069 now. That represents a total compensation increase including adjustment for inflation of 49%.

Public education is important and even crucial for the survival of our country. That being said, teachers and administrators salaries are not crucial and are in fact unaffordable and non sustainable at the current rate of increase. The rate of increase in size and expense of the public education bureaucracy is not sustainable either.

Parents who care about the education of their children must have more control and access to the funds they are now forced to turn over to government for the education of their children. Parent directed education rather than educrat directed education must become stronger in this country and state. Vouchers are a dirty word in public education circles. Why? Are home schooled and private school educated children learning less? Are they costing more to educate? Are they less productive and virtuous citizens? How much animus toward parent directed education of their own children is based upon the naked economic interests of the whole public educational bureaucracy?

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Gerald Kerr 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Facts are facts. These are the Federal Governments own facts: On average the public sector compensates employees at a much higher rate than the private sector that is highly taxed to support them. On average at the state level personnell earn 46% more and earn 57% more at the federal level.

We need public services and the jobs that support them but folks working these jobs should be payed at an affordable rate.

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Richard Heckler 2 months, 2 weeks ago

ALEC is the source of leadership against public education. Why? Because the ALEC thinkers see trillions of public school tax dollars going into their bank accounts. Profit first as always.

--- ALEC's education bills encompass more than 20 years of effort to privatize public education through an ever-expanding…. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/02/02-9

--- PAA In Florida http://www.causes.com/causes/556335-save-our-schools-march-and-national-call-to-action/actions/1631598

--- Wal-Mart-Walton Money Against Public Education http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2011/09/19/walton-influence-at-work-in-wisconsin

--- http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/31-9

Milwaukee http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/13-0

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Gerald Kerr 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Devin, good luck finding the quality of education recieved by your dad and granddad. Actually class size is much smaller now, down some 40% since 1960. Student to teacher ratio is much less. Administrative personnell much much greater now proportionately. In inflation adjusted dollars money spent per pupil on public education is much greater now than in your grand fathers day.

If you want better education for your kids look to home school or at least spend a few hours working with your kids at home work time. Have your kids read, read, read. If you can afford an inexpensive private school (some are quite reasonable or even free) try that.

Money does not determine quality of education- that data is clear. The giant educational bureaucracy is more of a hinderence to quality education than a servant.

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Devin Wilson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

My kids started school. I waited 3 years. I thought the problem was temporary. Sure the great recession was felt by most. But large class sizes persisted. 26-30 in some k-5 classes. I started asking questions. Digging deeper. Starting last spring. Until then I couldn't care less about the issues, dems, deps, libs, whatever. All roads point to the most limiting factor by far, lack of funding. The issue has made it all the way to the state supreme court. I've heard that teachers haven't had a raise in 5 years. It doesn't take an economist to figure out what is going on. I am fighting for my kids. They deserve the same quality Kansas education that I received, my Dad received, and my grandfather. This is not a partisan issue, it is a Kansas issue. I will be part of the solution. GAME ON.

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Gerald Kerr 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Wow. The drum continues to beat out the message for the sake of our children save our schools. Spend more money. Hire more teachers. Hire more administrators. Raise the mill levy. Hurry, hurry, faster and faster because it's for the children.

Yet since 1960 the average class size in America has fallen 40% and the number of public school teachers has risen 3.6 times faster than the student population. Get this, the number of public school administrators has risen more than 7 times faster than the student population. Since 1970 the number of non teaching staff in elementary and secondary education has increased 11 times faster than the student enrollment.

Federal spending on education adjusted for inflation has tripled since the 60's yet reading achievement is flat and knowledge of history and civics has cratered.

Follow the money. Public employees at the state level in the USA earn salary and benefits 46% greater than private sector counterparts, federal employees earn 57% more than there private sector counterparts.

No wonder the NEA gives more campaign contributions than ExonMobil, Microsoft, Walmart, and AFL-CIO combined.

Think about it. Follow the money. It's not just for the children. It's for the salaries, jobs, and benefits of the huge and growing Educational establishment.

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Bart Johnson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Public schools are where children's joy, creativity and curiosity go to die.

It's not more money for "education" or for children, it's more money for the endless numbers of do-nothing administrators and for teachers' unions.

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