1. Dramatically slow high tech upgrades.
There is no evidence that replacing a whiteboard with
a $20,000 “smartboard” in each classroom improves students’
education. It impresses parents but drains money equal
to half a teacher’s salary. Any administrator can tell
you that the every-five-year turnover of computer technology
and tech systems are draining massive resources.
2. Severely restrict virtual education.
A 2009 USDE meta-analysis found no rigorous studies
of K-12 virtual education. Veteran teachers know effective
online education is limited to a few students mature
enough to study on their own. Virtual education courses
take high teacher-to-student ratios and are also dependent
on high-cost equipment and turnover.
3. Rescind all of the recent masters
programs offering initial licenses in teaching. Training
is a bachelors-level task. Teachers need more depth
of study–a bonafide masters–in their content field to
gain the higher pay level. Kansans will begin paying
millions extra per year for teachers given masters credit
for teacher training—paying premium for regular. Similar
out-of-state MATs should not be recognized at masters
pay grade either.
4. Sharply curtail concurrent enrollment,
where high school sophomores-to-seniors take coursework
for college credit. Designed to give the rare “Doogie
Howser” a head start, every parent thinks they have
one. Only high school seniors attending on-campus college
work should receive the college credit. Cheap courses
in the end erode the value of real degrees.
5. Start coordinating higher education.
Tech schools should be offering technical training,
not general education courses. The minimal requirements
for community college outreach instructors should be
enforced. If KBOR cannot “coordinate” this, then it
is time for the Legislature to move tech schools and
community colleges back under the State Board of Education.
6. Kansas should underwrite ACT tests
for all high school students. One ACT can replace more
costly K-12 school assessments, continuously redesigned
by test companies and taking up substantial classroom
7. Raise the Qualified Admissions (QA)
ACT requirement to a “hard 20." No student with
a 14 can ever successfully complete a bonafide bachelors
program. But for the one out of 10 who have a score
of 18 that may succeed, Kansas is underwriting nine
others who cannot. Today, we can no longer afford it.
This change in QA needs to be effective immediately,
and apply to all public tertiary institutions.
8. Moratorium on all assessments (except
ACT) at all levels. As the farm saying goes: the more
time you spend weighing, the less time you have for
feeding. Schools from pre-kindergarten through graduate
school are putting huge resources, both money and time,
into assessment. Doing good and proving you are doing
good are “zero-sum”; when we have to cut, we need to
preserve the “doing good.” And there is much money and
faculty time to be saved by dropping most accrediting
bodies that today do little to certify quality.
9. School consolidation needs to move
faster than the current voluntary but haphazard rate..
is substantial money (and better use of limited high-quality
teachers) saved in a more extensive and well-planned
statewide consolidation. The savings will not accrue
until after 3–5 years, but this Great Recession is with
us for many years.
10. Stop NCLB and close the U.S. Department
of Education. Everyone pays federal taxes so no state
dares pull out of No Child Left Behind. To do so, we
would have to forfeit “our fair share” of the tax revenues
we paid, about $175 million in Kansas or 15 percent
of our education budget. The “Race to the Top” $4 billion
will go to just a few states that follow federal ideas
of education reform—that is a pure re-allocation of
everyone’s tax dollars to a few. Education is different
in rural Kansas than in urban centers or the coast.
Education policy should rest where the tax dollars are
spent, so that education mandates do not run away from
those who must pay for them.