October 17th, 2018
L&T Opinions Page

A SECOND OPINION, The Kansas Policy Institute


There’s universal agreement that nothing impacts learning more than the interaction between students and teachers, yet local school boards allocated just 53.9 percent of total spending to Instruction during the 2018 school year. The Kansas Department of Education (KSDE), defines Instruction as “direct interaction between students and teachers.”

When the Kansas Supreme Court ordered an $853 million funding increase in 2005, the Legislature encouraged school boards to put most of the money into Instruction by passing a policy recommendation urging 65 percent of total funding to go towards Instruction. Local school boards ignored the Legislature and reduced the allocation from 54.2 percent to the current level.

The Kansas Association of School Boards likes to claim far larger spending allocations to ‘the classroom’ by counting other spending but there is no official state or federal definition of “classroom;’ that’s merely an attempt to deflect attention from what is actually spent on what has the greatest influence on student achievement – direct interaction between students and teachers.

Had local school boards done so each year, $7.8 billion more would have been spent on Instruction since 2005. Immediately going to 65 percent may not have been practical, but even raising the allocation by a half percentage point each year until reaching the target would have resulted in $4.9 billion more being spent on Instruction.

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