2021 Legislative Talking Points

House Bill 2068 and Senate Bill 61

Expanding Tax Credit Scholarships

  • Tuition tax credits are promoted to give students and families more choices, private schools under the program can continue to select students they enroll in and the programs that they offer. They can also have different, academic, discipline, and other requirements than public schools. As a result, not all students – and taxpayers – can make this choice. 

  • Although promoted as helping at-risk students, the bill does not require participating students to have any academic difficulties. They can be succeeding in public schools and still be selected to attend private school over students who are struggling. The change in criteria makes it less likely that the highest need students will participate. 

  • As a result, expanding the programs is a step towards a two-tiered system, with publicly aided private schools able to serve students with limited needs and public schools serving students with more challenging academic and emotional needs. 

  • Because school funding is based on enrollment, if students move to private schools’ public districts receive less funding. That is particularly a problem if public schools continue to be responsible for the highest-need students. 

  • Participating private schools are required to be accredited by the Kansas State Board of Education OR a national or regional accrediting body approved by the State Board for teacher licensing purposes. However, schools not accredited by the State Board are not required to give state assessments or provide academic progress.

House Bill  2119

Voucher/Educational Savings accounts

 

Board of Education Members

Talking Points

  1. Vouchers take away funds from public schools. Fewer dollars makes it more difficult to provide for quality education.

  2. Vouchers do not improve academic performance. In a review of results from private and public schools, there is little evidence that students in private schools outperform public schools’ students.

  3. Under this legislation, private schools can discriminate if they wish. Public dollars should not go to schools that do not accept all students. Examples of students that private can deny are Special Education students, lower academic performing students, religious minorities, non-religious students, LGBTQ students and families, minority students.

  4. Under this legislation, private schools are not required to meet the same standards as public schools. Examples include Teacher qualification, testing, and achievement reporting.

  5.  Under this legislation, private schools can actually be harmful to students that are in greater need. Students that leave public schools with a voucher may give up protections provided by special education laws. Private schools do not have the resources that public schools have for underperforming students.

  6. During the current pandemic and the uncertainty of the state’s current fiscal situation, it seems unreasonable the legislature would divert public dollars to schools in a separate system.

Parents other Taxpayers

Talking Points

  1. Private schools are not required to accept all students and can discriminate in admissions, can operate under different rules of transparency and accountability, can ask parents to waive their children’s access to special education services, and can require religious instruction to the exclusion of all but one.

  2. School vouchers are not a proven strategy for improving student achievement. Studies of U.S. and international voucher programs show that the risks to school systems outweigh insignificant gains in test scores and limited gains in graduation rates.

  3. Beyond these ethical and constitutional problems of inequity, evidence warns against the implementation of such programs. Studies have demonstrated that students who used vouchers experienced worse academic outcomes than their peers.

  4. Studies of voucher programs found that students who received vouchers showed no improvement in reading or math over those not in the program.

  5. This legislation would allow students to access public dollars for private school tuition regardless of the performance of the public school they attend, including high achieving and improving schools.

  6. Non-public schools are not held to the same level of accountability and transparency as public schools. It is possible that these students could be doing worse. This legislation could take millions of public dollars out of the state general fund pool to fund services for students whose special needs are not provided for by the state school finance formula.

  7. As parents and taxpayers, it seems that the prudent course of action would be to commit to continuing to restore state efforts on the existing public education.

  8. During the current pandemic and the uncertainty of the state’s current fiscal situation, it seems unreasonable the legislature would divert public dollars to schools in a separate system

 

Teachers & Staff

  1. This bill would expand the use of Kansans’ taxes to send students to private schools, which face fewer, accountability requirements for student outcomes than public schools.

  2. Private schools that do not participate in the state school accreditation program where student performance results are reported, would be eligible for state tax funding under this legislation.

  3. Private schools will face no oversight for the expenditure of taxpayer dollars under this legislation.

  4. Under this legislation, there is no requirement that would prevent private schools from selecting and recruiting high achieving students, both academically and athletically, while denying education to students who need more help.

  5. This legislation would allow private schools to deny admission based on religion, gender, sexual orientation, or performance on an admissions test and still receive taxpayer funding.

  6. There is no requirement that would prevent a private school from denying children entrance because of a learning disability or behavioral challenge.

  7. This legislation would reduce revenue for public schools, which has yet to be restored to full funding levels, and other state priorities are unfair because they increase the tax burden on everyone else, including struggling Kansas families.

  8. During the current pandemic and the uncertainty of the state’s current fiscal situation, it seems unreasonable the legislature would divert public dollars to schools in a separate system.

SB 173

Extending density at-risk weighting

  •  Based on legislation that passed the House in 2020 and was modified by the Senate Education Committee. These changes reflect input from various education organizations, including USA-Kansas, KSSA, KNEA, and KASB. Many of these changes were prompted by a Legislative Post Audit from 2019. 

  •  Require school districts to implement at-risk educational programs and services that  provide  additional  educational opportunities, interventions, and evidence-based instruction using the at-risk best practices identified in state law

  • extends the high-density at-risk weighting to June 30, 2023

  • The purpose of the at-risk student weighting and the high-density at-risk student weighting is to provide students identified as eligible to receive at-risk programs and services with evidence-based educational services in addition to regular instructional services.” It also directs that the “portion of such state foundation aid that is directly attributed to such school district's at-risk student weighting and high-density at-risk student weighting, if any, shall be transferred to the district's at-risk education fund.”  These are current practices

  • support for instructional classroom personnel designed to provide training for evidence-based best practices for at-risk educational programs

  • requires the state board to provide a list of approved at-risk educational programs to each school district and publish the list on the department's website, and limits expenditures from a school district's at-risk education fund to any programs or services on the list of approved at-risk educational programs, unless such program is a provisional at-risk educational program

  • establishes “provisional at-risk programs,” defined as “an evidence-based at-risk educational program or service identified or developed by a school district as producing or likely to produce measurable success that has been submitted to the state board for review,” and limited to a three-year period prior. Basically, it allows districts to “experiment” with programs for three-years, after which the State Board determines if it may be an approved program.  .

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