KNEA call for action overstates case, misleads Kansans

Today’s edition of Under the Dome Today contains a call for action.

This newsletter is the update of legislative action provided by KNEA, the Kansas National Education Association. For those of you who might think that an organization with such a lofty name is dedicated to the betterment of the education of Kansas schoolchildren, I must remind you that KNEA is the teachers union. Sorry about that.

KNEA’s call for action is this:

“It is critical now that you contact your Representative — especially Republicans. Let them know that cuts of 4.75 per cent will cause serious damage to student learning, cause districts to raise student fees and limit student programs, jeopardize all non-tested programs including foreign languages, art, and music. The state simply must not turn its back on this whole generation of Kansas children and abandon completely the progress made since the settlement of the school finance lawsuit.”

A few points:

The 4.75% reduction in funding is calculated considering only the state’s portion of the total funding of school districts. For USD 259, the Wichita public school district, state funding provided 62.7% of all the money this district spent. (2007-2008 school year, according to the Kansas State Department of Education.)

So the reduction in total school spending, at least in the Wichita district, is quite a bit less than what the KNEA wants you to believe.

The context of this cut bears mentioning, too. Spending on schools in Kansas in recent years has been increasing rapidly. So rapidly that school apologists either don’t know, or don’t want to admit, just how much schools have to spend. This was demonstrated by Rep. Melody McCray-Miller at a recent legislative forum in Wichita. Wichita board of education member Lanora Nolan disputed these same figures at a Wichita Pachyderm Club meeting.

How fast has Kansas school spending been increasing? Real fast. The charts at the end of this article illustrate.

No doubt these cuts will force school districts to cut back. I think that thinking Kansas will agree, however, that schools — if they really want to — will be able to manage the cuts in ways that don’t harm their core mission.

Kansas school spending per pupil outpaces inflation

Kansas school state aid per pupil outpaces inflation

2 Comments

  • I live in a glass house being a 20 year educator and current instructor at a community college. But as a “thinking” Kansan I agree that core missions in education can be met even with the cuts proposed.
    In fact it is healthy to prune back a plant in order to set up healthy future growth. And if revenue to government coffers is of such importance, legislators should get off the balancing scale mindset and push for tax reform to attract businesses back to Kansas. And the plan for that was recently endorsed in Missouri by the House. The Fairtax model, adapted to the state-level, was passed out of the House and sent to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. At that level it stalled as well-paid lobbyits planted fear in the hearts of a few Senators. But rest assured it will return next session and Kansas would do well to mirror that action and get it on the ballot for 2010. You want to fund essential government programs? Pass the Fairtax plan and stand back!

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