Kansas to Join Choice States

Kansas to Join Choice States
April 9, 2014

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)

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:


School Choice Roundup


Common Core Watch


Education Today

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)