Public Schools: Vital and Underfunded

Economic research concludes there is a clear and compelling correlation between the median wages of the state and the educational level of the workforce.

Since the recession in 2008 and now, Kansas suffered a 16.5% decrease in funding for our K-12 public schools. Across the nation, this ranks as the fourth most severe funding cuts according to the calculations by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Even as our economy and tax revenues rebounded, Governor Sam Brownback and the Kansas legislature chose to severely cut funding to our schools.

In 2013 a three-judge trial court in the Gannon v. State case concluded that Kansas funding for our public schools is significantly underfunded. From the evidence presented, this court also concluded that the amount of school funding impacts school performance outcomes.

Full and fair funding of our schools makes a real difference in the quality of our children’s education creating an enriched learning environment. There is widespread agreement that enhanced school funding makes a very noticeable difference through smaller class size and the recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers.

These are a few of the benefits of full and fair funding of our public schools.

  • Education passes on to each child knowledge and skills that they will use throughout their lives. The cumulative benefits of education helps individuals explore more options and make better life decisions.
  • A better educated workforce leads to more research and innovation. Consequentially these benefits of innovation are then more widely distributed throughout a better educated community.
  • A vibrant, skilled workforce builds local economies and attracts new businesses.
  • A population that is better educated has more stable employment and increased tax revenues.
  • Higher education attainment is associated with lower poverty rates.
  • Communities with higher education attainment have improved public health and lower dependence on public health programs.
  • Public education contributes to bridging the gaps in measures of intelligence between wealthy and poor students.
  • Increased high school graduation rates are associated with lower rates of crime and incarceration.
  • As the economist Milton Friedman wrote, “the education of my child contributes to other people’s welfare by promoting a stable and democratic society.”
  • Effective education improves decision-making abilities helping individuals live better, healthier, and longer lives.

“A Well-Educated Workforce is Key to State Prosperity,” by Noah Berger and Peter Fisher, Economic Policy Institute:

“Most States Funding Schools Less Than Before the Recession,” by Michael Leachman and Chris Mai, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

“Kansas Schools Struggle With Recent Budget Cuts,” by Annie McKay, Kansas Center for Economic Growth:

“Pennsylvania’s Best Investment: The Social and Economic Benefits of Public Education,” by Dana Mitra, Associate Professor of Education, Pennnsylvania State University: