New federal mandates are the biggest issue in education.
Federal intervention in Kansas schools is already here.
Kansas schools are being taken over by the federal government. That’s not a threat – it’s a fact.
In my recent editorial in this newspaper, I informed our community about the Kansas Education Commission, which was recently formed to comply with massive new federal requirements for educational standards. The federal mandates will strip local – and parental – control of education and force a huge administrative burden on teachers and school districts.
I gave my opponent, Joe Novak, an opportunity to substantiate this and address the dire consequences that will result from this federal takeover of education. Instead, my opponent chose to give erroneous information on property taxes – which I have neither supported nor voted for (state legislators don’t vote on property taxes). He failed to address the most important issue in Kansas education: The fact that the Obama Administration is centralizing control of schools with federal bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., rather than with parents and teachers in local schools. The Kansas Education Commission didn’t even address local control or property taxes in its plan because their priorities are now all about federal mandates.
The facts about education in Kansas
When I was first elected to the State Legislature four years ago, I made it a priority to lay out the facts on both sides and state my position. I want to inform the voters, then let you decide. Here are the facts:
1. In April 2010, Kansas dropped out of the federal Race To The Top competition for $4.35 billion in federal education grants because our state failed to meet basic criteria for student achievement. Achievement standards should have been put into effect long ago by the Kansas Dept. of Education.
2. We have spent an additional $1.5 billion in state funds on education in the last 5 years. State spending per-pupil has increased 26% (now $12,225 per student), despite the education lobby’s claims that the sky is falling. This additional $1.5 billion has produced no gains in student achievement, according to the U.S. Dept. of Education.
3. Gov. Parkinson established the Kansas Education Commission in May 2010 and appointed its members to establish the state educational standards in order to be in compliance with the federal ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act). No local school districts were involved with this decision, and the Commission aims to comply with federal mandates. (Several states have already opted out of this federal program.) The Commission will present Kansas’ compliance with these federal mandates on January 1, after the election of state representatives.
This is why the election of your state representative is so important. You know that I have consistently favored accountability and responsible education budgeting without tax increases.
I urge you to be an informed voter this election. My opponent will try to spin this, but these are facts. You’ll find the federal and state spending and achievement reports in the links above, at right. I assure you that I will continue to work for responsible education budgeting and achievement, and oppose a federal takeover of education.