Life is a Highway, and We Need a New car

Life is a Highway, and We Need a New car

What was your first car? Whether it was an old beater or a
new whip, everyone has a special place in their heart for that first ride.  It was 1974, I had just turned 16, and had
been picking up dates in a 1954 DeSoto Coronado.  Sure, it had the big Hemi engine, but not
exactly the sled that impresses teenage girls.
I had saved some money, and I think my parents felt sorry
for me for moving to a new town the summer before my junior year.  The car shopping began in earnest.  There it was, a vision shining before me: a
1969 Chevelle SS convertible for sale! 
396 cubic inches, 350 horsepower, stock. A little out of my price
range, but I had saved most of the money, would do my homework and stay out of
the principal’s office- really!  In
hindsight I think Max was on board- what a great car!  But alas, mom nixed it because it was a
convertible. It’s a safety factor.  My
mom the worrier.
The Volkswagen Karman Ghia is a beautiful car.  Most of the body is handmade by the Karman
Coach Works in Germany.  But alas, it is
a beautiful body on a VW chassis.  The
1971 that I bought was rated at 60 sad little horsepower.  In a drag race, my little Ghia would not keep
pace with a three-legged wiener dog. Conklin Cars was the recipient of a check
for $1,200 written on my account.  It was
hard for a 16-year-old kid to fathom that much money all at once.
In the world of education, like the world of cars, it is not
all about looks.  Our state has developed
a beautiful vision.  It is based upon
input from Kansans of all stripes and is inspires us to do what is best for our
kids.  Unfortunately, without a strong
engine, Kansans Can is a Karman Ghia, all show and no go.  Two things make an education vision go: the hard
work of educators and the resources necessary to do the job.  We know Kansas educators are up to the hard
work, so let’s focus on resources.
Historically, Kansas has rewritten its finance formula about
every 12-13 years, or if you like coincidences, about every generation of
students. The formula is the engine that makes the vision go, and we have an
opportunity now to design an improved engine to drive our new vision. I will
divert from the VW metaphor now because of their recent issues with the law,
and turn to an iconic engine maker- Harley Davidson.
The HD V-twin through the ages.
As we build our new school finance formula, the Harley
V-twin is a good model to follow.  It has
been a V-twin since the early days of HD, maintaining its basic structure and
design.  In our recent tour of the state,
KASB gathered data on a school finance formula. 
USA/KSSA have been working on a formula. 
These efforts revolve around a basic design that has been tried and
true, like Harley-Davidson.  But even the
traditionalists at HD have made evolutionary and even revolutionary changes to
their engines.  They may look similar,
but the 2017’s are very different from the 1957’s. 
Kansans have said the basic “old Formula” was good.  Providing funding on a per student basis,
providing additional resources for proven additional needs, equity, and local
flexibility are all part of that basic V-twin. 
During our tour, we asked our members how to improve on that old
formula. What they said is that we need to align it with our new vision.
Here’s what our members said the “engine” needs to reward
and emphasize:
1.    
Kindergarten Readiness
2.    
Individual Plans of Study
3.    
High school graduation rates
4.    
Post-secondary attendance and completion
5.    
Social and Emotional Growth
6.    
Civic engagement/Character education/Soft Skills
7.    
Staff support
For those familiar with Kansans Can, many of those formula
enhancements will look familiar.  The
suggested improvements align with the following outcomes from the state vision:
VISION
Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.
OUTCOMES TO BE MEASURED
·      
Kindergarten readiness
·      
Individual Plan of Study based on career interest
·      
Graduation rates
·      
Postsecondary attendance/attainment
·      
Social/emotional growth measured locally

DEFINING SUCCESS
A successful Kansas high school graduate has the academic preparation,
cognitive preparation, technical skills, employability skills and civic
engagement to be successful in postsecondary education, in the attainment of an
industry recognized certification or in the workforce, without the need for remediation.

We have a great looking vision.  We are designing a new engine.  We should not be satisfied with putting the
old engine back in the newly designed car; otherwise we end up with an all show
and no go VW Karman Ghia.  This is our
chance, our one chance for this generation of students, to build an improved engine,
one that supports the vision, and helps Kansas education become the ultimate
driving machine of world education.