The changing purposes of public education

When government is involved in education, you can expect controversy, and just perhaps, a poor fit between what schooling provides and what the needs of the days are.

You can read about the changes made in American education in a new report from the Kansas Policy Institute, called What do we want from education? I wrote the report, which finishes up a four-part series that KPI started last fall.

To review the series:

Part 1: A history of education finance (PDF), which traces school funding developments in Kansas, from statehood until the filing of the Montoy lawsuits.

Part 2: A legal Analysis of Montoy vs. State of Kansas (PDF), which unpacks the court’s reasoning.

Part 3: Analysis of K-12 spending in Kansas (PDF), which shows a great variation across districts in the amount of money spent, and the effectiveness of that money.

Part 4: What do we want from education?

Part 4 reviews:

  • The cultural / religious rationales used for public education
  • The merits and limits of “college education for all,” and suggestions for multiple paths for high school
  • The impossibility of determining the “costs” of education aside from politics
  • 90/90/90 schools: High poverty, high-minority enrollment schools that are high achievers
  • Using the weighted-student funding formula to drive funding to schools and away from central administration
  • Recommendations for making a school–and schools in general–more efficient in the use of public dollars

Much has been made of a “suitable” education, but Part 4 of the series suggests that in its current form, public schools do not provide every student with a “suitable” education, and won’t, regardless of how much money they have.

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