CHALLENGES FOR KANSAS EDUCATION
by Dr. Walt Chappell – (316) 838-7900
K-12 schools in Kansas are receiving $2.5 billion more per year to teach the same number of
students taught 10 years ago. However, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), plus
the ACT and SAT college admissions tests all show that achievement scores for Kansas students have
not improved. In fact, only 1/3rd of our 8th grade students are proficient in reading or math. Just 26% of
high school students have ACT scores high enough to be admitted to universities. Many who do attend
need remediation and/or flunk out with huge debts and no college degree.
It is time to ask some serious questions and find solutions which are not based on spending an
increased amount of tax dollars each and every year. We must provide our students with the
employable skills they need to compete for jobs in the global economy. Educators need to do a better
job with the 52% of dollars already provided by State taxpayers instead of always demanding more.
Here are some of the challenges which must be faced before quality education can be achieved.
1) The current State school finance formula does not assure an equal educational
opportunity for each student. The Legislature needs to pass a new formula based on the
resources required to teach the students attending each school. Line-item, school district
budgets hide and waste money. Too often, tax dollars do not reach the classroom.
2) Teachers receive pay raises based on the number of years taught and credit hours of
college courses completed—not on how well students learn. Since 80% of the cost of
educating students is in salaries, compensation must be based on teaching performance.
3) Giving teachers tenure after only three years instead of basing their continued
employment on student achievement does not reward excellence. No other sector of
society has such job security. It is time to change the teacher tenure laws in Kansas.
4) The average drop-