education funding

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman / Jason Unboun / Texas Tribune

Texas’s complicated method for funding its public schools has increasingly come under criticism in recent years. Last week the case finally reached the state Supreme Court, reports The Texas Tribune. The high court upheld the state’s public school funding as constitutional, but didn’t exactly praise the system.

News 9

Should you for some reason happen to be in the basement of the Oklahoma capitol next Wednesday afternoon, you’re going to witness an impressive sight.

Up to 40 Oklahoma’s educators will arrive ready to fill out applications to run for state elected office, reports News 9 Oklahoma City. The public school workers are running to try in response to deep cuts to education funding in the state, which have gutted schools and left students in the lurch.

AP photo

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed a school finance bill in response to an order from the Kansas Supreme Court, reports the Garden City Telegram. With its order, the court intends to develop a more equitable education funding system.

Harvard Political Review

When it comes to public school coverage by the mainstream media, rural schools get the short end of the stick. David Gutierrez recently wrote about the problem for Harvard Political Review, explaining: “This disparity in media coverage is understandable. The crumbling infrastructure of cities, the poverty and segregation faced by inner-city students, and the presence of a school-to-prison pipeline are all serious problems that demand reforms. But . . .

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When it comes to supporting public schools, all 50 states are doing a bad job, according to a new study. A report card was issued this week by the Network for Public Education, says The Washington Post. Some states fared better than others, though no state scored above a C grade.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Over the past few years hundreds of teacher have left Oklahoma for better pay elsewhere. This mass exodus of teachers has left the state desperate to fill the empty classrooms, reports member station KOSU. One such teacher said he’s bringing in $30,000 more per year, along with his wife, teaching in Arkansas. He thinks the reason Arkansas pays more is because their taxes are higher. “The difference in Oklahoma,” he said, “is tax cut, tax cut, tax cut.”

Okahoma Lottery

Oklahoma school districts are being forced to slash their budgets in the middle of the school year, reports KFOR. It’s a seemingly impossible task to adjust budgets at this point in the year. And many Oklahomans are wondering, where is the lottery money that was supposed to help the schools?

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Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas lawmakers say they won't consider increasing funding to public schools until they’re sure the money already spent on education is finding its way into the classroom. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that GOP lawmakers don't yet have a clear definition of what makes up classroom spending. Brownback said: “Right now, you've got this high percentage that's not getting to the classroom.”

Kansas K-12 Committee Grapples with Conflicting Data

Dec 1, 2015
Jared Tarbell / Creative Commons

A Kansas legislative committee studying options for K-12 funding has run into a problem, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal. As the committee decides how to fund schools, they have competing research trying to influence them. Rival interest groups are flaunting a clash of studies to promote their positions. First there’s the Kansas Policy Institute, a conservative think tank in Wichita.

Creative Commons

Oklahoma has been issuing emergency teacher licenses over the past few months, reports Public Radio Tulsa. The move comes after Oklahoma started the year with over 1,000 unfilled teaching positions across the state. Not long ago, emergency certificate requests were so rare that applicants were summoned before the state Board of Education to make their case. But Oklahoma has approved 948 emergency certifications for teachers since July.

Rural Colorado Struggles to Find Teachers

Oct 7, 2015
Jenny Brundin / CPR News

Colorado’s rural school districts are on the brink of crisis when it comes to finding enough teachers to fill the classrooms. Colorado is simply not producing enough teachers, reports Colorado Public Radio. Over the past five years, enrollments in the state's teacher prep schools are down 23 percent. Math, science and special education teachers are especially in demand. Colorado has begun to recruit educators in states with teacher surpluses, such as Michigan and Utah.

Creative Commons

The Oklahoman recently published an editorial calling for creative solutions to the Oklahoma teacher shortage. The state currently has about 1,000 teacher vacancies. That’s even after the state eliminated 600 teaching jobs during the last school year. The state has seen large rallies over the past couple of years. Protestors decried the fact that Oklahoma ranks near the bottom nationally in average salary for teachers.

http://www.wtamu.edu/

Middle-class Texans hoping to receive college tuition aid from the state are increasingly out of luck, according to The Texas Tribune. And starting September first, the situation will grow more dire.

Motown31 / Creative Commons

Underperforming Texas schools could face harsh penalties, according to a new law that takes effect September 1st. The Texas Tribune reports that if school districts don’t perform up to standards, the state will be authorized to strip them of their authority, or even close the school.

A Ranking of the Best and Worst States for Student Debt

Aug 10, 2015
thisisbossi / Flickr Creative Commons

The online financial site WalletHub has published a list of the best and worst states for student debt. The site compared the 50 states by combining seven key metrics , including average student debt, the state’s unemployment rate, and the percentage of students with past-due loan balances.

Creative Commons

Oklahoma may be one of the first states to repeal Common Core and draft completely new standards, Public Radio Tulsa reports.  Meanwhile, after repealing the Common Core goals, the state has instituted new academic standards in math and English, that in some ways go beyond Common core requirements. For example, elementary school students will be expected to write research papers, and high school students will need to know the “why”s behind mathematical formulas.

US Public School Funding Still Unfair, Report Suggests

Jun 23, 2015
Tom Woodward / Flickr Creative Commons

A new study finds that public school funding continues to be unfair across America, reports the watchdog website schoolfundingfairness.org. Despite the country’s economic recovery, states have been slow to restore public school funding to the levels they experienced before the recession. Students living in impoverished areas suffer the most.

Oklahoma schools have the same budget as 2008, but 40,000 new students. That has schools dipping into their savings and running out of space.

Kansas state budget cuts are prompting school districts to take steps to save money. The Smoky Valley school district is the third school planning on closing early to save money. The school will close a week early to save about $10,000.

Education Advocates Walk 60 Miles to Kansas Statehouse

Mar 31, 2015

Walkers trek to Topeka hoping to get lawmakers and voters to pay attention to public school funding. This is the third year people have walked from Kansas City to the Capitol. The group wants increased education funding, not the newly approved block grant funding.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

A bill that scraps the school funding system is heading to the Kansas governor’s desk.  It would temporarily create a block grant system while lawmakers write a new funding formula. 

Supporters of the bill say it has $300 million in new funding and gives Kansas schools more flexibility.

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle says the bill lets them start over and ditches a school funding formula she calls “broken.”

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

Republican leaders in the Kansas Legislature have unveiled a plan to toss out the current school funding formula and go to a block grant system for the next two years.

Republican Ty Masterson chairs the Senate’s budget writing committee. He says the bill would increase spending by $300 million for Kansas K-12 schools.

Texas Judge Urges Lawmakers to Fix School Finance

Feb 24, 2015
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / texastribune.org

Retired Texas state district Judge John Dietz made his first public appearance this weekend.

Deitz spoke at the Association of Texas Professional Educators in Austin.

He says a solution to the state’s unequal and ineffective public education system should come from the Legislature. This report from the Texas Tribune.

He says, "We are dooming a generation of these children by providing an insufficient education, and we can do better."

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

A Kansas Senate committee is looking at rewriting part of the public school funding formula. The Legislature passed a bill increasing one type of school aid last year, but when it was all said and done, the cost had risen beyond their initial estimates. Kansas Public Radio’s Stephen Koranda reports the bill would change how it's calculated and reduce that type of education spending by $40 million dollars.

Could Brownback K-12 plan be a legal maneuver?

Jan 20, 2015
Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is proposing to ditch the state’s K-12 funding program reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. 

Brownback is recommending lawmakers abolish the K-12 funding formula and replace it with more than $3 billion in block grants while the Legislature writes a new formula.

Bruce Baker is a school finance professor at Rutgers University.  The former Kansan says it could be a legal maneuver to escape litigation.  Baker says giving something a new name, calling it a different formula, even when it’s not can be presented in court as an argument to dismiss a case. That forces plaintiffs to file a new lawsuit in a lower court because the formula specified no longer exists.

The Kansas Supreme Court recently ruled on the school funding issue. The Kansas Attorney General recently gave legislators a deadline for solving the issue.

Kansas: Supreme Court rules on school finance case

Mar 7, 2014
khi.org

The Kansas Supreme Court released its decision in the school finance case.  The unanimous decision found the lower court partially erred in its conclusion, and remanded it for further consideration.  The ruling also stated the lower court properly found the state’s funding mechanism had created “unconstitutional, wealth-based disparities” among school districts according to an article from the Kansas Health Institute

Brownback pushes for all-day kindergarten

Jan 29, 2014
RICH SUGG / The Kansas City Star

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback wants to fully fund all-day kindergarten.  Brownback proposes spending $80 million for the nearly 40,000 children across the state.  He calls it a strategic investment to ensure children are better positioned to succeed in school. 

Quentin Hope

While the Kansas legislature and local school districts may be at odds over school funding, there may be common ground in a proposal to fund full-day kindergarten, according to a story from the Wichita Eagle.  The state now funds only half-days.