Kansas spends more per pupil on education than Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Arkansas and Missouri. The 2015 numbers, tallied by the National Center for Educational Statistics, are reported in the Tulsa World in a story titled, “Oklahoma Still Trailing Regional States in Per-Pupil Spending for Schools.”
“Kansas represents the high end of Oklahoma’s neighbors in per-pupil spending, spending $10,329 a year, while Oklahoma spends $8,075 per student,” the paper reports. The NCES expenditures do not include capital debt and other expenditures, and NCES used actual head count to draw its conclusion rather than full-time equivalent students, which is what Kansas uses in its current funding number.
Missouri spent $10,231 per pupil. The other regional states spent between $9,081 and $9,805 per pupil, per year, the Tulsa World reported. Kansas’ northern neighbor, Nebraska, isn’t mentioned in the story, but NCES reports Nebraska spent $12,174 per pupil.
“This isn’t difficult math. We’re striving to compete with neighboring states for jobs and businesses while failing to keep pace with their investments in education,” Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, said.
Someone should alert the Kansas media and the Kansas Association of School Boards. Both, at last count, tell readers and lawmakers that Kansas schools are barely scraping by. They aren’t arguing that Kansas is spending too little to get decent results. Instead, they argue that Kansas’ school funding is short of previous funding levels when adjusted for inflation. For what it’s worth, the same can be said for the price of microwave ovens and other household items, the cost of Lasik eye surgery, clothing, toys and personal computers. Oddly, it’s difficult to find consumers clamoring to maintain high costs for the sake of maintaining high costs anywhere but in public education.
Unfortunately for consumers, where they have a choice in whether to purchase a microwave or a computer–and even a choice of types–they don’t get the same opportunity where public education is concerned. It’s one-size-fits-all, without regard to cost or outcomes. The numbers that appeared so readily in an Oklahoma paper in a quest for ever-higher funding isn’t likely to be published in Kansas, because they don’t fit the narrative that Kansas schools are underfunded.