Archive for Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Funding education in Kansas

New formulas could be based on teacher, administrator accountability

February 28, 2001

The topic of funding education in Kansas didn't do much to brighten an already dreary day when area legislators met with Tonganoxie area constituents Saturday morning.

Sen. Ray Cox, D-Bonner Springs, said he had been a teacher for 16 years.

"I was always moonlighting to be able to afford to stay in teaching," Cox said.

New funding laws, Cox said, would most likely be based on accountability by teachers and administrators.

"There will be an emphasis on K-3 to make sure that by the time they hit the third grade, they can read, write and do basic math," Cox said. "I'm thrilled to see that."

Rep. Ken Wilk, R-Lansing, agreed.

"This deals with the commitment backed up by money," Wilk said. "The whole philosophy is making sure that nobody leaves the third grade who can't read and is without basic skills in math and writing."

Wilk said not ensuring that would cost society later on.

"In Texas, they look at the second grade, and use a literacy test to project the prison population for 15 years later," Wilk said. "There's a message there they literally look at the numbers and they know what's going to be flowing into their prisons."

Currently, Kansas schools are doing good work, Wilk said.

"Kansas is scoring in the top 10 states nationally," Wilk said. "We should be proud of what's going on. We're far ahead of most states, but we're just not comfortable."

Richard Erickson, school superintendent, said the Tonganoxie district stresses goals and accountability.

"We're trying to make sure that all of our students score significantly above the state average on all assessments," Erickson said. "We want to see that our students score above 60 on the Stanford achievement tests. If we don't take tests, it's like playing a basketball game and not keeping score."

Cox said he supports a sales tax increase to boost education funding.

"I would support the Senate version of a two-tenths of one percent sales tax increase over three years," Cox said.

This has been projected to raise more than $200 million over the three-year period.

Another current issue, on a more local level, concerns casinos.

Cox called the idea of a Delaware Indian gambling casino in Leavenworth "a long shot."

"A lot of things would have to happen first," Cox said. "They act like they can just go plop down anywhere they want, but they cannot. The Department of the Interior has to say OK, the land has to be put in trust, the governor has to be involved and then the Kansas legislature must negotiate," Cox said.

Lyon said he was against casinos.

"It's a fundamental issue to me," Lyon said. "I can't justify in any way, shape or form the state being involved in casinos I can't see the state being involved in the numbers racket."

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