John Allison

What is the real problem at Wichita Southeast?

What is the real problem at Wichita Southeast?

There is likely a different explanation for problems at a Wichita high schools from what we've been told by the school district and our newspaper. Recently the Wichita Eagle editorial board opined about problems with Wichita Southeast High School. That editorial was based on Eagle reporting in the article The new Southeast High is bigger and better. So why is its graduation rate dropping? Sociologist Chase Billingham offers commentary and insight in his piece Southeast’s grad rate more about discipline: The Wichita school district officials and The Eagle Editorial Board said the slipping graduation rate was partially attributable to the…
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Briefs

Briefs

He didn't participate Wichita Eagle Opinion Line, November 24, 2017: "The kindest word that can be ascribed to State Senator Susan Wagle, when she criticizes the Kansas Supreme Court? Disingenuous. She never mentions Brownback appointee, Justice Caleb Stegall; he has repeatedly agreed with his colleagues on school finance." The likely reason Senator Wagle doesn't mention Justice Stegall when criticizing the Court on school finance matters is that he, along with another judge, hasn't participated. The recent opinions are signed "BEIER and STEGALL, JJ., not participating. MICHAEL J. MALONE and DAVID L. STUTZMAN, Senior Judges, assigned." Why? "Justices Carol Beier and…
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What are opinions of the level of Kansas school spending?

What are opinions of the level of Kansas school spending?

Part of the difficulty in understanding and debating school spending in Kansas is the starting point, that is, the lack of factual information. From 2012, a look at a survey that revealed the level of knowledge of school spending by Kansans. When asked about the level of spending on public schools in Kansas, citizens are generally uninformed or misinformed. They also incorrectly thought that spending has declined in recent years. These are some of the findings of a survey commissioned by Kansas Policy Institute and conducted by SurveyUSA, a national opinion research firm. In a press release, KPI president Dave…
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Kansas school finance lawsuit reaction

Kansas school finance lawsuit reaction

Following is news coverage and reaction to the Kansas school finance lawsuit Luke Gannon, et al v. State of Kansas. Press release from Kansas Supreme Court The court declared certain school funding laws fail to provide equity in public education as required by the Kansas Constitution and returned the case to Shawnee County District Court to enforce the court's holdings. The court further ordered the three-judge panel that presided over the trial of the case to reconsider whether school funding laws provide adequacy in public education -- as also required by the constitution. ... The court set a July 1,…
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More evidence of low Kansas school standards

A study of school testing standards has found that Kansas has low standards compared to other states. Kansas ranked forty-fourth among the states, meaning that seven states had standards judged to be weaker than Kansas'. The remainder of the states and the District of Columbia have stronger standards. The study also found that the Kansas standards have become weaker in recent years. The research was published by Education Next, a scholarly journal published by the Hoover Institution. Other sponsoring institutions are the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, part of the Taubman Center for State and Local…
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Wichita has school choice, they say

Writing in the Sunday Wichita Eagle, USD 259 (Wichita public school district) superintendent John Allison told Wichitans something they probably didn't know: Parents of Wichita schoolchildren benefit from the district's school choice program: First, investment in the Wichita public schools allows for remarkable parental choice. Much has been discussed recently about the choice we must give families in order to meet the needs of their children. In Wichita, we are proud that for more than 20 years, families have been offered choice through our district’s magnet school program. Nearly 30 percent of our schools have a unique magnet focus, enabling…
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Citizens generally misinformed on Kansas school spending

When asked about the level of spending on public schools in Kansas, citizens are generally uninformed or misinformed. They also incorrectly thought that spending has declined in recent years. These are some of the findings of a survey commissioned by Kansas Policy Institute and conducted by SurveyUSA, a national opinion research firm. In a press release, KPI president Dave Trabert said "As Kansans consider how to deal with the potential fallout from another school lawsuit, pressure to expand Medicaid, ballooning pension deficits and concerns about rising property taxes, we wanted to check again to see how perceptions of the facts…
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Kansas reasonable: The education candidates

As the Kansas primary election nears, candidates vie to see who is the "education candidate." It's part of the theme of the so-called "moderate" Republicans -- that they follow a tradition of "reasonableness" that, they say, is characteristic of successful Kansas politicians -- the "traditional" Republicans. Others call for a "balanced" approach to government and "responsible tax reform." Senate President Steve Morris contributes an op-ed in support of "incumbent senators who put their local communities above the agendas of these special interest groups." But when we look at Kansas schools, we find that most of the debate centers on school…
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Wichita school spending

Talking about Wichita school funding this week, district superintendent John Allison was quoted in Wichita Eagle reporting as saying "We’re still at 2001 funding levels." This claim is part of an ongoing campaign of misinformation spread by school spending advocates in Wichita and across Kansas. Mr. Allison may have been referring to a component of the Kansas school finance formula called base state aid per pupil. It has been cut, as shown in this chart that the Kansas school spending establishment uses. Kansas school spending, as presented by the Wichita public school district. But base state aid is only the…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday May 23, 2011

Wichita City council. As it is the fourth Tuesday of the month, the Wichita City Council handles only consent agenda items. The council will also hold a workshop. Consent agendas are usually reserved for items thought to be of non-controversial nature. Today's Wichita Eagle spotlights one item where the city is proposing to hire an outside firm to inspect the roof of the airport for damage from last September's storm. Some, including Council Member Michael O'Donnell (district 4, south and southwest Wichita) wonder why the city can't do the inspection with it's own engineering staff and resources. ... Of further…
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Wichita school chief makes plea to Wichita-area legislators

This afternoon, Wichita school superintendent John Allison appeared before the South-central Kansas legislative delegation, explaining Kansas school finance as it applies to the Wichita school district, and offering justification for deciding to join the lawsuit demanding the state spend more on schools. Referring to base state aid per pupil, which has been cut several times in the past year for a total of 9.5 percent (depending on who's doing the arithmetic), Allison said that base aid is the funding with which the district funds regular education, and the represents funds with which the district has the greatest latitude. Other funds…
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Kansas open records examined

Here's another outstanding investigative report by Paul Soutar of the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy. I have experienced some of the same obstacles that Soutar has encountered. Last year Wichita school district board member Lynn Rogers told me that record requests are a burden. Interim superintendent Martin Libhart's attitude was similarly hostile towards legitimate citizen requests for records. Indications are that new board president Barb Fuller and new superintendent John Allison have a better attitude towards records requests, and I hope that time proves this to be the case. The spirit is willing but the law is weak Paul…
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Challenges for Wichita’s new school superintendent

Recently John Allison, new superintendent for USD 259, the Wichita public school district, was interviewed by the Wichita Eagle. The article reporting on the interview is at Great time to be superintendent. In the interview, Allison mentioned "painful" budget cuts. The cuts that K through 12 education is facing in Kansas, however, are minor compared to what many other state agencies are facing. We should also remember that many school districts have plenty of money, so much so that, as I've reported, spending advocates will challenge anyone who mentions just how much there is to spend. Allison mentioned teaming with…
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