Governor Steve Beshear’s budget request increases funding for K to 12 education at a time when the state’s muddling economy can’t support much increase in revenue. So, to make his K to 12 magic happen, the governor is cutting funding for just about every other state agency besides education by amounts ranging from 2.5 to 5 percent.
Paradoxically, that includes a cut for the state’s postsecondary education system, an action that creates a potential face off between state’s cash-strapped universities and the K to 12 crowd, as this WFPL article points out.
To be clear, I have always felt that K to 12 education is very important. But, I also understand that no segment of the state’s economy – K to 12 included – can be held immune from inevitable laws of economics. Sooner or later, severe pain in one area is going to spread to the rest. There is no way to avoid that.
Most particularly, when many experts agree that getting a decent paying job in the current economy requires more than a K to 12 education, a budget proposal that serves only the initial half of the education system by penalizing the finishing part ultimately makes no sense.
Making this even worse, incomplete thinking is also found in Kentucky’s new K to 12 academic standards in math and science. Those standards fail to complete the entire job as well, cutting off subject coverage after 10th grade. This bad policy already is causing adverse consequences.
For example, following the governor’s override of a legislative committee vote in September that found the new science standards deficient, we learned in November that a Kentucky high school just dropped high school physics.
This is an almost inevitable consequence when the state’s standards ignore the subject.
Thus, in essence, the governor wants to increase funding for a segment of the education system which seems to be contracting its focus to only insure students get a 10th, not a 12th grade education. In a sense, the last two years of K to 12 schooling are now cast into a somewhat uncertain future along with all of the state’s postsecondary education system.
As the budget proposal stands, we could wind up spending more on the K to 12 segment of our education system that, absent some changes to the standards, may soon be providing only 11 of the 13 years of education we expect – a service reduction of 15 percent costing a lot more money.
That really makes no sense.