Quote of the Week: "Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand; the spines of others are often stiffened." - Billy Graham

PRESENATION ON K-12 EDUCATION FUNDING:

On Friday Feb. 23, Dr. Lori L. Taylor gave a preliminary presentation to a joint session of the Kansas Senate and House of Representatives on the methods, data, and analysis plan for her research on K-12 education funding in Kansas.

Dr. Taylor was hired by the Legislature in December to act as an expert witness and to investigate whether Kansas’ K-12 funding is adequate. This comes after the Kansas Supreme Court declared the current funding level is not enough and gave the legislature an April 30 deadline to create a new funding system.

Taylor, a native Kansan, holds a BA in economics and a BS in business administration from the University of Kansas and received her PhD in economics from the University of Rochester.

She is currently a professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and works as the Director for Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy. Taylor’s research is focused in school finance and she has consulted for numerous state legislatures and state and federal agencies on the topic.

During Friday’s presentation, Taylor outlined her study’s objective to estimate the level of spending required to produce a given outcome within a given educational environment. Taylor explained that she is looking at many different factors of school finance such as differences in spending, student outcomes, student needs, labor costs, geographical differences, and many other variables. One major variable Taylor will investigate in her research is student achievement relative to spending per pupil.

Taylor is expected to deliver her results to the Legislature by March 15, a few weeks before the court mandated deadline.

TASK FORCE ON SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER

On Thursday, Governor Jeff Colyer issued an executive order creating a task force addressing substance use disorder. The objective of the task force is to gather information regarding substance abuse in Kansas, particularly regarding the growing number of opioid and heroin overdoses in the state along with methamphetamine addiction. The task force will work to find useful resources and initiatives to fight drug abuse. It will also examine practices for prevention and treatment along with recovery options for at-risk individuals through early detection and education.

Since 2012, more than 1,500 Kansans have died from opioid or heroin overdoses and more than 100 Kansas residents continue to die each year. In 2016, drug poisoning was the cause of death to more than 300 people in Kansas, with 95 deaths caused by methamphetamine alone. The task force acknowledges that substance abuse is an illness which not only impacts the lives of those addicted but also their families and surrounding communities.

The task force will be chaired by Dr. Greg Lakin, Chief Medical Officer at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Membership will be comprised of heads from numerous state agencies, legislators, and professionals in industries such as education, law enforcement, hospitals, and more.