The Kansas Legislature will take up the Supreme Court’s mandate to provide more funding for K-12 schools. But money alone will not fix the problem of having large numbers of students not performing well academically. Money is rarely the solution to the problems of educational systems.
The United States and Norway have the highest levels of spending on education, but their student academic results are low in comparison with many other countries. In any case, if more money is going to be poured into K-12 education, then it should be directed to a specific problem with the development of the means to fix the problem. Structural elements that cause low student academic achievement should be removed.
Some changes could be made rather quickly that could begin to solve some problems. One would be to introduce universal and voluntary pre-school. Many youngsters do not have people at home to work with them by reading to them and doing other activities that would help prepare them for entrance into formal education. Pre-school would help prepare students for kindergarten and would then carry over into other levels of schooling. Early intervention for special needs students is another proposal that could be introduced quickly. The earlier these students are recognized, the more likely something can be done to help them solve learning problems they may have.
Child poverty can also affect how well a child might perform in school. The child poverty rate in the United States is over 20 percent. Students who go to school hungry or are not in good health may not perform as well as they could. We should think about providing food for every youngster at school, regardless of the economic circumstances from which they come.