This site is mostly dark

While this site has been around for a while, its season for being frequently updated has passed. While there may be some updates from time to time, I’m offering no guarantees.

If you’re interested in education in Kansas and would like to contribute material to this site, please leave a comment and I might get back with you.

For more related to education in Kansas, see the Kansas Policy Institute.

(Bumped to the top of the page)

Progressives against homeschooling

How significant is homeschooling? Consider this, from Kevin D. Williamson at National Review Online:

“by the simple act of instructing their children at home, [homeschoolers] pose an intellectual, moral, and political challenge to the government-monopoly schools, which are one of our most fundamental institutions and one of our most dysfunctional.”

The article describes how homeschooling has evolved from its roots in the hippie counterculture to being an important part of conservative and evangelical life.

It also mentions, accidentally, one objection to school choice of all forms. Speaking of one scholar, the author says,

“She went on to argue that the children of high-achieving parents amount to public goods because of peer effects — poor students do better when mixed with better-off peers — meaning that ‘when college-educated parents pull their kids out of public schools, whether for private school or homeschooling, they make it harder for less-advantaged children to thrive.’”

You’ll read words to this effect not only in a conservative publication such as NRO, but in Education Week, the industry publication of K-12 education. To be sure, human are social creatures, and we do respond to those around us. But limiting a child’s educational options in the name of saving the system is morally offensive.

 

Take a lesson from Wisconsin

So it looks like Gov. Scott Walker won’t be thrown out of office for getting the state out of business of collecting dues for the teachers union. Good.

Now that the political season is over (for a month or so!), the rest of the nation, including Kansas, ought to see what lessons it can draw. Here’s one: changing the rules concerning contracts and the business affairs of schools can keep teachers in the classroom. For example, districts have saved money by being able to shop for health insurance plans, rather than be the captive of the plans offered by the teachers union. As a result of the savings, they may in some cases not have to lay off teachers, which of course would mean larger classes–something that unions typically rail against. Here’s one story, admittedly from a pro-Walker source, that gives examples of cost savings.

Kansas, for its part, is enduring yet another legal challenge from school districts that want more money. Of course, who can blame them? If your boss offers you a raise, would you say, “Nah, I don’t need the money. You keep it?”

District administrators and teachers both face mandates from other people (the state school board, the Legislature, Congress). If they fail to comply with the requirements of No Child Left Behind–and compliance is at least partially out of their hands–they will be subject to disruptions to their business and professional lives. So of course, they’d like more money — from taxpayers. The Legislature hasn’t been as forthcoming as they’d like, so they turn to the courts.

But this move is all predicted on the assumption that there’s no room for cost-cutting or efficiencies–a heroic assumption, I believe.

Ending last in, first out (LIFO) employment practices, tenure, or the union scale may be all good things, and could save money. So could cutting through the red tape that entangles principals and teachers alike. But it won’t guarantee that all students will end up as “proficient” as defined by a standardized test. It’s foolish to think that any amount of money will guarantee any academic result. The best we can do is to make sure we spent money on education in the least bureaucratic way possible. Having the courts resolve a dispute between the Legislature and the education establishment won’t get us there.

 

Not so great after all

Kansans often think that their public schools do well on national tests. And they do–but only if we’re grading on a curve.

For more, see a recent press release from the Kansas Policy Institute.

Report nicks Kansas for lack of AP opportunities

If you’re a child in a poor family, where would you rather live–Kansas or Florida?

Historically, Kansas has had a good reputation for its education system, and Florida hasn’t. But the Sunshine State has caught up to and has surpassed Kansas in some measures.

Here’s what the online newspaper ProPublica had to say:

“Our analysis identifies several states that, like Florida, have leveled the field and now offer rich and poor students roughly equal access to high-level courses.

In Kansas, Maryland and Oklahoma, by contrast, such opportunities are far less available in districts with poorer families.”

The article focuses on student access to and enrollment in AP classes. Of all the states, Kansas gets an especially negative treatment. Officials at KSDE suggest in response that some children are simply not interested in a liberal-arts education–a fair point as far as it goes.

The article quotes Alan Rupe (of Montoy lawsuit fame), who calls for even more funding for schools that enroll a large number of poor students. I propose something different: How about letting those students take their public support to the school of their choice?

The article contains one clunker, claiming that Florida scores below the national average on standardized tests. It points to grade 12 tests. But it scores above the national average on fourth-grade math and reading and eighth-grade reading. I’m not sure, though, whether those differences are statistically significant–but it’s clear that Florida is not “below” the national average anymore.

School choice on the move, though not in Kansas

School choice is on the move, according to the American Federation of Children. The pro-school choice group cites developments in 11 states during the first six months of this year. The states are: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wisconsin. (Where’s Kansas?) The actions included:

- Removing caps on the number of charter schools

- Creation of education savings accounts

- Creation of new voucher programs

- Expansion of existing voucher programs

- Expansion of tax-credit programs for education

Students benefit from Voucher Programs

Writing for the Foundation for Education Choice, Jeff Reed explains the benefits of school choice in a letter to the Johnson County Sun.

“Nine of the 10 “gold standard” studies examining voucher programs concluded that some or all participants benefited academically. One found no difference. As for public schools, 18 of 19 empirical studies showed vouchers impacted them positively, with one reporting no effect. No empirical analysis has discovered negative effects from vouchers.”

All that is good for an advocate of school choice. On the other hand, school choice has a moral dimension, too: It lets the poor have the options that people of means currently have. It also promotes the tailoring of an education to the learning style and personality of each student. Though if I were philosopher-king, I would establish some sort of tax-credit mechanism rather than vouchers.

A contrary view on the Common Core Standards Initiative

One education reform that most people haven’t heard of is the Common Core Standards Initiative. It’s the latest attempt to improve the educational performance of the nation’s students by establishing legal/administrative expectations of what students learn. In brief, it’s a set of school standards that are coordinated through the National Governors Association, and adopted on a state-by-state basis. Critics argue that this will result in back-door nationalization of what has traditionally been a state-level question.

School Reform News has a short article about the controversy, quoting both sides. Opponents have created a counter-manifesto, titled “Closing the Doors on Innovation.” I’m one of the signatories. You can add your name, too.

Two New Resources

If you’re interested in education in Kansas, here are some websites you should check out:

Kansas Open Gov takes information from the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) and transforms it into an easy to understand, sortable format. You can look at district revenues and spending per pupil, as well as district checkbooks, cash balances, and other financial information. You can also compare one district to another.

Kansas Open Gov also has achievement data, for both the state  (NAEP) and districts (state assessments).

Why Not Kansas is all about school choice–tax credits, charter schools, vouchers, what have you. It has news on the latest developments in school choice programs and laws across the nation, as well as the basics about various forms of school choice.

Selecting members of the Kansas Supreme Court

One fallout of the Montoy decision has focused attention on the fact that the selection of members to the Kansas Supreme Court is a secret process without any public input. Dr. Stephen J. Ware of the University of Kansas talks about the judicial selection process in this short video.

Kansas Education Spending 1969-2007

If Kansas doubles the amount of money it spends on schools, will that be enough?

This afternoon I’ve been looking through the Digest of Education Statistics, a massive report compiled by the U.S. Department of Education. It’s a compilation of information from across the country, so it’s useful for making comparisons across the states.

You can also use the book to detect trends over time. The information isn’t as current as state reports, but that’s because it takes a while for all the data from 50 states to trickle in.

Even so, here’s one way of looking at spending by Kansas schools. It’s of “current expenditures,” which is to say that it doesn’t include capital costs (money spent on building construction). So it actually underestimates public investment in public schools. The numbers are, though, adjusted for inflation (the CPI) and per-pupil attendance.

YEAR and PER-PUPIL spending (Table 185)

1970 … $3,916

1980 … $5,353

1990 … $7,152

2000 .. $7,870

2007 ..  $9,585

That’s a 244 percent increase.

A 244-percent per-pupil increase.

A 244-percent, adjusted-for-inflation increase.

A 244-percent, adjusted-for-inflation increase that doesn’t include money spent on capital expenses.

 

Sue your way to … high spending levels

Kansas is developing a new tradition: School districts suing the people, through the Legislature.

The website Kansas Reporter (affiliated, as I am, with the Kansas Policy Institute) has taken note of recent developments. About 60 school districts, or better than 20 percent of all districts in the state–have filed suit. Again. They want another $323 million they say they’re due through past court rulings. Unfortunately for the cause of good government, the rulings are past on one some scholars call the alchemy of “funding adequacy” research. In brief, the districts have (successfully) sold the courts on the idea that there’s a “scientific” method of determining the amount of money required to provide a “suitable” education. To the contrary, though, such decisions are inherently subjective, political, and properly a subject for the Legislature, not the courts.

A follow-up article tells about the members of a 3-judge panel that will hear the lawsuit.

Colorado district considers multiple options for funding education

The Douglas County school board in south suburban Denver is contemplating something very unusual–letting children take a portion of the funds the district collects to any school of their choice, even private schools. The Denver Post offers some information, as does Ed is Watching. Under a proposed “Option Certificate Program,” parents could take 75 percent of the money the state gives the  district and spend it on tuition at a private school.

Much is made of the fact that this money could be spent at religious schools. Critics say this is simply a way for residents to spend taxpayer money on religious schools; advocates say it’s a way of offering families more options.

I believe the advocates are right, but the point deserves some elaboration. First, what matters is whether children have the opportunity to learn, not the name of the school they attend. Too often, we confuse the terms “public education” and “public schools.” “Public education” means … the education of the public. By contrast, “public schools” — schools owned and run by units of government — are one of several means towards that end. Home schooling, private schools, public charter schools, and public school districts–all of them–offer public education.

Isn’t there a “separation of church and state” argument? Not really. The U.S.  Supreme Court has ruled that public money for the education of children can be spent on religious schools as long as it’s the parents who do the choosing, and children are not coerced into attending a religious school. (See Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 2002.) Do such programs violate state constitutions? Some state courts (though none in Kansas that I know of) have said no as well, following a similar reasoning that the U.S. Supreme Court used in Zelman.

But if that possibility still troubles you, ask this yourself this: why are so many private schools religious ones? Here’s one answer: As a parent, you’re probably already paying taxes to support a school district to which you can by law send your child. What’s going to motivate you to pay tuition on top of that? Religious faith is one compelling reason, and probably the most commonly used one.

Let parents take some of the money spent on behalf of their child to a private school, and you’ve expanded the range of choices for those parents. Isn’t that a good thing? Most Americans like having more choices rather than fewer.

One very interesting element of this proposal for your policy nerds out there. These sorts of efforts, where they have been enacted at all (Cleveland, Milwaukee, and a few other places) have been implemented by state politicians. This idea, by contrast, is an effort by some local officials to shake things up.

Good for them. The traditional public school can’t be all things to all people. Parents need more options.

Stop “Waiting for Superman,” Act Now

Earlier this week, the Daily Caller published an op-ed I wrote about the movie Waiting for Superman. You can read the op-ed here. It’s much too short to give the movie its due. Go see it if you can. Check out the movie’s website for options, though beware that the site seems to be out of date in its listings.  TODAY is the last day it is running at the Warren East theater in Wichita.

The janitor with a Ph.D.

There are 5,057 janitors with a doctorate or professional degree, according to Richard Vedder, who writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Personally, I’m suspicious that the number inflated, though I agree with Vedder’ larger point, which is that we have a mismatch between public needs and our public approach to higher education.

“All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree.” These jobs include parking lot attendant, wait staff, and bartenders.

For more fun, take a look at this chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Vedder concedes that the experience of going to college has value, but then asks whether that justifies the public investment. Good question.

By the way, be sure to read the comments attached to the article. Some make valuable points. Some, like the one below, border on parody:

Just imagine what our democracy might be like if truck drivers read Sartre, or if restaurant servers studied astronomy, or if garbage collectors debated the newest trends in evolutionary biology, or if housewives and machine operators read and discussed New Historicist literary theory.

I’m as interested in New Historicist literary theory (whatever that is) as the next person, and there’s no problem with mechanics holding advanced degrees in philosophy–as long as said people have paid for the costs of their education. But higher education involves a variety of subsidies, meaning that it’s entirely valid to question how tax dollars are being spent.

Dismissing poor teachers is not “anti-teacher”

Eric A. Hanushek, whose research into the effects of teachers on student learning was featured in the movie Waiting for Superman, disputes the argument that efforts to make it possible to remove the worst teacher from our nation’s schools is somehow anti-teacher. He recently did so in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal.

The article is behind a paywall, but here are some key points he makes:

  • “No longer is education reform an issue of liberals vs. conservatives.” Good for children, and for our future.
  • “All sides” now accept the idea that teacher effectiveness is key to student learning.
  • “The typical teacher is both hard-working and effective. But if we could replace the bottom 5%-10% of teachers with an average teacher—not a superstar—we could dramatically improve student achievement. The U.S. could move from below average in international comparisons to near the top.”

By the way, you don’t have to be anti-union to want to change personnel rules in public schools. Consider the group Put Kid First Minneapolis.

  1. First, the credential of the people behind the group:
  2. They believe that teacher unions are good and necessary: “If you want to bust unions, find a different group. We believe unions can create a more just and equal world. In our perfect world, teachers would make more than lawyers and bankers, and, to achieve that, we’ll need collective bargaining.
  3. “We support teacher tenure as a form of due process.” See the link above.
  4. “We’re agnostic on merit pay.”
  5. “We oppose vouchers for a whole host of constitutional and good government reasons.”

So they’re not the kind of people who want to bust unions, implement a voucher program, implement merit pay, or eliminate tenure.

But they do see a need for changes:

  1. “We do not support teacher tenure as a life-time job guarantee, regardless of performance or what students need.”
  2. “Allow school leadership teams (the principals, plus teacher and parent representatives) the freedom to hire and retain the most dynamic, talented, licensed teachers they can find, regardless of seniority or whether those candidates currently work for the district.”
  3. Use value-added tests, classroom observations, and parent/student surveys to evaluate teachers, recognize good ones, and remove poor ones.
  4. Use hiring freedom (the second point) to let schools take race and ethnicity into account when hiring teachers. I’m not comfortable with this, though I can see their point.

The development of the group Put Kids First Minneapolis is evidence that Hanushek is right. Giving principals authority to hire and fire teachers–and then holding them accountable–is not the only shake-up that public schools receive. But it’s an essential element, without which we’ll be denying many children the right to a high-quality education.

Change the charter school law to give students more options: A lesson from Virginia

Earlier this year, the Washington Post ran an editorial about charter school legislation in the Commonwealth in Virginia. The situation sounds fairly similar to what’s going on in Kansas. The Post has it right: If you wish to see more options available to students, expand the number of authorizers.

Here’s an excerpt:

WITHIN HOURS of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s announcement that he wants the state to be more welcoming to charter schools, there was expected pushback from critics who say Virginia already has some of the best schools in the country. They’re right — but that’s no reason to limit school innovation or to deny parents options for their children. Mr. McDonnell’s ambitious goals make sense for Virginia students, and the General Assembly should support them.

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Mr. McDonnell (R) unveiled a proposal last week that would, as The Post’s Anita Kumar reported, expand the number of charter schools by reforming the way the publicly funded but privately run schools are authorized. Currently, the power resides solely with local school boards, and because they see charters as competition they generally oppose them. The result is that Virginia has only three charters, as compared, for instance, with 58 in the District of Columbia.

As far as I know, Gov. McDonnell has not yet gotten his wish. But give him credit for making a proposal.

KU gets federal grant for testing project

The Center for Education Testing and Evaluation at KU will get $22 million to come up with another means of testing students.

According to the Kansas City Star, “The lead researcher behind the program said he hopes the work will someday transform how public schools test the progress of all students.” It will start out, however, as a program for special-education students.

In addition, says the Star, “Eleven states, including Missouri and Kansas, plan to use the new assessment tool system to gauge how well special education students are learning. Rather than a single test at the end of the year, the system will evaluate how well a student is learning throughout the school year.”

This could be useful, but I’m not sure why there needs to be yet another testing scheme developed. This sounds on the surface like another form of value-added assessment. There are already several such assessments in place, though perhaps the one that KU will develop will be significantly different in some way.

An alternative to universal, standardized testing

Many people in the education industry scoff at the idea of using standardized tests. They say:

  • Schools overuse standardized, multiple-choice tests.
  • Teaching to the test provides children a student education, limited to what’s on the test.
  • Teachers prepare students for standardized tests in ways that short-circuit the development of their critical-thinking abilities.
  • We should use other assessments such as long-form answers, research projects, and work portfolios.
  • Nobody outside the classroom teacher knows how to assess children.
  • George W. Bush, who gave us No Child Left Behind, is an idiot (seriously, I’ve seen comments on “Education Week” that more or less offer this up as a reason to oppose standardized tests).

How about we make a deal? It’s a four-part offer:

  1. Channel all funding away from districts and to individual families.
  2. Let public schools charge tuition, along with private schools.
  3. Each school then develops whatever assessment system it thinks appropriate. Parents and teachers choose schools that offer the kinds of assessments they think is appropriate.
  4. The state gathers information about every school, including its assessment policies, and disseminates that to the public at large, but especially to parents of school-age children.

A small but growing chorus for school choice

Worth watching.

What “Jersey Shore” tells us about teacher pay

Popular attitudes towards public education suffer from an ignorance of some basic principles of education, such as the law of supply and demand.

Recently a friend of mine said something along these lines: “Isn’t it disgusting that the cast of ‘Jersey Shore’ gets paid $45,000 per episode when teachers in this country don’t get paid that much for a whole year?”

What I know about  “Jersey Shore” is very little. I suspect (I have not bothered to do a Google search) that it is a  “reality show” on some TV network, about people who spend their time baking in the sun at a beach on the Atlantic Ocean.

As you might surmise, I don’t see any need to watch that show. But millions of people, or at least hundreds of thousands, find the show compelling, entertaining, or otherwise worth their time. That fact means that advertisers hand over money to the producers of the show, who in turn pay the “actors” of  the show. That’s no “God’s-eye-view” judgment that “Jersey Shore” is more important to the health of the health of the country than education, but it does illustrate the economic principle of scarcity: That which is scarce, relative to the demand, fetches more than that which is not.

Nationally, the “average” teacher earned about $54,000 per year, which isn’t wealthy, but not exactly a starvation wage, either. (I suspect, though don’t know with certainty, that this number does not include health or retirement benefits.) The number in Kansas is lower ($49,000), but then again, Kansas has a lower cost of living than, say, the east-coast urbanized zone from Washington, DC to Boston, or the sprawling settlement that is Southern California. There’s another factor about teacher pay that must be kept in mind, too: Teaching offers job security that is not present in many jobs. Getting fired for non-performance almost never happens, thanks to the power of tenure and contracts. Even getting let go for economic reasons is not as likely as in some other industries (witness the recent, massive “edujobs” bailout from Congress.)

Finally, the pay of teachers has been affected by the trend towards “smaller class sizes.” Simply put, you can have few teachers earning a lot, or more teachers not earning as much. The path the nation has taken in recent decades is to increase the number of teachers. As any student of Econ 101 can (if he’s paying attention) tell you, when the supply of people supply a service goes up, that puts downward pressure on wages.

2 Million Minutes

The documentary “2 million minutes” compares the lives of six high-achieving high school students: two in the U.S. (Indiana), two in China, and two in India. The title refers to the time that a student spends during the four years of high school.

One obvious contrast between the students is that the American students spend much more time in social activities than the Indian or Chinese students.

Part 1

Part 2

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this comparison; given their size, it’s almost inevitable that over time, India and China will turn out more engineers and scientists than the U.S. On the other hand, much of the time that students spend in U.S. high schools is wasted. This isn’t to say that we should desire every student to qualify for, say, MIT. But  the flat lines we’ve seen in time over the NAEP at the high school level (math, reading) are not encouraging, to say the least.

Are we “waiting for Superman?”

There’s a powerful new documentary about American education. Unfortunately, it’s about the dismal education that many children receive.

Here’s the trailer:

The director, Davis Guggenheim, talks about why he created the movie:

The Nation pans the film. The Boston Globe offers a more positive review.

Here’s the official website (turn down the volume on your computer).

The film is playing in only a few cities–and for Kansans, that means driving to Denver, Dallas, or St. Louis–making its relevance for Kansans, at least for now, not great.

And yet … Kansans are also federal taxpayers and citizens of the United States, which means that what happens in New York City and Washington (where the film appears to be focused) is in fact relevant for Kansans. And you don’t have to leave Kansas to find schools with poor academic records or high drop-out rates.

If I’m able to get a viewing of the film, I’ll report back with more comments.

USA Today/NBC discover home schooling

USA Today discovers home schooling. A recent article offers several reasons why parents pursue home schooling for their children:

They wish to take the children to visit various countries or part of the U.S., using the world as a classroom.

They wish to spend more time with their children, to have more opportunity to be parents. One homeschooling parent said that when her children were in public schools, “Our time together was squeezed into a few hours in the evening.”

Who pursues homeschooling and why?

Brian D. Ray, founder of the National Home Education Research Institute, said about 2 million children and teens are home-schooled in the United States. In 2003, 20 percent of parents said they chose to home-school their kids for “other reasons” that included “family time” and “travel.” By 2007, that percentage had jumped to 32 percent.

Money alone isn’t the answer: newspaper appearances

The Kansas Policy Institute is making its voice known on school-funding matters. For example, the Wichita Eagle published a letter to the editor about school funding:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Money alone isn’t answer for schools

Kansas taxpayers increased their support of K-12 education from $4.3 billion to $5.7 billion between the 2004-05 and 2008-09 school years, but the majority of students still are not proficient on fourth- and eighth- grade national reading and math tests. State assessment results show that only about 61 percent of students have “full comprehension” of grade-appropriate reading material, and even fewer are “likely to perform accurately at all cognitive levels” in math.

Money alone clearly isn’t the answer, and other states are using proven alternatives. Reforms in Florida gave families more options, and skyrocketing national test scores followed. Florida’s fourth-grade reading scores trailed Kansas’ by 15 percentage points in 1998, but Florida’s fourth-graders now lead by 2 points and have dramatically closed racial achievement gaps.

As many Kansas school districts prepare to sue taxpayers once again, it’s important to remember that simply spending more hasn’t meant better outcomes for kids. If we spend more wisely and give kids the opportunities they deserve, the next generation will be able achieve its own piece of the American dream.

JOHN LaPLANTE

Kansas Policy Institute

Wichita

And here’s a short item that ran in the Dodge City Globe on September 27, 2010

Spending more money on schools isn’t the answer

WICHITA —

Suppose you are an investor in an organization that said it needed more resources to achieve a desired outcome. Over the next four years, you and other investors pump $1.4 billion more into the organization but find that the goal still isn’t being achieved.  Would you continue along the same course and hope for better results or try something different?

Unfortunately, this is a real situation and as a Kansas taxpayer, you are an investor. Kansas taxpayers increased their support of K-12 education from $4.3 billion to $5.7 billion between the 2004-05 and 2008-2009 school years, but the majority of students are still not proficient on fourth- and eighth-grade national reading and math tests.  Even state assessment results show that only about 61 percent of students have “full comprehension” of grade-appropriate reading material, and even fewer are “…likely to perform accurately at all cognitive levels…” in math.

Money alone clearly isn’t the answer, and other states are using proven alternatives. Reforms in Florida gave families more options, and skyrocketing national test scores followed. Florida fourth-grade reading scores trailed Kansas’ students by 15 points in 1998, but they now lead by two points and have dramatically closed racial achievement gaps.

As many school districts prepare to sue taxpayers once again, it’s important to remember that simply spending more hasn’t meant better outcomes for Kansas kids. If we spend smarter and give kids the opportunities they deserve, the next generation will be able to achieve the American dream.

Finally, a recent report on spending and achievement was noticed by the National Center for Policy Analysis in its September 29, 2010 Daily Policy Digest:

Kansas has been following the same theory for a long time in hope of improving public education: pumping more money into the same approach to achieve proficiency. Over the last 10 years corresponding to the state’s participation in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Kansans have increased per pupil spending by 79 percent, but the results have been dismal: modest improvements in mathematics, little improvement in reading ability and the majority of students still failing to perform at proficient levels. That is a failing grade by any measurement, says John R. LaPlante, an education policy fellow with the Kansas Policy Institute.

It’s also important to examine how mathematics and reading scores have changed since 2005 — the year before the state began pumping hundreds of millions more into schools as a result of the last school lawsuit.

Total aid to schools jumped $1.4 billion between the 2005 and the 2009 school years ($925 million of which came from the state) but test scores are essentially flat.

The education lobby contends that higher spending causes achievement to rise, but a 30 percent per pupil spending hike over a four year period clearly made little difference in proficiency scores.

Continuing to follow the “more money = greater proficiency” theory would only validate Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. “Just spend more” is not the answer but there are many options that have proved successful, including charter schools and tax credits for private schools, says LaPlante.

Source: John R. LaPlante, “Kansas K-12 Spending and Achievement Comparison,” Kansas Policy Institute, September 2010.

For text:

http://www.kansaspolicy.org/researchcenters/education/studies/d66804.aspx?type=view

For more on Education Issues:

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_Category=27

Obviously, schools need money to operate. But if we want to improve student achievement, we’ve got to do more than just spend more. Unfortunately, that seems to be the easiest path.

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