Kansas to Join Choice States
School Choice Weekly #32
Like Indiana and North Carolina before it, Kansas seems set to pass a number of freedom-friendly education reforms at once.
In the state budget that now sits on Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk is the state’s first school choice program and a provision eliminating tenure for school employees. The choice program gives businesses state tax credits worth 70 percent of their donations to nonprofit organizations that fund K–12 private school scholarships, up to a cumulative $10 million in credits.
The budget also ends the teacher training monopoly for people with degrees in math and science fields. Other states should follow Kansas’s lead by removing teacher licensing requirements that include mandatory courses in colleges of education. Studies repeatedly show teacher certification does not improve teacher quality, and the mandatory courses typically inculcate ineffective progressive methods in prospective teachers.
The new choice program is a step forward, but let’s hope it goes farther in the next few years. $10 million sounds like a lot but can fund only 2,000 scholarships if they average $5,000 each. Kansas has almost half-a-million K-12 students, so the scholarships can reach only 0.4 percent of them. That $10 million is also just 0.2 percent of the $4.6 billion Kansans already spent on K–12 education annually before also deciding to plough an extra $129 million into this year’s budget because of a recent state supreme court decision. So the new school choice program is significant, but puny.
School choice tends to expand once introduced, but before that happens, expect teachers unions to file lawsuits against the choice program and tenure ban, as they have almost everywhere similar reforms have been enacted. Although such suits often lose, the unions must try, because laws like these accelerate union decline.
MORE INFORMATION: The Topeka Capitol-Journal
IN THIS ISSUE:
- ENROLLMENT: Enrollment in school choice programs increased 25 percent in the past year, the biggest jump ever. Even so, only 300,000 kids are in choice programs, of 50 million K–12 students nationwide.
- FLORIDA: Lawmakers tweak a bill to offer education savings accounts to students with special needs. Now it will use state disability funds rather than per-pupil funds.
- NEW YORK: Lawmakers cut a bipartisan education tax-credit proposal from the state budget.
- MISSISSIPPI: The House kills an education savings account bill for special-needs students.
- GEORGIA: Parents sue to stop the state's K–12 tax-credit scholarship program, on grounds that it sends public money to religious schools. Courts usually disagree with that argument, since tax credit money never hits state coffers.
- LOUISIANA: Gov. Bobby Jindal says he wants better standards than Common Core, but he doesn't take action to back up that statement.
- SOUTH CAROLINA: The state drops federally funded national Common Core tests. No word yet on what will replace them.
- NEVADA: A dad asks to see what data the state collects on his children, and state officials tell him they need $10,000 to answer that question.
- ACADEMICS: Most of the country’s best high schools do not field a football team.
- MICHIGAN: Several school districts still have contracts that require hiring based on race. Some are defending the contracts as required under court desegregation orders.
- KANSAS: Hackers take down the state’s online tests, invalidating thousands of results. Officials say no student information was compromised, but they do not know who made the attacks.
- TEXAS: How a band of mothers took on the state’s standardized test regime--and won.