19 Oct 2015

O’Neal’s 65% is 100% Misleading

O’Neal’s 65% is 100% Misleading

Former Kansas Speaker of the House and current Kansas Chamber of Commerce President is back microphone sharing his old baseless rhetoric again.  To his credit he has been a consistent mouthpiece for his faction of the Republican party and those special interests he serves.

Mr. O’Neal’s push for requiring 65% of all public school funding to be spent “in the classroom” is 100% misleading.   In a Kansas City Start Opinion posted October 15th it was reported that spending in public schools in Kansas breaks down as follows:  61.4% classroom instruction, 5% student support, 9.8% physical plant operations and maintenance, 5.8% site administration costs and 2.6% district general administration costs.  All of those expenditures are directly or indirectly earmarked to benefit the students.

While he served in the legislature Mr. O’Neal was a leader in the push for legislative overreach to legislate the 65% encumberance.  Here is the real alarming piece of this- the 65% is a totally arbitrary and possibly a capricious number that is not backed by credible and unbiased research.  It is reported the 65% number began to circulate with the owner of Overstock.com who shared his personal thoughts on requiring public school budgets to commit 65% of annual operations budget to the classroom.

Here are the basic core concerns with this push:

  1.  Increased legislative overreach hamstrings each local district’s ability to adjust to meet their ever evolving needs.
  2. The party Mr. O’Neal represents defends against Federal oversight, at times turning away millions of Federal dollars away from benefiting Kansans,  yet at the same time they appear to be doing exactly what they are defending-  taking away local control of school boards and communities.
  3. The 65% spending requirement for classroom instruction is not backed by research and therefore could cause more harm to school districts.  This could compound the harm already created by failed trickle down economic policies and extensive legislative overreach.
  4. Smoke and Mirrors- the general public is being duped.  This is another strong arm attempt at controlling the cost for “administrators”.  It would be interesting to see comparable similar from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and compare them to the Kansas Public School District figures.  In addition, follow the income tax elimination money through the Kansas businesses and see where it goes?  It is a more than fair request and should ethically be provided to the citizens of Kansas because after all, this tax elimination benefit for business was gifted off the backs of public schools, universities, roads, social services and the vast majority of Kansans.

Mr. O’Neal is entitled to his opinion and he is not alone.  His position on setting an arbitrary mark of 65% of public school district annual operation budget being spent on “classroom instruction” is 100% wrong.


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