“The economy of our neighbor, Colorado, is growing fast,” writes the anonymous pundit. “New residents cite that state’s well-funded schools as a key reason. Meanwhile in Kansas, Susan Wagle says our public schools don’t deserve an extra nickel of help from legislators.”
This is not the official opinion of the Wichita Eagle, but it might as well be. Editorialists throughout the state have vied with each other these last several years to portray the Republicans who govern Kansas as anti-intellectual Grinches. The trickle-down opinion above captures all the hauteur and indifference to facts we have come to expect from the state media.
“Thinking like this ignores and disrespects the sacrifice Kansans make to fund our schools,” writes Weeks observantly. “This is a problem with government funding. The recipients rarely say ‘thank you’ to those who provide the funding — they just get mad and agitate for more.”
More problematic than the tone of the opinion piece are its facts. If the writer is implying Colorado spends more on its school, she is wrong. Weeks provides the data to disprove that contention.
Based on this data, it would appear that Kansas outspends Colorado by nearly 10 percent per pupil. Kansas teachers make more money, and they preside over classrooms that have about 12 percent fewer pupils on average. Other than these inconvenient facts, the Wichita pundit’s slam on Kansas would seem to be entirely on the money.
Despite the fact that Kansas is spending more than Colorado per pupil, the results of the 2015 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) test show Colorado students outperforming students in every subject at just about every level.
In the 4th and 8th grade, in both reading and math, Colorado students are narrowly more proficient than Kansas students. Kansas students, however, either match or exceed the national norms in every category. The one Kansas subgroup that outperforms its Colorado equivalent is “Hispanic Students.”
Before throwing more money at Kansas schools, the good justices of the Supreme Court might want to study Colorado to find out how its schools manage outperform Kansas schools. Maybe the answer for Kansas is not more money but less.