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School Finance and Education Equity: Lessons From Kansas.

  • Periodical
  • School Administrator. Oct2022, p22-22. 1p.
  • Article
  • Baker details the legislative and legal evolution of Kansasschool finance from the adoption of a new state constitutionaldirective in 1966 through the 2019 pre-pandemic efforts torecover from the failed Kansas tax rollbacks in the 2012. Reading & Resources Book Reviews School Finance and Education Equity: Lessons From Kansasby Bruce D. Baker, Harvard Education Press, Cambridge,Mass., 2021, 298 pp. with index, $34 softcover In School Finance and Education Equity, Bruce D. Bakerprovides a mix of biography, history and politics to analyze sixdecades of Kansas school finance debates involving stateofficials and local school district leaders. Baker writes that"school finance reform is a long, arduous process involvingpersistent multilateral forces", a reality that exists to somedegree in each state that pursues litigation as a remedy tostate under-funding of public schools. [Extracted from the article]
Full Text

AN0159607705;5ff01oct.22;2022Oct13.07:00;v2.2.500

School Finance and Education Equity: Lessons From Kansas 

Reading & Resources

Book Reviews

School Finance and Education Equity: Lessons From Kansas by Bruce D. Baker, Harvard Education Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2021, 298 pp. with index, $34 softcover

In School Finance and Education Equity, Bruce D. Baker provides a mix of biography, history and politics to analyze six decades of Kansas school finance debates involving state officials and local school district leaders. Baker was a new professor at the University of Kansas as the back and forth maneuvers among legislators, attorneys, courts and school officials unfolded. As the legal debate continued, he acted as a consultant to the plaintiff attorneys even after he moved to the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University in 2008.

Baker details the legislative and legal evolution of Kansas school finance from the adoption of a new state constitutional directive in 1966 through the 2019 pre-pandemic efforts to recover from the failed Kansas tax rollbacks in the 2012. This detailed examination may be of most interest to policy analysts, consultants and other professors as they seek to transfer the Kansas experience into the policies and personalities in their situations.

The book considers key characteristics of Kansas school finance litigation and resolution efforts in detail. Baker demonstrates how numerous lawsuits unfortunately were necessary to provoke legislative action even after the legislature commissioned studies documenting the need for action. He rightly notes that "no good school finance reform can go unpunished."

The book also digs into the special influence Kansas women in political and judicial leadership provide, the importance of evidence obtained from numerous, increasingly sophisticated school funding studies and the value of stable institutions (e.g., the state education agency, the courts, the media, the legislature, and a host of other advocates). Baker writes that "school finance reform … is a long, arduous process involving persistent multilateral forces," a reality that exists to some degree in each state that pursues litigation as a remedy to state under-funding of public schools.

While the book mostly details the unique circumstances that existed in Kansas, Baker's concluding chapter provides valuable insight for leaders in other states. He affirms valuable conclusions about schools funding: a) money matters; b) higher outcome goals cost more; and c) some students and settings cost more. However, because these conclusions are well known to most superintendents, I recommend that your scarce reading time be devoted elsewhere.

Reviewed by Brian L. Benzel

Brian L. Benzel former superintendent, Redmond, Wash.

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923110 Administration of Education Programs
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