KASB Advocacy Blog - Mark Tallman

KASB Advocacy Blog - Mark Tallman

New funding allows districts to address both teacher shortage and student success

Over the past few years, KASB asked school leaders to name the greatest barriers to achieving improved educational results. Common responses include the challenges of student and family poverty, differences in school readiness, the need for more specialized services, emotional and mental health challenges and barriers to higher education. The most consistent answer, however, was a shortage of qualified teachers, both in numbers available and quality of applicants. Quite simply, programs will not work without the right people behind them. The reasons for this shortage include a long, deep decline in students entering college programs for teaching, competition with other...

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Requiem for the paperboy and the future of education

The Emporia Gazette recently ran a column about the newspaper’s decision to end “carrier delivery” in favor of mail delivery. In other words, getting rid of paperboys (and girls). For many readers, that is hardly news. I can’t remember the last time my newspaper in Topeka was delivered by the iconic kid on a bicycle, rather than an adult in a car or truck. Growing numbers of Kansans get their newspaper only on-line or have dropped their local paper completely. (For more on that, there is a fascinating series of articles published by the Kansas Leadership Center Journal.) The Gazette story...

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Kansas ranks 30th in total K-12 funding per pupil in latest report

Kansas ranked 30th among the 50 states in total funding per K-12 student in 2017, providing more than $1,500 less than the national average, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. That gap steadily widened since 2009, when it was $311. Adjusted for inflation, Kansas per pupil funding remains below 2008. The reduction in real (inflation-adjusted) funding and the impact on student achievement is a key factor in the Gannon school finance case. In 2017, the Kansas Legislature began adding funding in response to that case. That additional funding, beginning in 2018, is not included in this...

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Celebrate graduation, but there is more work to be done

It’s graduation season in Kansas. In high school gyms and college stadiums, in family living rooms and all-night parties, we’re celebrating those who have put in the work to complete a credential: a high school diploma, technical certificate or college degree. That is appropriate because each education step usually has a big impact on future standard of living. The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that each step in the educational ladder increases employment and earnings. As would be expected, the reverse is true of poverty: each educational level lowers the chances of living in poverty. Graduation...

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Measuring the increase in Kansas school funding from the Gannon decision

  As the Kansas Supreme Court considers whether the Legislature has addressed its order in the Gannon school finance case, many ask how much school funding has been increased as a result of that lawsuit, and how it compares to previous levels of funding. The state’s attorneys in briefs and oral arguments say the state has added $1 billion in school funding in response to the court. That’s a reasonable statement, with some important notes. First, the new funding is spread over six years. Second, the additional funding is calculated to restore school general operating budgets to the purchasing power of...

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New report shows growing teacher pay gap compared to other fields requiring college degrees

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that average weekly salaries for teachers are nearly 20 percent lower than pay for similarly educated employees in other fields, and the gap has been growing for decades. The teacher pay penalty in Kansas is slightly worse than the national average. Adding non-wage benefits like insurance and retirement plans reduces but does not eliminate the growing gap.   Kansas education leaders have been raising concerns over a growing teacher shortage for several years, as fewer students enter teacher training programs and others leave the profession. This report suggests a major reason is...

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April revenue estimates project stable revenue, economic growth and education funding at lower share of income than past decade

The latest state revenue forecast, released April 18 by a group of legislative and executive fiscal experts and economists from state universities, contained generally positive news for school leaders and the state. Here are the key points for school leaders: After steep income tax cuts were passed in 2012 then largely repealed in 2017, state revenues are projected to be stable. State revenue estimates for 2019, 2020 and 2021 changed little since the November report. State personal income growth – a key measure of economic well-being – is expected to be higher during the next three years than from 2013...

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Are Kansas schools improving or failing? Both, because expectations keep rising

The following was a presentation to the Kansas State Board of Education, April 16, 2019 The Kansas constitution calls for a system of public education and other institutions to provide for intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement. In addition, the Kansas Supreme Court has set seven standards for adequate funding, including support to the provide: “Sufficient training or preparation for advanced training in either academic or vocational fields so as to enable each child to choose and pursue life work intelligently; and “Sufficient levels of academic or vocational skills to enable public school students to compete favorably with their counterparts in surrounding...

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School funding goes to Kansas Supreme Court. Whatever happens there, school leaders have opportunity, responsibility to ensure more students succeed

The passage of SB 16 with a bi-partisan majority of Legislators and quick signature by Gov. Laura Kelly sends a new school finance plan to the Kansas Supreme Court. Both the plaintiff school districts and the Attorney General's office defending the state have to file briefs by April 15 on whether the bill adequately responds to the court's call for an inflation factor as last year's multi-year plan is phased in over the next four years. Oral arguments are scheduled for May 9. The Kansas State Board of Education crafted the inflation adjustment and the court has leaned heavily on...

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Changes in Kansas educational outcomes and funding

The Kansas State Board of Education, Gov. Laura Kelly, and the Kansas Senate have all agreed on a plan adding $90 million a year for four years to the school finance package passed last session as an “inflation adjustment” to resolve the Gannon school finance case. So far, the Kansas House of Representatives has resisted, with some Republican leaders saying that in the past, the Legislature has added more funding to K-12 education without seeing any better results. They say they're skeptical that more money will make a difference and that the Legislature should place more strings on funding, implying...

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