Kansas Federal Education Dollars Go To Florida, Tennessee...
Approximately $42 million in federal taxes paid by Kansans went to pay for the education of students in a dozen other states.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded $5.3 billion in six grant competitions including "Race to the Top." That tax money was from citizens in all 50 states. But nearly all of the payout went to the handful who would comply with new federal education policies. This included paying teachers for raising students’ test scores, ditching tenure, etc.
Criteria for the federal "competition" were mainly written for states with larger urban populations. Kansas and some other rural states opted to not compete in the final round. Predictably, no grants were made to western continental states.
The February 23 issue of Education Week details the distribution of federal education money. Citizens in the majority of states, including Kansas, should be unhappy.
Kansas is just under one percent of the U.S. population and pays roughly that proportion of taxes. The Kansas portion of tax support for the education competition should be about $53 million. And Kansas did receive $11.2 million for data-systems, or $23.73 per student. That means that about $42 million in Kansas taxpayer money went to underwrite implementing federal education policy in other states.
Who were the "winners"?
Florida received over $900 million or $344 per student. The District of Columbia, probably in a gesture to Michelle Rhee’s tough stand on failing schools, got $1,532 per student. Pork tastes pretty good in Tennessee too, where ex-Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander’s state saddled up to the trough for $533 per student. Hawaii received an extra $417 per student. Delaware received $949 per student and New York, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Rhode Island and Massachusetts received from $516 down to $244 per student.
These awards were not given out on a needs basis in order to help poor states where many students live in poverty and schools cannot hire superior teachers. If that were the case, states such as Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana would have headed the list.
Many Kansans might see a compassionate need to help out a disadvantaged part of the country. But no, these grants went to some fairly wealthy states merely because they were willing to roll-over and implement federal education "reforms."
Before those of us in Kansas begin lamenting how four-fifths of our tax contribution to this effort went to other states, consider the plight of Alabama, Indiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Their portion of tax money paid toward this effort got them nothing in return. Those ten states received no competitive grant money at all.
Will federal extortion of education policy end? Not according to the 2011 State of the Union address given just three months ago: "...instead of just pouring money into a system that's not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all 50 states, we said, ‘If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we'll show you the money.’ Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation.... And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that's more flexible and focused on what's best for our kids.:"
But the figures provide a better argument for eliminating the U.S. Department of Education and returning the education tax money to each state that provided it.