Haste makes waste!! That is especially true when it comes to Kansas public schools.
On July 12, 2016, the State Board of Education took just 32 minutes to claim that $900 million more is needed to fund our schools. They were only given two figures to select from.
During the discussion, Board members clearly state that they have NO idea what it actually costs to teach Kansas students. So, there was nothing “reasonably calculated” about the nearly $1 billion increase which they and paid school lobbyists are demanding.
Then, House and Senate leaders waited until the last day of the 2018 legislative session to allow a vote on school funding. First, the House passed a bill by the smallest margin. It was then sent to the Senate where no amendments were permitted. At the final minute before midnight on that last day, the Senate barely passed this flawed bill with no idea how much more it will increase our taxes.
As a result, over the next six years, Kansas school administrators will receive $838.6 million more to spend. That is on top of over $3 billion more per year since 1998 in local, state and Federal tax dollars plus the $5.7 billion we are paying for them to build new classrooms and sports facilities.
Unfortunately, even with billions more being spent, test scores have not improved in 20 years. So, why should any Kansan be forced to pay more taxes to get the same poor results?
The facts are clear. Evidence from the National Center for Educational Statistics, ACT and State assessments all show that spending more has NOT and will NOT improve graduation rates or close the “achievement gap.” It will take fundamental changes to achieve these goals.
For example, the 21 course credits required to graduate are for students who want to go on to college. Yet, only 31 percent of Kansas high school graduates who take the ACT have a composite score high enough to succeed if they do enroll. The rest of our kids either drop out or receive a high school diploma with few employable skills to compete for jobs in the global economy.
So, clearly, spending more money is NOT the answer. Instead, the State Board needs to allow more career courses to count toward graduation. That will excite students. They will want to stay in school to learn job skills.
We must also stop blaming our teachers. They are NOT paid baby sitters. Parents must be responsible for their child’s behavior and encourage them to take learning seriously.
Too many students think it is cute to disrupt classes and disrespect our teachers. Other students cannot learn when their classrooms are in chaos.
We must put the focus back on learning practical, real-world knowledge and skills plus stop social promotions to the next grade level. These years our children spend in public schools are too precious to waste. It is time to tell the truth and stop repeating the myth that spending more tax dollars will improve how well our students learn.
Finally, it is the Legislature’s responsibility to make school funding decisions — not the Court’s.
For example, just this January, the Connecticut Supreme Court followed the Texas Supreme Court to end years of contentious school finance litigation. Chief justice Chase T. Rogers ruled that: “It is not the function of the courts to create educational policy or to attempt by judicial fiat to eliminate all of the societal deficiencies that continue to frustrate the state’s educational efforts.”
Dr. Walt Chappell President Educational Management Consultants, LLC