NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 25, 2008

Discussions about education in Kansas typically involve two assertions.  The first is that schools are performing well.  The second is that Kansas taxpayers are excessively frugal. John R. LaPlante, in his new research paper, "K-12 Spending and Achievement in Kansas: 2007 Edition," challenges both assumptions by laying out some basic facts about the history of school spending and achievement for Kansas schools.

According to LaPlante, since 1993, changes in student enrollment have been modest:

  • In the 2006-07 school year, Kansas government-run public schools had a full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment that was just 1.8 higher than the same number in 1993.
  • The infusion of an additional $2.5 billion to the yearly budget has meant that per-pupil funding has increased from $5,987 to $11,558, or 93 percent.

While Kansas schools have achieved modest gains, their performance on mathematics in the fourth grade, progress has stalled, he says.  Currently, half of all students are not proficient on math.  If possible, performance on reading has been worse.

  • In the 1997-98 school year, per-pupil spending was $6,828; two out of three students were not proficient in reading.
  • During the 2006-07 school year, per-pupil spending was 69 percent higher, at $11,558; two out of three students were not proficient in reading.

Local school districts have had a privileged position as recipients of tax dollars spent on education.  This is in contrast with both pre-school and higher education, in which families have a much larger say in where their children use those dollars.  It is time to give those families a larger say in K-12 education by promoting truly independent charter schools and letting the funds follow the child to any school, private or public, says LaPlante.

Source: John R. LaPlante, "K-12 Spending and Achievement in Kansas: 2007 Edition," Flint Hills Center, Vol. 4, Issue 10, December 31, 2007.


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