Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Amid election-year criticism on school funding, Brownback touts career and technical education

June 18, 2014

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— As the election-year debate over education funding heats up, Gov. Sam Brownback has been touring the state this week promoting the success of a program that targets funding to help high school students get career and technical education.

That program, launched in 2012, provides free tuition for high school students who enroll simultaneously in an approved post-secondary job-training program. It also provides $1,000 bonus payments to school districts for each student they graduate who has earned an industry-recognized certificate in a high-demand job field.

Gov. Sam Brownback speaks Wednesday at Manhattan Area Technical College about his career and technical education initiative. He also awarded a $23,000 check to the Manhattan school district, a reward under that program for the 23 students who graduated this year with industry-recognized certificates in a technical field.

Gov. Sam Brownback speaks Wednesday at Manhattan Area Technical College about his career and technical education initiative. He also awarded a $23,000 check to the Manhattan school district, a reward under that program for the 23 students who graduated this year with industry-recognized certificates in a technical field.

At a stop Wednesday at the Manhattan Area Technical College, Brownback presented a $23,000 bonus check to the Manhattan school district and touted the importance of the program.

"Those industry-recognized certifications get your foot in the door and they get you above minimum wage," Brownback said. "And you could make some real money with that."

The stop in Manhattan was just one of several the governor is making around the state this month. Overall, he said, the state expects to distribute $1.2 million in bonus payments to districts. He also said there has been a 200 percent increase in career and technical education enrollment since the program began.

Although the initiative enjoyed broad bipartisan support when it passed in 2012, it is unlikely to blunt criticism from Democrats who have made Brownback's record on overall education funding a centerpiece of their 2014 election campaigns.

Speaking to a gathering of Kansas Young Democrats last weekend, Rep. Paul Davis of Lawrence, the Democratic candidate challenging the governor for re-election, repeated his assertion that Brownback was responsible for the largest single cut in education funding in state history.

"Strong public schools and strong universities are the very foundation of a stronger economy," Davis said, according to a video of his speech that was posted online. "People are not going to continue to live in our state, or come to our state, if we are not supporting our public schools and our universities."

Since the start of the Great Recession in 2009, base state aid to Kansas schools was cut from $4,400 to a low of $3,780 in 2012. That included a $157 per-pupil cut between 2011 and 2012, when Congress ended the federal stimulus program that had been shoring up the education budget during the recession.

Although state revenues were recovering at that point and Democrats argued for using the money to replace the disappearing federal money, Brownback and the Republican-controlled Legislature opted to pass a package of massive tax cuts, which they argued would stimulate the economy.

"This Brownback experiment is a failure," Davis said. "There's no doubt about it."

Brownback, however, defended his record on school funding, arguing that despite cuts in base state aid, total state funding for public schools - including mandatory retirement contributions - has increased under his administration.

He also said that the career and technical education initiative marks an improvement in educational opportunities for students.

"I ran on saying we need more students to be career- and college-ready," he said. "And we've got a lot more that are going to be career-ready, and my hope is as well that we continue to improve that scale on those that are college-ready."

Comments

Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

This type of thinking is a perfect demonstration of how far out of touch Sam Brownback and ALEC are with real life. Real life with Sam Brownback is rubbing shoulders with high dollar people telling him what to do.

""Those industry-recognized certifications get your foot in the door and they get you above minimum wage," Brownback said. "And you could make some real money with that."

Another example of how far out of touch Brownback and ALEC are with real life and the job market.

In short Sam Brownback and ALEC have no idea what they are talking about. They are merely writing up talking points that cannot be supported with substantiation. Don't we all know this and empty political rhetoric?

Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

That check for $23,000 is a tool to distract voters from the millions upon millions upon millions
of tax dollars that Sam Brownback owes Kansas taxpayers for public school funding/education.

He is a walking talking fraud.

Philipp Wannemaker 1 year, 2 months ago

If tax cuts are not producing jobs, why are we spending tax money to train people for jobs that don't exist?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 2 months ago

Where are the schools going to get the money to implement these programs? I'm waiting for the revenue count for June. I'll bet schools are going to have to cut back on a lot of things.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 2 months ago

Public School Shakedown

he DeVos family led a ballot initiative that would have created a state education funding system that would provide taxpayer-funded vouchers that could be used at nonpublic schools. Despite having more than twice as much funding as the voucher opponents, $15.4 million to $7.2 million, the voucher initiative captured just 30.9 percent of the vote.

The DeVos family provided $5.75 million for the voucher campaign. Dick and Betsy DeVos gave $1.56 million. Dick’s parents, Rich and Helen, gave more than $2 million. Betsy’s mother, Elsa Prince, gave $2 million and Betsy’s brother, Erik Prince, gave $200,000.

Other major backers of the 2000 voucher campaign included the Catholic Church in Michigan, $3 million, and now-deceased Wal-Mart heir John Walton, who contributed $2 million.

Subsequent to the massive failure of the voucher campaign, Dick and Betsy DeVos adopted a PAC strategy to achieve their political goals. In Michigan, the Great Lakes Education Project was established in 2002 to support candidates who support education choice.

In the 2004 election cycle, All Children Matter was one of the biggest PACs in the nation, state or federal. It spent $8.2 million in at least ten states from Florida to Washington. Dick and Betsy DeVos gave the committee $375,000, but the big donors were Wal-Mart scions John and James Walton, who gave $3.2 million and $3.1 million, respectively.

In the 2006 cycle, All Children Matter spent $7.1 million in at least six states. The estate of John Walton gave $4.1 million. Betsy DeVos contributed $210,000. In 2007, All Children Matter dissolved as a Virginia state PAC, although it continues to file reports with the Internal Revenue Service as a 527 committee. Currently, historic records of 527s, including All Children Matter, are inaccessible from the IRS web site. ACM’s July 2013 report shows no financial activity.

In 2010, Betsy DeVos became chairwoman of American Federation for Children, and Greg Brock became the new 501(c)(4)’s executive director. It published a 2012 Election Impact Report stating that it spent $7 million in seven states. It does not report its donors, but the corporation’s web site says, “This organization traces its roots to the founders of the modern school choice movement, most notably the late John T. Walton, a visionary philanthropist and education reformer.”

[url]http://www.publicschoolshakedown.org/keeping-up-with-the-devos-family[/url]

Cheryl Nelsen 1 year, 2 months ago

What some people do not realize is that Brownback's touted program has caused some secondary schools to discontinue the programs they had in technical education. Why not fund public school programs? I'm supportive of such education for high school students, but I do not think Brownback nor legislators have a very clear view of what teenagers are like. Closing down tech ed programs at the secondary level gets rid of some teachers. Perhaps that is a part of the Brownback/Koch vision for Kansas?

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