Kansas school spending advocates on the numbers

Next week there’s going to be a march on the Kansas statehouse asking for more spending on Kansas schools. In support of the march and the plea for more spending, a group has created a website titled Adequate Yearly Funding.

In an effort to make a factual case for more school funding, the page presents the fact that since 1992, base state aid per pupil in Kansas has increased from $3,600 to $4,012, an increase of 11%. The page illustrates how the cost of other things has increased by larger factors.

The problem with these facts is that they are incomplete. Base state aid per pupil is just part of the Kansas school funding formula. If we look at total funding by the state of Kansas we get quite a different picture.

I don’t have figures back to 1992, so I’ll start with the 1998 school year. Base state aid in that year was $3,720, so the increase to $4,012 — the current number — is 8%.

When considering total state funding, we go from $4,533 to $6,292 during the same period. That’s an increase of 39%. But the school spending lobby wants you to believe the increase is only 8%.

If we consider total school spending, the increase is from $7,222 to $12,225, which is an increase of 69%. Again, the school spending lobby wants you to look at just the 8% increase. According to them the rest of the increase is to be ignored.

The chart below illustrates the numbers. While base state aid increased only slightly, both total state aid and total spending increased much more rapidly.

We have to ask this question: Are those who use figures like this to make the case for more school spending merely misinformed, or are they deliberately misleading citizens and legislators?

Kansas school spending

By the way: since the Adequate Yearly Funding site is in support of education, is it being too picky to expect proper use of words and language? Twice the site erroneously creates the plural form of a noun: “If you’re creative and enjoy creating interesting and catchy slogans and logo’s please email them …” Then there’s this: “We now have approval to hold our march on capitol grounds, Ann Mah one of our area legislators (and great advocate for education) has graciously sponsored the march.”


One thought on “Kansas school spending advocates on the numbers”

  1. Bob,

    I think you’re being too picky regarding the grammar used on the Adequate Yearly Funding site. It’s likely that the editors attended Kansas public schools prior to the huge influx of tax dollars. ;-)

    Excellent article! I wish my income increased at the same rate as the total spending per student. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to receive the improved test scores promised to correlate with the staggering spending.

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