At a meeting of the South-Central Kansas Legislative Delegation today, it was apparent that facts are either not known — or not important — to public school spending advocates.
The audience for today’s meeting was, apparently, heavily stocked with teachers who were eager to voice approval or displeasure with statements made by either the public speakers or the legislators. At one time the teachers drew a reprimand from Representative Nile Dillmore.
Wow. Rep. Dillmore reprimands teachers in the audience for their rude behavior. #ksleg
— Bob Weeks (@bob_weeks) March 2, 2013
Here’s what Kansas should learn from this meeting — something important that affects actual public policy: We can’t have an honest discussion of school finance unless we recognize and agree on some facts such as the current level of spending. The teachers in today’s audience either don’t know the facts, or don’t want to talk about them.
In the nearby audio clip, Representative Gene Suellentrop told the audience the spending figures for USD 259, the Wichita public school district. According to figures available from the Kansas State Department of Education, he was correct to the dollar. The audience reacted with jeers.
So we’re left wondering this: Do Kansas schoolteachers know the correct level of school spending? Or do they know, but don’t believe it? Or do they know, but don’t want to talk about it?
This is particularly troubling for Kansas, as the public school bureaucracy insists on more school spending. But talking about actual school spending is somehow uncouth and deserves to be shouted down.
Newspaper editorial boards aren’t helping Kansans learn about school spending and student achievement. Surveys find that like the general public across the nation, Kansans are uninformed on school spending.
This is the uncomfortable condition of public discourse in Kansas. We are lacking in knowledge and facts. Even worse, we’ve taken something that ought to be noncontroversial (the education of children) and turned it into a shouting match. This is what we get by turning over important things to politics.