Brownback's personal income tax cuts will leave nearly $3.9 billion out of the state government's budget over the next five years. He has claimed that Kansas is leading a low-tax, small-government "American renaissance."But Sam Brownback forgot to make his numbers added up. He forgot to figure out how to fully fund Kansas' schools. Angry parents sued and won as the courts declared Kansas' lack of school funding unconstitutional. And now, the state will have to figure out how to restore the funding that was cut from the schools, meaning that they might possibly have to rescind Sam Brownback's tax cuts.
By way of comparison, Missouri's governor Jay Nixon last year vetoed a bill that was similar to Kansas' that was presented as an attempt to attract business to the state. The veto was upheld despite veto-proof GOP majorities in the legislature as a group of rural legislators revolted against the bill and shot it down. And now, the debate in Missouri is on how much more will go into schools given the extra revenues we will have this year. Missouri dodged a bullet last year. I talked to a superintendent about the bill and he said that he didn't want to have to even think about the cuts he would have to recommend to the board had that bill passed.
The problem was that in Kansas, the cuts made by that legislature disproportionately affected the poor districts, leading to lower test scores.
The lawsuit was filed in 2010 on behalf of parents and school districts who argued that the reduced funding was worsening the quality of education and leading to lower test scores. State attorneys maintained that legislators did their best to minimize cuts to education.The courts agreed.
In the much-anticipated ruling, the court said Kansas' poor school districts were harmed when the state made the decision to cut certain payments after tax revenues declined during the world financial crisis in 2008.And the research shows that investment in public schools and improvement in test scores are directly related. This study (PDF) shows that specifically, investment in teacher development and improvement in student performance are directly related.
Using data from a 50-state survey of policies, state case study analyses, the 1993- 94 Schools and Staffing Surveys (SASS), and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), this study examines the ways in which teacher qualifications and other school inputs are related to student achievement across states. The findings of both the qualitative and quantitative analyses suggest that policy investments in the quality of teachers may be related to improvements in student performance. Quantitative analyses indicate that measures of teacher preparation and certification are by far the strongest correlates of student achievement in reading and mathematics, both before and after controlling for student poverty and language status.The research also shows that parent and community involvement is crucial.
The second section of the report synthesizes the studies' findings.This section also provides some pertinent definitions; lists recommendations to help educators put findings to practical use; and presents research findings related to three areas:(1) impact of parent and community involvement on student achievement;(2) effective strategies to connects schools, families, and community; and (3) parent and community organizing efforts to improve schools.So, investment in that would help student success.
And the research shows that a third important area of investment is in student health.
Participants concluded that healthy children learn better, and they cautioned that no curriculum can compensate for deficiencies in student health status.While blindly throwing money at schools is not the best way of solving problems, targeted funding in community involvement, student health, and teacher development significantly improves student performance on test scores. Sam Brownback's cuts to schools only served to harm student achievement.