••• Education •••

Public education data important as 2023 legislative session approaches

Education will be a key focus when the 2023 legislative session begins next month. Issues dealing with transparency, accountability and school choice will undoubtedly be on the table as the Legislature grapples with the changing landscape of post-pandemic public education.

Kansas public education continues down the road of higher spending and lower achievement. Despite the additional COVID-related federal funding of hundreds of millions of dollars to address learning loss, learning loss persists as evidenced by state assessment, ACT and recently released 2022 NAEP scores. Will the Kansas public-school monopoly continue its stranglehold that keeps the state from paving the way for educational alternatives, or will Kansas finally follow the lead of other states that are expanding school choice options? Will the Legislature deal with two other prominent issues, transparency and accountability, which heretofore the education establishment has evaded?

Having relevant and concise information are vital tools in understanding this dismal state of public education, particularly when it comes to spending and student achievement. An excellent source for this data is in KPI’s annual public education FactBook. (The 2022 edition can be accessed here.) It is an invaluable resource of data on overall spending, per-pupil spending, assessment results, employment, enrollment and much more. The information provided is on multiple levels – statewide, districtwide, and nationwide – and for multiple years, some information goes back several decades.

In order to address these and other relevant questions as they apply to Kansas, it is vital to have accurate and complete information regarding spending, achievement, employment, enrollment and other pertinent data that is stored in the FactBook. As the saying goes “Knowledge is Power” and there is a tremendous amount of knowledge in the FactBook.

For example, the FactBook shows how education spending has far outpaced inflation over the past 30 years, while simultaneously student achievement on all reliable measures continues to fall.

The 2023 FactBook will be available early next year. Be cognizant that all data comes from official sources. Most come from KSDE, but data is also gleaned from the governor’s office, federal sources, and proprietary results obtained from ACT.

Both digital and printed versions of the current FactBook are available. The digital form can be accessed by following the above link. A printed edition is available upon request. It is a great research tool to have at your disposal and is easy to carry. And despite sounding as if it would be very bulky, it’s actually only about the size of your phone.