Letters to the Editor

Letter: Education boosters

January 27, 2014


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.


Bart Johnson 4 years, 4 months 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.

Jeffrey Sykes 4 years, 4 months ago

I wonder if I should even reply to this message, but money does matter. Class sizes throughout the state have been increasing. If you wonder if money matters, put 29 kids in a second grade classroom that includes kids with special needs and see what happens. My child was in such a class a year ago. They wouldn't add another section of second grade because that was inside the allowable norms and they didn't have money to do what was in the best interest of the students.

Money for schools isn't just for the teacher's unions. It isn't for do-nothing administrators. It allows schools to be places where curiosity is nurtured and learning can be a joy. If funding for schools continues to decline and if the needs of students continue to increase while the state does nothing about it then what kind of state will we have?

We will have a state where children of parents with means have a proper education and the rest of the population is left with a sub-standard education. That is a recipe for economic stagnation and a labor force that businesses will actively avoid.

David Reber 4 years, 4 months ago

Teacher's unions don't get a dime of the public funds invested in public education. Zero dollars. As in "none".

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months 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.

Jeffrey Sykes 4 years, 4 months ago

Out of curosity, where are you getting your statistics?

Julius Nolan 4 years, 4 months ago

Sounds like Fox News is source, or some Koch-ALEC source.

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months ago

Google student to teacher and administrator ratios from 1960. Google BLS data july 2013 regarding relationship of public sector to private sector compensation.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 4 months ago

"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 their Private sector Counterparts" I hear this alot but I have not seen proof of it, especially here in Kansas. KU Just spent 2 years and several million Dollars for Market Studies to hopefully bring their employees wages CLOSER to private Sector wages. They admit they cannot pay what Private sector employers pay and they are having a hard time attracting Qualified Applicants that will work for Less than Private sector. So, I ask you also: Where are you getting your statistics? Private sector makes more than Public sector Here in Kansas. Ask Any one who works Skilled Trades(HVAC, Plumber, Electrician, Mechanic,etc) for KU or the State of Kansas.

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months ago

Google Bureau of Labor study published twice in past 3 years or so. Most recent government (bls) data I think July 2013. Man just look it up. I don't have the figures for Kansas and doubt anyone does. I know that private school teachers in our county work for fraction of their public school counterparts. The administrators differential compensation package is even greater. On the Fed side in Kansas V.A. nurses do much better in salary and benefits than their community hospital counterparts.

Look up the data.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 4 months ago

I looked up the data. You are being too general when you say state and Federal Employees make way more than Private sector. It only applies to a few Job descriptions(Administrative and Upper management Mainly) that are above private sector. That only accounts for a small Portion of total State and Federal Jobs. As for a private School teacher making less than a public school teacher: why is it that Private schools don't pay their teachers more since they charge more for tuition($9848 a year per student state spending versus $13,000 tuition at a local Lawrence Private school) than Public? Also, should we pay public Fire and Police personnel more or Less than Private Fire and Police Personnel? Do You see why that argument is not an argument at all?

Devin Wilson 4 years, 4 months 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.

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months 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.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months 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

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months 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.

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months 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?

Cille King 4 years, 4 months ago

Does that $36,000 paid to private schools include "sisters" who teach and are not paid a paycheck?

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months ago

I don't know. Very few teaching sisters left in USA- rare as hens teeth. All sisters are paid enough to sustain their food, housing, medicare, FICA, retirement, miscellaneous expenses, etc.. The few who are left are not the bargain they used to be. Maybe we should all pray for many new religious vocations.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 4 months ago

Vouchers is a "dirty word in public education circles" because it is a way to get Public Education Funds to Pay for Private Education. If Public Funds go to Private Education, it ceases to be Private! Public Education is for All. Since some Private Schools are Religious, that violates Separation of Church and State Precedents. It is your right to take advantage of Public school, or, if you are so inclined, you can decide a Private school is Best for your Child. If that is the case, then That costs You! That IS The Difference between Public and Private Education. This is America. You are Free to make that choice.

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months 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.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 4 months ago

Vouchers channel public Money to Private institutions. That is unconstitutional, thus it is illegal to fund therm with Public Money. That is the Law. Some people are trying to change that law. The problem is that changing the law will only benefit a few. To change a law, it must be shown that the change will benefit all. That has not been proven here, Sorry. I do not see that changing any time soon. Public school will always be available to the public and Private School will always be available to those who decide Public School is not in their children's best interest.Hope you can afford the tuition. Good Luck.

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months 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?

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 4 months ago

Thanks Barbara. Just another"Inconvenient truth" that They just don't seem to get.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 4 months 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.

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months 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.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 4 months ago

I am sorry but what is it about the Difference between Public and Private that YOU Do Not Get? For some reason, you believe there is, or should be ,no difference. You are mistaken if that is your assumption. The Concept is quite simple. And, as Barbara said,Vouchers are Public money that will come with Strings attached. Your private school will cease to be private when Regulations are imposed in order to receive Vouchers. An unintended consequence? Maybe.A consequence none the less.FYI: My Grandchildren are being homeschooled in a curriculum of Lauaguages, Arts, Music, Literature, Math and the Sciences. It was my daughter and Son in law's idea and they are both Master's degree holders.Notice I did not mention Religion. Each child is given that choice as they ask questions and seek answers. All Information is available to them. They Choose what to learn and at their own pace. That is intellectual Freedom. I am very proud to watch them grow and learn to think and reason as an individual at a very early age. This ia a goal we all should strive for. They are our Future.

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months ago

Thomas, the fact your son and daughter home school your grandchildren speaks volumes. Families have limited resources to educate their children. Public education consumes by far the lions share in the myriads of taxes and fees and assessments used to support Public schools. Public schools should be supported by all citizens. Public schools must not consume so much of a families resources that families cannot afford private education option choices for their children. Thomas, if tax dollars paid by your daughters family are increased perhaps both parents would have to work full time to pay them as is already the case for so many families and thus no parent is able to home school the children.

The upshot is Public School costs are already too high to maintain. Costs must be reduced. Parents must be allowed some say in the the allocation of family income and resources available for educating their children. Public schools presently monopolize those resources even as they restrict and polarize their curricula.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 4 months ago

What we have found through our experience with 4 grandchildren is that no one type of education(Public ,Private, Home school) is Perfect. Actually a combination of All has worked out Quite well. Some Montessori method at the very beginning sets the habits for independent learning that is a big part of Home schooling. Having Parents that Rotate teaching at a University sees to it that a Parent is always there. A writing Scholarship earned my oldest Grand child a trip to Europe to stay with a host family and attend Public school there for a Full semester. The Social aspect of public school is a plus. Our oldest now attends a Local High school half days and has a part time job. Getting her college entrance exams done and saving money for College are the priority now. I am proud of her. This System of Education we have is not perfect, but it IS what you make it.

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months 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.

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months 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.

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months 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.

Gerald Kerr 4 years, 4 months 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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