There are two aspects to the Paul Mirecki matter that I haven't seen discussed, or discussed only in passing.
Posts published in “Education”
In Kansas, according to Standard & Poor's Statewide Education Insights, about 60% to 70% of students are proficient in reading, as evaluated by the Kansas state reading test. But on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, only 33% to 35% of Kansas students are proficient. A similar discrepancy exists in the math test scores.
In Lake Wobegon, "every child is above average," Garrison Keillor says. In my personal experience, I can't think of any parents I know who don't have children who are not gifted or doing much better than average. After learning about the theory of Multiple Intelligences in chapter four of this book, I now know why all children are gifted.
In the October 14, 2005 Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger wrote about an elementary school in Little Rock, Arkansas that experienced a remarkable turnaround in student achievement. This poor school, where 92% of the students live at or below the poverty level, was able to increase its scores on an achievement test by 17% in one year.
The Wall Street Journal, in an article titled "Ethnomathematics" (June, 20, 2005, available at this link, although registration may be required) tells us of the transformation of mathematics from a universal language and tool for understanding and problem-solving to a "tool to advance social justice."
Corruption in the Public Schools: The Market Is the Answer
by Neal McCluskey
Click here to read the article.
This is an excellent article that shows how free markets can provide the best education for our children.
On the surface, it would seem that having government bureaucrats in charge of educating children would produce good results. For a time in America, it did. But not now. As Milton Friedman said in his commentary "Free to Choose" published in the Wall Street Journal on June 9, 2005:
"A Nation at Risk" stimulated much soul-searching and a whole series of major attempts to reform the government educational system. These reforms, however extensive or bold, have, it is widely agreed, had negligible effect on the quality of the public school system. Though spending per pupil has more than doubled since 1970 after allowing for inflation, students continue to rank low in international comparisons; dropout rates are high; scores on SATs and the like have fallen and remain flat. Simple literacy, let alone functional literacy, in the United States is almost surely lower at the beginning of the 21st century than it was a century earlier. And all this is despite a major increase in real spending per student since "A Nation at Risk" was published.
As the Kansas Legislature prepares to meet to consider school financing, it is a good time to reflect upon the state of our public schools.
Beneath the Radar
by Richard Nadler
On June 3, the Supreme Court of Kansas issued a ruling requiring the state legislature to appropriate an additional $853 million per year to Kansas schools, K-12. The basis of the decision, said a unanimous court, was a clause in the Kansas Constitution: â€œThe legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.â€
The increase equals roughly 20% of the stateâ€™s entire general revenue budget.In comes at the end of a fifteen year period during which Kansasâ€™ expenditure per pupil doubled, exceeding the rise in consumer prices by 29%.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court refused, in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, to â€œequalizeâ€ school spending. No trend better illustrates judicial activism than the steady stream of state school finance decisions that followed. From Connecticut to California, liberal courts have broken legislative budgets and spending caps.â€œEqualizationâ€ has served as a pretext for tax increases in some states, and for attacking local control of schools in others.Indeed, â€œschool finance litigationâ€ has become a multi-billion dollar business, commanding its own corps of specialty lawyers and expert witnesses.
Wearing a Black Robe to Make Sausage
by Bob L. Corkins
April 22, 2005
Want to create new laws without legislators? Then watch the Kansas Supreme Court for the next few weeks to see how it's done.
Like pride for trophies on a mantle, trial lawyers boast of cases where they convinced a court to declare the birth of a new duty. Persuade a jury that somebody owes a responsibility to someone else, even if there's no agreement, precedent, or statute providing a basis, then collect damages after showing the duty was breached.
If the decision holds up on appeal - Presto! - a new law is born. You don't even need to mess with a jury when a single judge is tabbed as the official "finder of fact".
Plaintiff school districts found just the judge they were hoping for when they filed their billion dollar Montoy v. State case challenging the fairness of Kansas' K-12 education funding plan. The trial judge ruled that the state aid formula was both inequitable and under-funded. The Kansas Supreme Court now appears ready to uphold that result, but with one major twist in reasoning.
Any discrimination of our laws is traditionally evaluated with the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. In the Montoy trial court's opinion, disparities in K-12 funding caused "a clear denial of equal protection of the laws in contravention of both the United States and Kansas Constitutions".
A press release from Kansas House Member Frank Miller, Republican from Independence.
Further Regarding The Sebelius Court Order
June 9, 2005
Thank you for your many responses to my last press release. I appreciate getting both those that agree with me as well as those that disagree with me. The responses are running about half agree and half disagree, however most of the â€œdisagreesâ€ are from educators. The pile of agree responses cut across a broad range of constituents in my district. As far as my meetings with individuals, the consensus is running almost 100% agree that the Sebelius Court has overstepped its authority. Letâ€™s face it â€“ most voters want to hold their elected legislators responsible for making laws, levying taxes, and appropriating funding. Who wants to have a few non-elected judges make these kinds of decisions?
Some have asked me â€œhave we read the Constitutionâ€ â€“ the answer is â€œYESâ€. Some say the legislature must obey the Sebelius court if they have a genuine concern for the children â€“ the answer is â€œwe doâ€, but we also have a concern for the parents of the children, and for those couples who have no children and retired citizens. The amount of tax that comes out of the pockets of the parents also hurts the children.
On the surface, it would seem like smaller class sizes would produce better educational outcomes. Intuitively, this makes sense.
Research tells a different story, however.
Following is a press release from Kansas House Member Frank Miller, Republican from Independence. I think he assesses the situation accurately.
Kansas Supreme Court By-Passes Voters Right to Representation
I am shocked and very alarmed that the Kansas Supreme Court by a unanimous decision would so boldly by-pass the authority of the legislature and directly appropriate funding for governmental functions.
The Kansas Supreme Court's school finance decision is deeply flawed both in substance and in procedure. This five page judicial edict (www.kscourts.org see case no. 92,032) announced January 3 is designed to pressure the legislature into voting for more spending for public schools without saying by how much. Many tax and spend advocates are now claiming the court is requiring a tax hike, but no such specific language is contained within this decision.
The powerful and left-wing National Education Association's Kansas affiliate is working hard to raise your taxes. In a February Olathe News article Terry Forsyth, one of the Kansas National Education Association's (KNEA) lobbyists, is quoted claiming that there is no correlation between taxes and job growth.