Frisky Flunkies in Atchison County


From Karl Peterjohn, Kansas Taxpayers Network

The Wall Street Journal’s “Tony & Tacky” section mentioned one Kansas school district on the day the Kansas senate was debating the largest one-year state spending hike for public schools in this century and according to one legislator, in state history. The $127 million increase in state spending would be in addition to the current $2.7 billion the state is already spending. School districts in Kansas are already spending millions of dollars to lobby the legislature, promote student and school employee contacts to try and influence legislators, and sue the state over school finance. School superintendents, like Wichita’s tax ‘n spend Winston Brooks, have been busy at speaking appearances promoting public school spending growth in excess of $1.4 billion.

In the 1980’s the Kansas City, Missouri schools spent well over a $1 billion proving that throwing tax money at the public schools did not improve student achievement or educational quality. This school district, which has an pupil enrollment similar to Wichita’s, spent all this money and still saw student test scores dropped.

A wise philosopher warned, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Kansas is continuing to try and emulate the Kansas City, Missouri public schools spending policy.

Kansas spending for public schools that includes all state, local, and federal tax funds has far exceeded inflation during the last dozen years and now tops $4 billion (KTN has posted at school KS Department of Education finance data on all Kansas public schools from the late 1980’s through the 2003-04 school year). There are slightly less than 445,000 public school students in Kansas. The brief article cited below from today’s Wall Street Journal provides some clues as to more important educational problems than simply throwing taxpayers’ money at the schools and hoping that some of it sticks. Let’s hope that Kansas follows Atchison High School’s policy instead of Atchison County’s D- plan.

The Wall Street Journal said:

Tony & Tacky

Friday, March 25, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST
FRISKY FLUNKIES: Right now, students in Atchison County, Kan., need a C average in order to participate in extracurricular activities. As of next year, however, even a D-minus average will be good enough. A district school board in northeastern Kansas voted last week to lower its threshold after asserting that efforts to determine eligibility under the C rule were distracting teachers from their job of helping pupils learn. Not everyone is buying that argument. Terrance Jordan, the principal and sports director of Atchison High School–which, despite its name, is in a different district–told the March 16 Atchison Daily Globe that his school is considering stricter guidelines: “We’re here to educate kids; extracurricular activities are a bonus. . . . Kids have to be able to do what they’re asked to do before they can play.”


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