Read here for a critical analyses of high-quality, peer-reviewed journal articles that statistically examined the relationship between changes in the level or distribution of funding and the level or distribution of outcomes. The report provides sound evidence that "money matters, resources that cost money matter, and more equitable distribution of school funding can improve outcomes."

Education and the Kansas Constitution In 1859, Kansas founders made education a clear priority in the framework of our state’s governance structure. Four of the eight conditions established in the initial pages of our Constitution are devoted to establishing resources for public education. Article 6 further defines the state’s obligation for the provision of suitable finance for our public schools and the expectation for students’ educational improvements.

Kansas Constitution, Ordinance (1859)1  
... Be it ordained by the people of Kansas... That the following conditions be agreed to by congress:

1: School sections. Sections numbered sixteen and thirty-six in each township in the state, including Indian reservations and trust lands, shall be granted to the state for the exclusive use of common schools; and when either of said sections, or any part thereof, has been disposed of, other lands of equal value, as nearly contiguous thereto as possible, shall be substituted therefore.

2: University lands. That seventy-two sections of land shall be granted to the state for the erection and maintenance of a state university.

6: Proceeds to schools. That five percentum of the proceeds of the public lands in Kansas, disposed of after the admission of the state into the union, shall be paid to the state for a fund, the income of which shall be used for the support of common schools.

7: School lands. That the five hundred thousand acres of land to which the state is entitled under the act of congress entitled "An act to appropriate the proceeds of the sales of public lands and grant pre-emption rights," approved September 4th, 1841, shall be granted to the state for the support of common schools.  Read more...

Kansas Constitution, Article 6, Education (1859, 1966)2
Article 6 is comprised of seven sections that establish the state’s constitutional obligation, as it relates specifically to education. Sections related to K-12 education are noted here:

1: Schools and related institutions and activities. The legislature shall provide for intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement by establishing and maintaining public schools, educational institutions and related activities which may be organized and changed in such manner as may be provided by law.

2: State board of education and state board of regents. (a) The legislature shall provide for a state board of education which shall have general supervision of public schools, educational institutions and all the educational interests of the state, except educational functions delegated by law to the state board of regents. The state board of education shall perform such other duties as may be provided by law.

3: Members of state board of education and regents.    (a) There shall be ten members of the state board of education with overlapping terms as the legislature may prescribe. The legislature shall make provision for ten member districts, each comprised of four contiguous senatorial districts. The electors of each member district shall elect one person residing in the district as a member of the board. The legislature shall prescribe the manner in which vacancies occurring on the board shall be filled.       (c) Subsequent redistricting shall not disqualify any member of either board from service for the remainder of his term. Any member of either board may be removed from office for cause as may be provided by law.

4: Commissioner of education. The state board of education shall appoint a commissioner of education who shall serve at the pleasure of the board as its executive officer.

5: Local public schools. Local public schools under the general supervision of the state board of education shall be maintained, developed and operated by locally elected boards. When authorized by law, such boards may make and carry out agreements for cooperative operation and administration of educational programs under the general supervision of the state board of education, but such agreements shall be subject to limitation, change or termination by the legislature.

6: Finance. (b) The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state. No tuition shall be charged for attendance at any public school to pupils required by law to attend such school, except such fees or supplemental charges as may be authorized by law. The legislature may authorize the state board of regents to establish tuition, fees and charges at institutions under its supervision. (c) No religious sect or sects shall control any part of the public educational funds.  Read more...

1 Kansas Constitution, Ordinance and Preamble (1859).

2 Kansas Constitution, Article Six: Education (1859, 1966).

Publication of the
Kansas PTA Advocacy Leadership (2012).
Mary Sinclair, PhD
Karen Wagner


National PTA supports public school choice and acknowledges public charter schools as one of many avenues to improving student achievement. National PTA supports public charter schools provided the authorizing bodies and schools reflect the positions and principles of National PTA in charters granted and implemented. National PTA values all PTA units within or affiliated with public charter schools.

National PTA supports legislation or policy decisions relating to charter schools that meet the following conditions:

Charter Authorizing Bodies must:

  • Meet the highest level of accountability;
  • Ensure transparent charter application, review, and decision-making processes;
  • Meaningfully engage parents (any adult who has primary responsibility for the education and welfare of a child) in transparent authorizing, review, and decision-making processes, including the involvement of at least one parent on each charter school board;
  • Engage in ongoing, comprehensive charter school data collection and evaluation processes, and make that information available to the public in a manner that complies with applicable state and federal laws; and
  • Require performance-based charter contracts.

Public Charter Schools must:

  • Be open to all students and free of both tuition charges and fees that exceed state or federal laws;
  • Be supported by specifically allocated public funds in amounts that do not exceed and do not divert funding from non-charter public schools;
  • Be legally organized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization not affiliated with non-public sectarian, religious, or home-based school organizations;
  • Adhere to all federal and state laws that protect the health and safety of children, prohibit discrimination, ensure access for all children, and comply with the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Act;
  • Comply with federal and state laws governing public schools that require fiscal transparency, responsibility and accountability;
  • Provide all education stakeholders, including parents, with absolute transparency concerning both non-public funding sources and any external organization(s) with which the charter school enters into fee-for-service contract(s);
  • Ensure that professional staff is certified for the position(s) they hold;
  • Work collaboratively with parents to ensure meaningful family engagement in student learning and school success, including the presence of at least one parent on the charter school board; and
  • Adhere to mechanism(s) for periodic, independent data collection and evaluation to determine alignment with provisions of the stated charter and ability to meet or exceed expectations required of non-charter public schools.

Contact legislators NOW (click here).


Honorable State Representative and Senator,

I urge you to vote NO on the proposed Tax Plan.

The Kansas economy has been growing without the proposed tax cuts. 

Strong public schools and a well-educated work force are critical to maintaining this trend.

The risk is too high. We need the state to begin restoring education cuts, not sending Kansas on a race to the bottom.


We are counting on your NO vote for public education and Kansas youth.


[Your name, city or address]

Kansas PTA member


Action Alert in Brief:  Legislators in the House and Senate agreed on a tax plan yesterday (Thurs, April 26) that would cut an estimated $500 million of revenue for the state budget each year over the next five years (estimated at about $2.5 billion total).  To put this into perspective – the state cut $800 million from the education budget over the past three years or just a third of the proposed cuts on the table today. If the tax plan passes, past cuts will likely go into effect permanently and more cuts will follow, without significant increases to local property taxes. The economy has been growing without these tax cuts. The very real risk includes larger class sizes, more teacher layoffs, less instructional support for learning and teaching, more school closings, fewer resources for marginalized youth, fewer electives, more fees - to name a few. Standards are rising, demands for educational resources are growing. Take action today, so our Kansas children will be prepared for the demands of tomorrow.

For more details, see Kansas PTA Myth Busters series.


Kansas legislative negotiators agree on tax cuts

By JOHN HANNA. The Associated Press

TOPEKA -- Kansas would cut its sales, business and individual income taxes, eventually by at least $500 million a year, under a new plan designed to stimulate the state’s economy.

Negotiators for the Kansas House and Senate agreed on the plan Thursday. The compromise reconciles numerous differences between the two chambers over tax policy…
Read more here:

By Nancy Niles Lusk and Mary F. Sinclair, PhD, Kansas PTA State Legislative Co-Chairs


The Challenge. The best advocates for children are often under-represented in the August primary vote.  Parents hustle year round to keep up with the busy demands of raising their families, and late summer is no exception with the extra chores of shopping for school supplies and clothes to get the kids ready to go back to school.  Teachers return ahead of the kids to make preparations for the upcoming school year.  And busy or not, many just forget to vote the first Tuesday of August.

The Risk.  Low voter turnout can be problematic for pro-public education candidates in Kansas. The primary elections in particular draw only a small fraction of eligible voters.  In many districts across the state, however, the August primary election, not the general election, tends to determine who will become the state senator or representative.


The Solution. Increase voter turnout in the primaries among public school parents, teachers and other PTA members.  We can make a difference.  And for the first time, the PTA will have get-out-the-vote yard signs available for the elections. The PTA yard sign will serve as a visual reminder to parents and grandparents to make the time to vote.  We recommend putting the signs out in early July before the primary election August 7, and then again in early October for the November general election.


Vote for candidates who will support Public Education.  Consider these policy positions to determine who is a pro-education candidate:

  • Supports restoration of cuts to public education
  • Supports balanced tax policy to maintain reliable revenue
  • Opposes the use of voucher, scholarships or tax credits toward tuition of non-public schools
  • Opposes constitutional amendments to eliminate our state’s non-partisan infrastructure for public education
  • Supports policies that promote the recruitment and retention of quality teachers


A resource you can trust. The Legislative tab of the Kansas PTA website ( is a non-partisan source of reliable information on education policy and the votes made by our legislators this session (Vote Counts).  



The most immediate way to get signs will be to come to the 2012 Kansas PTA State Convention on April 20-22 in Wichita at the Doubletree Hilton by the Wichita airport and purchase them. 

Information on how to purchase yard signs after April 22 will be posted to the Kansas PTA website. Local PTA units are strongly encouraged to purchase a batch of signs for their membership.

The yard signs are priced at $3 each.

PTA defines advocacy as supporting and speaking up for children - in schools, in communities, and before government bodies and other organizations that make decisions affecting children.


For more than a century, PTA has provided families and child advocates with the support, information, and resources needed to focus on the health and education of America's youth.


Child advocates work with policy makers at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure sound policies that promote the interests of all children.


As the oldest and largest volunteer child advocacy association in the United States, PTA has had an indelible impact on the lives of millions of children and families. PTA’s legacy includes the creation of universal kindergarten classes, child labor laws, school lunch programs, a juvenile justice system, and local school wellness policies.


State laws can have a major impact on the health and education of our children. Involving PTA members in state and local advocacy is an important part of securing adequate state laws, funding, and policy for the care and protection of our children.


A legislator’s voting record is public information and within our guidelines to publish.


We encourage our members to work with state legislators to influence legislation, serve on local school boards, attend district meetings on topics of local and state budget cuts, work with school leaders and state education officials to implement PTA's National Standards for Family-School Partnerships, and volunteering on Parental Information and Resource Center (PIRC) boards to help guide and build relationships between PIRCs and state PTAs. (National PTA 2011-2012,


Refer to the PTA Nonpartisan Parameters & Guidelines for more details.

MYTH: Kansas public schools are “failing” because some fail to make AYP.

FACTS: Adequate yearly progress (AYP) is the process established by federal law to judge whether our public schools are on track to help students achieve, as measured by state assessments. The limited ‘failure’ of some schools to make AYP does not mean our public school system is failing. If for example, 290 students among 325 tested pass the state standards (89% of an entire student group), the school could still “fail to make AYP”.  By law, the target goal is to get 100% of students to standards by the spring of 2014. The line between ‘success’ and ‘failure’ to make AYP this current school year, requires about 90% of all student groups to meet state standards in math and reading, and have an average attendance rate of 90%, and a graduation rate of 80%, or growth toward the target goals must be at least 3% to 5% annually.1

Fact 1.  AYP is federal law.  AYP is a requirement of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and a central part of the law’s accountability component initiated in 2001. AYP is based on the premise that all students will achieve a defined set of standards by the 2013-2014 school year, including historically underachieving student groups:

  • low income families
  • youth with disabilities
  • English language learners
  • racial/ethnic groups.1


Fact 2.  Failure to make AYP does not mean our public school system is failing.  If just 5 youth in one of the smaller student groups scores below standards on the math assessment, for example, while the remaining student groups and student body as a whole achieve all the standards, the school can still “Fail to Meet AYP” and possibly the district. Despite successfully helping over
90% of its youth achieve state standards, such school communities have been labeled a ‘failure’.2


FACT 3.  AYP annual targets are always rising, as are the standards.   “Annual targets” refers to the percentage of students who must meet Kansas standards in order for a school to make AYP. When first mandated, the 2002 annual target was about 50% of students and has risen incrementally each year to the 100% target in 2014.3 In addition, Kansas standards are also rising with the recent adoption of the Common Core State Standards. More kids are expected to reach an even higher bar.


FACT 4.  Most schools and districts are making AYP.  In 2011, 84% of public schools  (1,148 of 1,367) representing 73% of  districts (211 of 289) made AYP.4


Fact 5.  Standardized test scores should  be interpreted with caution.   The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is not explicitly aligned with the Kansas standards as are the Kansas State Assessments. NAEP statistics are often strategically selected by public school opponents in an attempt to portray the illusion of failure (see KS PTA Myth Busters Issue 4). While these two rigorous tests are highly correlated, they are constructed differently each for their own unique purpose.  The tests, for example, emphasize different aspects of reading and math competencies. More importantly, these two assessments by law established different standards, also referred to as “cut scores”. For these methodological differences alone, NAEP scores should be interpreted with caution. In fact, NAEP itself isn’t sure what the cut scores (basic, proficient) measure.


“The [National Academy of Sciences] Panel concluded that "NAEP's current achievement-level setting procedures remain fundamentally flawed. The judgment tasks are difficult and confusing; raters' judgments of different item types are  internally inconsistent; appropriate validity evidence for the cut scores is lacking; and the process has produced unreasonable results"… A proven alternative to the current process has not yet been identified.5



1 KSDE (2011).  Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).  2011-2012 Fact Sheet.  See also The Center for Public Education (2006). A guide to the No Child Left Behind Act. Standards-based reform and a short history.

2 KSDE (2011).  K-12 Reports. Report Card 2010-11:School Adequately Yearly Progress.

3 KSDE (2012).  Kansas Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Revised Guidance for 2011-2012.  

4 KSDE (2011).  Public Schools and District Not Making AYP.

5 NCES (2009). NAEP Technical Documents.

Publication of the Kansas PTA Advocacy Team (2011).  

Debbie Lawson  

Nancy Niles Lusk

Mary Sinclair, PhD


MYTH: Kansas public schools are “failing” because NAEP scores are “low” and have remained relatively stable.  


FACTS: Kansas public school performance is consistently in the top 10 to 15 nationally, with at least 4 out of every 5 students scoring at or above basic performance levels. Every state in the top 10 except South Dakota spends

more per pupil than Kansas.1,2,3 While rank and per pupil expenditures are indicators of Kansas public schools’ efficiency3, the percentage of youth scoring at or above basic performance levels is a reflection of effectiveness.


… Some public school opponents are arguing that “proficiency matters, not rank.” Kansas PTA finds value in both types of indicators, as well as, a common understanding of the term proficient


Fact 1. Kansas public schools’ performance consistently ranks high. Kansas public schools rank 9th nationally and 3rd regionally on the combined 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) score - where 80% of all students’ combined scores were at basic or higher performance levels.1


Fact 2. Kansas schools continue making significant progress. About 85% (B+) of Kansas students performed at or above state standards in reading and math in 2010, up from less than 60% in 2001.1,4


More Indicators of Success . . .

Multiple indicators of school performance produce a more valid measure than any one single reliable outcome indicator can provide. Indicators of Kansas performance are excerpted here from KASB (2012):1

  • Student proficiencies in reading and math have increased 40% over the past decade on the Kansas State Assessments.
  • Over the past 10 years, Kansas improved high school completion rates across three different measures and all exceed the national average.
  • Kansas students have an overall ranking of 7th in the nation in college readiness.
  • College completion rates exceed the national average.  
  • Kansas public school achievement exceeds that of private school systems with similar students as measured by the state assessments.
  • Kansas ranks 7th nationwide among low income students on NAEP tests and exceeds the national average for the same population in private schools.


Fact 3. The performance bar is rising, from basic to proficientProficiency refers here to student achievement levels in relation to education standards. NAEP uses 4 levels of student achievement at each grade level in relation to national standards: below basic, basic, proficient, advanced. The Kansas Assessments use 5 levels: academic warning, approaches, meets, exceeds, exemplary. In keeping with federal law enacted in 2001, states across the country adopted standards and set the starting performance point, as mandated by law, at the lowest-achievement demographic group or school in the state.5 On average state standards align with NAEP’s current basic performance level.6  Today, 48 states and territories including Kansas are raising the bar beyond basic in alignment with recent changes to federal law and shifting standards to what NAEP now defines as proficient, where every single student is expected to be college and career ready.7



Notes.  Based on 2011 NAEP scores. Discrepancies in the original table are assumed to be due to rounding error. Kansas NAEP national rankings:  4th grade reading—14th8th grade reading—20th4th grade mathematics—7th8th grade mathematics—10th.



Kansas Association of School Boards (January, 2012). Focus on … what we know about student achievement and school improvement in Kansas.  Prepared by Mark Tallman.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2011). NAEP State Profiles.  

Education Law Center. (2010). Is school funding fair?   See also Standard & Poor’s Efficiency Study (2007). 

Kansas Department of Education (KSDE). (2010). Report Card 2009-2010. State of Kansas.   

No Child Left Behind (2001). Action Briefs. What is the process for establishing AYP?  

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). (2009). Mapping state proficiency standards.  

Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). (2011). About the Standards.   See also Kansas Common Core Standards Fact Sheet (2011-2012).

Publication of the Kansas PTA Advocacy Team (2011).  

Debbie Lawson  

Nancy Niles Lusk

Mary Sinclair, PhD




MYTH:  Kansas school districts sit on millions of extra dollars at the end of every school year.  So, why do the public schools keep asking the state for more money and laying off teachers when they have excess in their reserve funds?


FACTS: Districts’ cash balances are not ‘extra, excess’ money.  The June fund balances can be likened to a district savings or escrow account.  Districts essentially cannot exhaust their reserves because the dollars have already been allocated - most commonly for ongoing operating costs (e.g., teachers salary & benefits, vendors), capital outlay (e.g., bricks and mortar upkeep), bond and interest payments (e.g., debt), dedicated tax sources (e.g., new textbooks, student materials, summer school), or insurance and liability claims.1

Fact 1. Reserves prevent cash flow interruptions. Reserve funds safeguard districts’ ability to

pay vendors and meet payroll throughout the school year. Carryover is a critical accounting tool that allows timely cash flow between the continuous demand of bills and the periodic payments from state, federal and local sources that crisscross school years.  For example, the state’s first special education payment to districts does not come until mid-October two months after the school year begins and the second major property tax installment is made in June just as the school year is ending.


Fact 2. Mid-year cuts challenge local coffers and budget estimates. In 2009 and 2010, our elected officials cut the state’s contribution to public education mid-year.2 Local communities were left holding the state’s portion of the bill. The first time this occurred, districts’ options were limited after accounting for contractual obligations through years-end. Given subsequent lack of consensus and extreme differences among current legislators on how to balance the state budget, school boards have had to plan their based on the least amount of proposed state funding. This need to anticipate mid-year cuts and worst case scenario has required many districts to cut overly deep, which explains in part recent increases in July 1 fund balances.


Fact 3. Late payments from the state. The state has had its own cash flow problems, resulting in delayed payments to the schools.  Districts are required to pay their bills on time and reserve funds have enabled them to meet their obligations.


Fact 4. Districts total operating reserves equates to a few days’ worth of expenses.3 For the academic year ending June 2011, Kansas public schools’ total operating fund balance was just under $870 million (excluding capital, debt and federal funds).1  While a large sum, this amount is less than best practices recommends equating to about $3 million per district on average ($868,393,468 divided by 286 school districts). The Government Finance Officer’s Association suggests districts have 3 months of expenditures in reserve or $4.8 million on average ($5,589,549,135 / 286  districts / 12 months * 3 months).4


Fact 5.Limited impact of SB111. Not enough money is not enough money, no matter how districts are allowed to slice and dice it. House substitute for Senate Bill 111 is a one-year temporary provision passed by the legislature to ease restrictions and allow school boards and districts to spend selected unencumbered balances for general operating expenses. This short term accounting flexibility is not a long term solution for the significant state funding shortfall that has grown over the decades and has been exacerbated by recent economic problems (see Kansas PTA Myth Busters—Chronic Underfunding of the Base State Aid)5.


Fact 6.Even deeper funding shortfalls on the horizon. Additional reasons why districts may be cautious about spending down their reserve funds: $492 million in temporary federal stimulus money expires this year, a one-time transfer of $205 million from the state highway fund to the state general fund ends as well, and the portion of the 1-cent sales tax benefiting education is scheduled to expire June 2013.



1 Kansas Department of Education. Cash Balance Annual Reports (2011).

2 Kansas Department of Education.House Bill 2383. (May 2011).

3 Wichita Public Schools. Year-End Cash Balances (July 2011).

4 GFOA.  KSDE. Total Expenditures.

5 Kansas PTA Myth Busters.Chronic Underfunding of Base State Aid, Issue 2.

Publication of the Kansas PTA Advocacy Team (2011).

Debbie Lawson

Nancy Niles Lusk

Mary Sinclair, PhD


MYTH:  Why not cut education funds?  Everybody needs to tighten their belts and sacrifice.  Besides, education just got a huge budget increase a couple of years ago. The public schools already have billions of dollars.


FACTS: The 2006-2009 increase to the state’s education budget was the legislature’s correction for their nearly billion dollar shortfall to our public schools that accumulated over a 15 year period.1 Failure to keep up with inflation and to allocate funds based on actual costs severely eroded funding for classroom instruction as measured by Base State Aid Per Pupil (BSAPP).2



BSAPP—Base State Aid Per Pupil
is the starting amount of state fiscal aid each school district receives per student. Your legislators and the governor decide what this amount will be each spring.


Fact 1. Base aid is short $712 per pupil according to law.3  Before the national economic downturn, K-12 base state aid funding was already in the hole. This hole grew so deep over many years that a lawsuit was brought to the Kansas Supreme Court.1  Kansas legislators were found to be out of compliance with their own laws in 2005 for failing to “make suitable provision for finance” of public schools as required by our Constitution. The statutory base state aid was set at $4,492 for FY2010 and beyond, in alignment with cost estimates found in the bipartisan 2006 Legislative Post Audit study. Today’s base is $3,780. According to law then, the Legislature has underfunded our public schools by at least $712 per pupil. The $750 million dollar correction made between 2006 and 2009 has been eliminated due to cuts, even though the state is currently projecting a surplus in received revenues.


Fact 2. Base aid is short $1,961 per pupil according to inflation.4  Our elected officials have cut the operating budgets for our classrooms by about 34%, when the purchasing power of today’s base state aid is adjusted for inflation. Beginning in the 1992-93 school year when the school finance formula was first overhauled, the equivalent base aid for FY2011 would be $5,741. Today’s base is $3,780. According to inflation then, our the Legislature has underfunded our public schools by at least $1,961 per pupil.


Fact 3. Base aid is short $2,797 per pupil according to actual costs.2  If our elected officials adhered to the cumulative evidence validated by the Division of Legislative Post Audit and continued to adequately fund our classrooms, base aid for outcomes this school year would be $6,577.  Actual costs are nearly double what our remaining teacher’s, resource staff and administrators have at their disposal today to fulfill educational expectations that continue to rise. Today’s base is $3,780. According to rigorous bipartisan research then, the Legislature has underfunded our public schools by at least $2,797 per pupil. 


Fact 4. Public education is the primary responsibility of the states.  “Educating children is to the state government as national defense is to the federal government: it is the state’s primary function and the lion’s share of the state’s budget. And that is as it should be. …  we need to make sure we target our funding in the right places to give children the foundation they need for success” (Governor Brownback, 2011).5  But the opposite has occurred – classrooms have been stripped of adequate resources. Will the Governor fulfill his stated objective? If so, when? By speaking up, we can help hold him to his promise.



1Kansas Supreme Court Decision, Montoy v. State (2006).

2Legislative Division of Post Audit (2006).


4Bureau of Labor Statistics.

5State of the State Address (Jan 2011). Governor Brownback.

Publication of the Kansas PTA Advocacy Team (2011).  

Debbie Lawson  

Nancy Niles Lusk

Mary Sinclair, PhD