Archive for Friday, January 5, 2018

Your Turn: Adequate funding of state’s public schools is a crucial investment

January 5, 2018

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It has often been noted that Kansas doesn’t have mountains or an ocean coastline, but what Kansas does have are strong public schools. And our quality schools didn’t happen by accident.

Since the founding of our state, generations of Kansans have committed their work and taxes to funding schools, knowing that education was an investment; a crucial factor to help their children lead successful and rewarding lives.

A quality public school education will be even more important in the future as the global economy becomes more competitive. A high school diploma plus post-secondary training will be required for most jobs to earn a middle-class salary. This is why the current debate over school funding is so important.

Over the past several decades, the education level of Kansas students has steadily increased as the investment trend in public school funding in Kansas grew slightly more than the rate of inflation.

But that funding trend stopped in 2009 and so did that trend of improving student achievement.

Since 2009, total funding per pupil has fallen more than $700 million behind inflation through 2017. Between 2010 and 2017, average teacher salaries when adjusted for inflation decreased nearly 8 percent. Kansans are investing a lower percentage of personal income in K-12 education than they have for more than 25 years.

Not surprisingly, Kansas student achievement is struggling. State assessment scores, which had been rising through 2012, are now falling. Reductions have also been seen in national assessments and the ACT. Kansas’ high school graduation rate is better than the national average, but other states are improving faster and catching up to Kansas in the percentage of students going on to higher education.

The Kansas Supreme Court recently concluded the current school finance system isn’t adequate for our students as is required by the Kansas Constitution. The court said we need to do better.

We agree.

Here’s why: Previous cost studies, analyses of Kansas funding trends and comparisons with other states show that Kansas public schools are underfunded by many hundreds of millions of dollars. By the way, certain groups who oppose public schools say Kansas schools spend too much and achieve too little. Just the opposite is true. Kansas ranks 10th in the nation across a wide spectrum of student measures and spends 31st in per-pupil funding. Every state that ranks ahead of Kansas in achievement, spends more. By this measure, Kansas public schools are the most efficient in the country.

But aside from that, we know that educational achievement is key to increasing personal income, reducing poverty and reducing the cost of social services. This current situation of underfunding Kansas schools threatens the future of our children, grandchildren and our state. We at the Kansas Association of School Boards, which represents schools across the state, have issued a detailed statement about the Kansas Supreme Court decision on school funding and what we think should happen. You can read it by going to https://kasb.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Statement-on-Gannon-Response.pdf. We encourage all Kansans to stay abreast of developments on this issue and to seek out information from their local school board members.

Kansas is trying to climb out of a deep hole caused by the Great Recession and tax changes that drastically reduced revenue available for schools, public safety, social services, highways, health care and other functions of government that Kansans need.

During the last legislative session, a majority of legislators made the courageous decision to reverse those harmful tax policies. We applaud them for doing that. More tough policy decisions will be necessary during the 2018 legislative session that starts in January.

But Kansans are accustomed to making difficult choices. Just as past generations invested in our education, we owe it to the children currently in school and future generations to adequately fund public schools. It is an investment in ourselves and in Kansas.

— Dayna Miller, of Basehor-Linwood USD 458, is president of the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Comments

Louis Kannen 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Kansas Public Education naysayers, you've just been put on real-time, up to date Notice. And speaking of which, big time Appreciation for Dayna Miller's spot-on, lucid assessment of this issue that affects every single resident of your State. Time to extricate your Cranial Appendages from your Southern-most Ductwork's...

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Oh Louis, now Brownback tea party supporters are going to have to find a dictionary. Oh wait, there's always Google.

Bob Summers 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes. Nothing like maintaining the status quo.

Spend the most in the world so that American students cannot break the worldwide top twenty in Reading, science and math proficiencies.

Rock on government inculcation.

Ken Lassman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

For Kansas, maintaining the status quo is not at all a bad thing to do: to provide a top ten education for the least amount of per-pupil spending of any state of the country is a status well worth quoing.

Louis Kannen 5 months, 2 weeks ago

It would appear 'someone' with the profoundly expressed initials, 'BS', has possibly 'inoculated' himself into a delusional mass of mumble-essenced, misguided nonsense when it comes to the 'inculcation' of your students. Never mind contributing anything of substance regards realistic, sensible solutions if and where needed. Oh, the pure unadulterated 'BS' of it all...

Bob Smith 5 months, 2 weeks ago

'Overuse' of 'scare' 'quotes'! Five 'yard' penalty 'and' loss of 'a' down.

Bob Summers 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I have another vote for status quo.

Thank you 'LK'.

Any others?

Steve King 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Ouch Louis, that's going to leave a mark. Well done.

Josh Berg 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I stopped reading when she talked about how funding is not adequate per the KS Constitution. You would think someone in her position would know that it says suitable provisions and nowhere is adequate mentioned.

Ken Lassman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Then I suggest you get over your little semantic tiff and read the rest: you might actually learn something about how "suitable provisions" have been "inadequately" maintained.

Josh Berg 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Fact still is Ken that inadequate or adequate are not in the KS Constitution. If these words do not lie in that document then the KS Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction. These schools are building new facilities and staffing them with expensive equipment. A school in Kansas City just built a brand new aquatics center. There is an 87 million dollar bond that is being implemented here in Lawrence to upgrade and update the secondary schools. Now please tell me how all of that equates to "inadequate". Truth is that when you argue "suitable provisions" then that argument falls flat because it is easy to see that the schools certainly have suitable funding. They just complain because they want more money.

Ken Lassman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

You're not addressing the facts laid out by the president of the KS Association of School Bars, which, contrary to your anecdotal examples, states that Kansans get more bang for their buck than any other state if you look at all of the top 10 states per-pupil expenditures. You are also not addressing the stats that student performance has been slipping with reduced allocations. I think that the courts indeed have a place at the table in determing what is being suitably provided, and using relevant stats like these is one valid way to determine that.

Josh Berg 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Why would I listen to the Ks Association of School Boards? They never have and never will say that money is adequate no matter how much our taxes rise to pay for it. Their whole job and whole existence is based on getting more money for the schools. Throwing more money at the schools is not the fix either. Do you really think the gender neutral bathrooms at LHS are going to account for a spike in grades? Let's face it, the money is not being spent on the teachers, the ones who actually teach the kids. I know several people who were great teachers but left because the money was coming in but they never saw a dime of it.

By my count, our local school district has raised administrative salaries by nearly 300 K and yet the kids have to fend for themselves with sporting equipment and field trips. So keep listening to your garbage from the KS Assoc. of School Boards but then do not come crying to me when more money is thrown into the system to see the same results.

Ken Lassman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Why would I ever listen to you? At least the KASB is talking real numbers which show that Kansans are getting a great return on those state dollars but achievement has been slipping since we've started to cut back. You fail to even acknowledge this argument or show why those numbers are somehow misleading or incorrect. So don't expect anyone to listen to your little cherry picked anecdotes as real reasons not to properly fund our public schools.

Josh Berg 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I don’t acknowledge because you keep skirting my point as well. My point is that the schools have money and are properly funded. Until you get off that notion then I have nothing more to talk about with you Ken

Ken Lassman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

How do you come up with the conclusion that schools are properly funded when recent cuts have caused a decline in ACT scores and national assessments for Kansas students as well as better increases in other states than Kansas regarding graduation rates? These seem to be relevant measures to m that's how I got "that notion." What criteria are you using for your "notion" that everything's going hunky dory besides the anecdotal cherry picks you seem to be obsessing on? Have you read the report provided? What's wrong with their analysis? Show me the beef, Josh.

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