The latest blog post from the Kansas Association of School Boards gets down to basics and tells us what Kansans are getting for their $13,300 per K-12 student.
“It sounds like a big number,” said Mark Tallman with KASB. “There’s polling where people seem to be surprised by that. What we wanted to do was a couple of things. First of all, remind people everything that goes into that number. That’s not just what, kind of, you might traditionally say pays for the teacher.”
Higher educational attainment results in more money in the student’s pocket as an adult.
“The more educated you are, the more lifetime earnings that people will have,” said Tallman. “If they graduate from high school or not. If they have some post-secondary education or not, if they have a four-year degree or not. That’s really the role of the educational system is preparing kids to be successful adults. One way we measure that is to give earnings and poverty and the prosperity of the state overall. Education clearly makes a big difference.”
The earnings difference between a high school graduate and a high school dropout in Kansas is over $5,000 per year; for attending some college up to an associate degree over $9,000; for a bachelor’s degree over $23,000 and for a graduate or professional degree $34,000. In fact, the estimated lifetime higher earnings for students who graduate high school and reach various levels of postsecondary education is almost three times the cost of a K-12 education.
“We often hear this kicked around that only about half the dollars spent get to the classroom,” said Tallman. “What that really means is, about half the dollars spent are spent on teachers and other support people. By the way, Kansas has one of the lowest pupil-teacher ratios in the country and I think people want that. I think, one of the most popular things parents want are relatively small class sizes, and we do that.”
Kansas public schools employ over 5 percent of Kansas workers, and pay about 5 percent of Kansas wages. Schools are often one of the largest employers in the city or county.