Shortly, voters in Emporia’s school district will be receiving ballots for the proposed $78 million bond issue for safety and security; addition and renovation of academic space; building systems and improved traffic flow.

My purpose today is not to influence your vote. I spoke two weeks ago about my support for this bond and my trust in the work of our school leaders. Today, I am cautioning voters about the efforts from the outside to influence this election.

That opposition is coming from the Kansas Policy Institute. Steve Rose, a highly respected Kansas City journalist, recently wrote the following about this group.

The Kansas “Fallacy” Institute, er, I mean Kansas Policy Institute, headquartered in Wichita, is called a think tank. But that is a misnomer, because the folks who crank out numbers there don’t really think about issues at all. Rather, they take a preconceived notion that government and schools are enormously wasteful and inefficient, and then concoct absurd calculations to make it seem so.

To what end does the institute spew out its gross distortions? Its stated goal is to shrink government and to dramatically lower taxes. I would add: Regardless of the possible negative effect to services. The institute never seems to conclude that the public is being served well, and that our exceptional quality of life is something worth spending a little more on.

Founded in 1996 and reportedly funded by the billionaire Libertarian Koch brothers of Wichita — who hate virtually all government — the institute publicizes its phony numbers that are then embraced by vocal radicals, who spew them so often, the public starts to wonder, “Hmm, maybe there is truth to those claims.”

The institute knows the public usually does not have either the time or inclination to get the details of the real story. The headline numbers stick, not the long, boring details of the truth.

Two of the primary targets of Kansas Policy Institute are local schools and local government — entities that have been doing a magnificent job of providing the community’s enviable quality of life.

Let me repeat Steve Rose’s warning that the institute publicizes its phony numbers that are then embraced by vocal radicals.

That’s happening locally, as the Kansas Policy Institute has been assisted locally by a group that are disciples of the “always-cut-taxes thinking espoused by the Sam Brownback crowd.

Hopefully Emporia patrons won’t be fooled. Please get the facts and vote, our kids need you.

I’m Steve Sauder

(47) comments

KB Thomas

Tom D'Ambra Ep. 11 False Flag Operations YouTube

KB Thomas

It is sad that young people do not get the facts about what is going on in this country. Review Ep. 11 False Flag Oprations. Does ABC expose the shadow government.

KB Thomas

Seek truth and manifest knowledge. Take the time to review this profound video. Tom D'Ambra-Headlines, Measure of Society, YouTube.

KB Thomas

Please review the video concerning propaganda Tom D'Ambra The Use of Propaganda. YouTube. All the networks including Fox News are a part of this propaganda apparatus.

KB Thomas

Please review the video Tom D'Ambra The Use of Propaganda. YouTube.

KB Thomas

Most people do not know the difference between a little transparency and a lot of transparency, and the answer is: a little transparency never hurt anyone. I close my case.

KB Thomas

The Rockefeller File Chapter 4 Power of Foundations. This chapter is a real eye opener.

KB Thomas

E.V. Debs was an agitator and sowed the seeds of socialism. Also Review: Interview: Obama Had Marxist Vision for US at Occidental College. Also review The Rockefeller File by Gary Allen pdf The Power of Foundations. The Rockefeller's founded the NEA and promoted Socialism in our schools textbooks and gave grants to higher education to promote socialism. These educators became intellectual prostitutes.

KB Thomas

Mr. Debs the only thing new in the world is the history you do not know. Go to the article McCarthy was right: There were communist infiltrators in America.



Mr. Sauder and I rarely see eye to eye but in this case we certainly do. Trabert is nothing but a pot stirrer. He uses just enough facts to make his arguments sound plausible to the casual consumer but if you know the subject matter you can see he constantly twists and spins things in order to make his anti-tax and anti-education agenda look good. If you look at his comment here he proclaims USD253 is lying to everyone by claiming the total cost of the project. If this bond will effect you financially then you own property. That means that you most likely have or have had a mortgage. Do you claim a $100,000 house was a $200,000 house because they paid interest on a mortgage? His claim that "the real cost to that homeowner is about $140 per year" again uses special creative math to try to justify a larger number than it really is. Trabert lives in the Wichita area. He has no children in USD253 and no interest in the community. His only goal is to draw attention to himself. Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt never got over the "red scare" she grew up with and saw a ussian hiding around every corner.

As for Trabert's claims about Emporia High School, per U.S. News EHS is ranked 35th in the state out of 357 high schools. Also, I have children in our school system. They routinely have homework and it is not unusual for me to help them with it. Groups are throwing millions at preschool literacy because we know it helps. Other countries have far more advanced preschool education systems than we do - we are just playing catch-up.

Most of our schools don't have storm shelters. We need better physical security at most of the buildings. The science classrooms in EHS are original, circa the early 1970's. EMS has 4 PE classes trying to use the same gym at the same time. This bond is needed.


KPI has biased agenda


Thanks for the info!


Great feedback, sarelon. You are a much needed champion of the schools. the Kochs have zero credibility. Trabert is just Charles Koch's parrot.

Ann Hathaway

The irony in Steve Sauder's choice of title makes me chuckle, "considering" the fact that more than half his article is comprised of an editorial written by someone else! Clearly Mr. Sauder has chosen Steve Rose as his "source" of information, rather than taking the trouble to avail himself of the actual facts and figures readily available from the Emporia USD 253 website. Mr. Sauder's "highly respected Kansas City journalist" had to resign his position at the KC Star for a disingenuous (at best, dishonest at worst) column he wrote back in January that resulted in a reprimand from a Star editor and a warning that Rose was playing pretty fast and loose with "the basic rules of journalism". Rose's column was pulled and he resigned. So I beg to differ about your choice of whom to believe on this subject, Mr. Sauder.

Mr. Sauder's "purpose today is not to influence your vote", but to warn you about the nasty KPI...who DID bother to gather their facts and information directly from the horse's mouth - the Emporia School District's own website. Steve Sauder accuses the KPI of being the "opposition", and of being an "outside" influence in this election. Wrong again, sir. Your uninformed slip is showing. The KPI, had you chosen to investigate yourself rather than simply quote a questionable "journalist", doesn't oppose your ballot measure, or anyone else's in our state. The Kansas Policy Institute simply wants Kansas taxpayers to be in possession of all the facts before they go to the polls, something that just is not possible if all they read is the mainstream papers and news mags, and all they listen to is your radio station. So, thank you, KPI and The Sentinel, for clearing away the smoke of mindless partisanship and giving us facts and figures that don't lie.


Terrific response. Thank you!

KB Thomas

Review the video: Norman Dodd and Stan Monteith The Enemy Within [Foundations].

Dave Trabert

Mr. Sauder's unfounded accusation of Kansas Policy Institute offers no proof to support his claim...and he can't because the facts we provide come from USD 253.

For example, the district is promoting the project as costing $78 million, but that doesn’t include interest payments. The USD 253 website says the total of principal and interest is $140 million.

Here’s another one. The district says the owner of a $100,000 home will pay about $34 per year in property taxes but that’s just a portion of the cost. The real cost to that homeowner is about $140 per year.

What’s missing? The difference – $106 per year – is the cost of about 9 mills of property tax being paid now on another bond issue. The authority to collect that 9 mills goes away when the debt is retired in about two years; unless voters approve more debt before then, that 9 mills of property tax goes away.

Emporia residents are being asked to keep paying that 9 mills of property tax and add about 3 more mills on top…for the next 28 years.

Kansas Policy Institute isn’t taking a position on what voters should do. Every resident should look at all the information and make their own decision on this important issue.


"Consider the source" is the best possible response to the bilge that Trabert, a long-time conduit for Charles Kochs' selfishness, trumpets.


Dave I'm all for transparency, but people spending an extra $12 a month to go towards a school shouldn't hurt them at all and if they have kids in school the are basically paying for it. If you are so concerned about transparency and dollars left on table you should tell everyone here the Koch Industries pays zero taxes which is not fair. It is very bias to call out how unethical it is for citizens to pay an extra ten dollar bill a month for a school, while you are closely knitted to an organization that pays less than taxes than a penny on the ground, and will not reduce the use of fossil fuel because it will make them make less money even though it could save the earth. Also, in your response in the Hay's post about an Emporia Professor disagreeing with your sentiment, you used confirmation bias by interviewing citizens of Kansas with this: "rofessor Smith apparently believes that government couldn’t possibly operate on less money, as he claims that reducing government spending will cause serious service cuts. The citizens of Kansas and even government employees beg to differ; a recent public opinion survey showed that 74% of Kansans (and 74% of government employees) believe state government could operate 5% to 10% more efficiently – and the data supports their belief. In 2012, Kansas spent 37% more per-resident than the states without an income tax. Every state provides public education, highways and social services, but some of them do so at a much better cost to taxpayers." Just because a majority of people believe in something does not make it right and most government employees were republican at that time who usually appose taxes. Furthermore the states with the highest taxes usually have better public services such as schools (New Jersey, New Hampshire, Mass, Vermont) and those with lower do worse Alabama, Missouri, West Va.

Dave Trabert

People have a right to know the facts, and that's what we're providing.

Speaking of the facts, the states with the highest taxes don't have the best education achievement. Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress refute any notion that more spending causes higher achievement. Over a dozen states spend less per-pupil than Kansas and get the same or better results.


Dave I will use your sources to do fact checking:

Kansas is 30th in overall Spending per Pupil at around $11,000 according to:

Many other sites have their ranking similar and similar figures in case you wanted to refute the source.

You claimed “dozen” of other states have better scores than Kansas and spend less; let me fact check that with your NAEP source:

2017 Kansas Grade 8 Math Rank: 20th states who spend less than them and do better according to the first link: Indiana, South Dakota, Colorado, and Utah (4)

2017 Kansas Grade 8 Reading Rank: 20th states who spend less per pupil and do better according to your sources: Indiana, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho (one new addition)

2017 Grade 8 Totals States Math: 5 out of a possible 20 states

2017 Kansas Grade 4 Math State Rank: 16th States who spend less per pupil and do better: SD, Utah, Florida, & Indiana

2017 Kansas Grade 4 Reading State Rank: 21st States who spend less and do better: NC, Kentucky, Colorado, Utah, Indiana, & Florida.

Total Grade 4 States Better who spend less for reading: 7 out of a possible 20 states

Grade 12 was not updated so no analysis was done there which leads to Kansas

being in the above 50 percentile.

Total Differing number of states overall 7 States. Out of the 20 States who spend less than Kansas; Kansas does better than more than half of them and out of the 7 states I mentioned NC and Kentucky only appeared for 1 of the 4 score profiles and they were within one point. Kansas ranked higher than the national average for both grade 8 and 4 reading and math.

To be significant IMO a state who spend less would have to perform better than Kansas in both reading and math for a given grade. The totals are as follows:

Grade 8: Utah, Colorado, Indiana

Grade 4: Indiana Utah

I believe you in that that throwing money at something won’t necessarily make it better, but spending no money on its chances will be even slimmer to improve. Also, besides the money factor there are so many other factors that determine success for schools

This is not a dozen. I have a hunch that you are trying to make spending money on education worse than it actually is. If my math is incorrect or I am going about my methods incorrectly let me know and post links for transparency in order to help change my mind. I am open to change if I can reproduce your findings that are not handpicked statistics with no source.


Dave I understand the Koch Brothers, if I inherited a business from my dad I'd do my best to carry his legacy to. Its your mission to tell people that paying something such as taxes will mean you have less money to spend on your kids, which can be true, but for hypothetical purposes what if paying more taxes lead to a higher net profit for a family overall in a fiscal year would taxes be viewed as a bad thing since it making them more money? Under many left leaning plans that would make US healthcare system to Canada this would be the case. Koch Brothers don't want that which means its your job to be "transparent" The quote below explains many conservative views to any sort of the idea of taxation is positive.

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." -- Arthur Schopenhauer

Dave Trabert

One cannot fairly compare average state scores on NAEP because there are very large achievement gaps for low-income kids and every state has a different demographic makeup. To compare states, one must compare scores for low-income kids and those who aren't low-income. I did that in this article

The eight-score composite (2 demos and 2 grade levels for 2 subjects shows Nine states (Indiana, Washington, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Montana, Oregon, and Texas) did better than Kansas while spending less, and five states (Colorado, Georgia, Utah, Idaho and Missouri) spent a lot loss but received very similar results. That's 14 states that spent less than Kansas and got similar or better results. My analysis used 2015 spending and 2015 NAEP results; the 2017 spending totals from NCES aren't published yet.


Dave how can you come to conclusion that Kansas schools are inefficient when only looking at a specific group? If you were to say, “ hey at risk kids are performing worse in Kansas per dollar than other states we need to help them out and figure out why they are not improving” I would be all for that.

In your article you fail to acknowledge the overall grand scheme of things—I presume purposely. For example, let’s say Texas economy is in a surplus but the United States is in a recession overall you wouldn’t say the United States economy is doing well. When I was asking for links and sources I was hoping by a third party not work you handpicked or performed yourself in hopes of confirmation bias.

I am sorry for my language but your hypothetical statement epitomizes how avaricious you and your fathers are. I’ll break it down (Graph on Dave’s page titled simulated cost per unit of output):

State 1 spends 15,000k per pupil graduation rate 90% cost per point 167 (15,000/90)

State 2 spends 13,000k per pupil graduation rate 88% cost per point 148

State 3 spends 12,000 per pupil graduation rate 80% cost per 150

You state option 2 is best because it is most cost effective, but at the costs of having less people graduate high school. That is so selfish so selfish you don’t care about kids. By your logic spending $6000 per pupil graduating 50% = 120 per person so it’s most effective. C’mon and you failed to distort that notion in your article.

You always say “. Kansas Policy Institute does not support or oppose candidates for public office, but we do provide educational information to the public about key economic and education issues facing Kansans” but seem to always be against anything that involves money toward the government.

Dave you’re old & rich, retire move to Florida and golf you’ll be so much happier trust me I’ve seen people go down this path and it is not worth it; defending yourself on the Emporia Gazette its actually embarrassing for someone of your stature. Imagine Brownback commenting on CJOnline or the Lawrence City manager on LJWorld they wouldn’t

Dave Trabert

Despite all your rancor, SeanRanklin, I note that you can't refute the facts I shared. And by the way, calling me rich is laughable.


Bitter?! Why would I be bitter towards you I'm sure your a nice guy we just don't agree on the future of Kansas/America. Dave what facts have I refuted, I read your page. I acknowledged it had factual information, but was skewed in a way that promotes "Kansas spends too much money on education" when the study was just looking at underperforming students in a state. I know your ideology is to be cost efficient as possible, but I think it is immoral to save money for the 1% and hurt the other 99%. Can you please respond to the facts with sources (not from KPI) and the fact that in your world spending 6000 per kid and graduating 50% of students is better than 12,000 and graduating 90 because it is cheaper and you save a buck think about the future. The fact you are only responding with 3 sentence rebuttals saying I am just mad is kind of funny, as I wish you would give more detailed and thoughtful response like I have. I should not of called you rich you are correct we are all mere peasants to Koch Brothers.


SeanRankin, I believe it was Ashley Walker who so eloquently once said, "We hide our poor well in Emporia." People spending an extra $12 a month to go towards a school shouldn't, as you say, hurt them at all. But in Emporia, it very easily can. According to, 17% of our family, friends, neighbors and colleagues are 60 years old and older, and many of them are living on fixed incomes and struggling to meet the ever-increasing costs of utilities, etc. According to, just under 23% of the residents in our fair community live in poverty. And our US News "remote town" location means residents must bear the higher cost burdens of travel for specialized medical care and municipal services that are provided without the cost efficiencies of scale. I am an avid supporter of education and certainly no fan of KPI, but the district has a heavy burden of responsibility to ensure that every cent it asks for is in fact truly needed and not just wanted because the uncomfortable truth is, in Emporia, someone could very well be doing without in order to pay for it.


CSD, thank you your response and you are totally correct. There is an opportunity cost with every decision and this 1000% can be one of them. My main issue is with how Dave is promoting this issue as the “the school board is lying and wants to take more of your money!” To be honest the point I'm driving home is that KPI corrupt as they are using data sets and handpicking in their favor such as only measuring at risk kids and then promoting it as an all kid issue in the state of Kansas in order to slant the readers of the gazette view to drive home that all taxes are bad.

I hate to be political here, but it tends to skew a conservative view (not all but most conservatives want taxes reduced) Then people of this town complain not having money for healthcare etc. after Dave told them to go against any one or thing that raises taxes so they vote against the people that will bring them these things ie this upcoming election Bernie Sanders (Free Healthcare) Andrew Yang (Universal Basic Income). Consequently, people could pay more taxes overall but retain more wealth at the end of the year all while having something such as free healthcare. Sounds like a win win for everyone except the Koch Brothers and their servants whom they pay 160K plus to but claim they are not rich.

People do not realize large corporations pay zero taxes through the tax code being so complicated and full of loopholes (150k pages long). Our nation could have free health care if Koch, Amazon, Apple, etc. paid their fair share or we could have UBI if we put a 1% tax on Wall Street trading (wall street would be bailing out taxpayers like we bailed them out in 08.)

Dave is trying hard to paint the light that are school district is corrupt because they didn’t provide interest details fully. School board probably should of done this but it should be inferred. That is like receiving a loan from a bank and then finding out you must pay interest on it later and being upset.

If you don’t like the bond that’s fine, but don’t take the advice from someone guy in a suit not from the area telling people there is interest on a bond (not CSD speaking in general terms) Ask someone reputable from the community such as the mayor city commissioners, etc. and then come to your own conclusion. I think a lot of people fall into the trap of going to some fancy presentation from a guy in a suit (KPI) and trusting everything he says without looking into the matter.

In a perfect world I think everyone would be for bond but at a reduced value maybe 60% to 70% of the original rather than this being a zero-sum game.

CSD, I am sorry that I did not think it would affect someone because of course it will, and thank you for posting validated trustworthy sources as opposed to Dave who cites his own site—which is like Alex Jones citing his own site lol.

My main issue from the start was someone being disingenuous and acting like he was doing the town of Emporia a favor by pointing out that there is interest on a bond. On Dave’s author page on KPI 8 of his last 12 articles are all criticizing the notion of public spending on schools. Like I said before he wants this as a zero-sum game for his bosses and not something where it gets negotiated down to where everyone can benefit.


Regardless of how you vote, you should not trust the Kansas Policy Institute.


Right. Case closed.


Actually, one should. I just checked to see if this was the website I have been cross-checking facts and figures that I found elsewhere, including government websites. Yes, one would want to believe that what they find isn't true there, but sadly, cross-checking it will prove that it is. Burying one's head in the sand works for some, but not for others. Yes, research takes time and effort, but anything worth doing does.

KB Thomas

Please review video Charlotte Iserbyt: The Secret History of Western Education & Scientific


Steve: We all know that you are butt deep in money, so more taxes mean nothing to you. In case you are unaware, most of the working folks are not wealthy, and never will be. The low paying jobs that our city leaders have no chance of changing. Our leaders talk about seeking high paying companies, but that is just talk, because those type companies will never settle here, for the simple reason that we have a packing plant located here. White collar workers won't move to a packing plant & dog food type town.

KB Thomas

I noticed that the video in my previous comment was taken down but Charlotte Iserbyt has many videos. Go to Charlotte Iserbyt on Education, Common Core & Solutions.

KB Thomas

My friend Steve, as you point your finger at the Kansas Policy Institute, when you say "consider the source" I notice 3 fingers pointing back at you. With your national affiliations, you are a part of the fake news. Review the video by Tom D'Ambra Ep.39 Who's Media What's Going On........Last week in Emporia 5 times retail sales people all under the age of 25 could not count back change and had to have assistance. One clerk could not figure out how much a dollar and 35 cents times two was. Most newspapers have had to print to a 4th grade level of reading. Ever since 1968 the education system has become an indoctrination system and in 1964 when prayer was taken out of the system and no paddles the system has become broken and kids are given drugs to cure misbehavior. Ever since the Reagan administration, Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt exposed the deliberate dumbing down of America. The goal is to merge the Russian system with the American system. Mrs. Iserbyt is a former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Department of Education. Go to the pdf The Delibrate Dumbing Down of America A Chronological Paper Trail. According to the Kansas Policy Institute Emporia High had an F rating in math in one of the classes. Even the Mason's are throwing millions of dollars at preschool literacy. This tells me something is very wrong with the system. Concerned parents around the world need to understand today's global management system which merges labor and "lifelong learning" with socialist ideology. 40% of the kids coming out of this fool system are the new millennium socialist and we the people let it happen because kids do not bring home work home but use the computer and parents are in the dark. 2 plus 2 equals 5 Core math. Please review The Secret History of Western Education: The Scientfic Destruction of Minds-Charlotte Iserbyt 1/5. By the way this is the model for all countries to follow.


Polly want a cracker, KB?

You seem to be channeling Senator "Tailgunner Joe" McCarthy. Quite the resemblance. "Eek, ma. There's a Socialist under my bed. Leave the light on, please!"


Sauder is spot on! Trabert is a liar and a fraud!

Dave Trabert

Do you have any facts to support your accusation?


I have facts and logic Dave.

Dave Trabert

I was asking Arborcat for facts to support his claim, but if SeanRanklin thinks he has facts to support the claim, he should put them here for public scrutiny.


I don't think you are a liar or fraud though so I think Arborcat statement is false I just think you are disingenuous and do not look at both sides of the argument check my post above. I do respect the fact you guys provide transparency, but your history of supporting Brownback Koch brother etc tax plan that was later changed by the political party that introduced it should tell you all you need to know about yourself.


"Put them here for public scrutiny" come on you have to defend yourself by going to a low traffic newspaper to defend yourself I think you are more scared of scrutiny than I am lol

Dave Trabert

We provide factual information that often isn't easily available to citizens. And I always ask people to document their claims, regardless of how many people may have seen it. We're willing to go anywhere and defend our work in public. As for the Brownback tax plan, we testified that the best way would have been cutting marginal rates for everyone; no changes to credits, deductions or exemptions. They didn't pass our recommendation but we supported the plan going forward because Kansans need tax relief and the state could have reduced unnecessary spending to balance the budget. Unfortunately, Democrats and many Republicans wouldn't vote to reduce waste...because they wanted a tax increase.


Mr. Trabert, cherry picking facts to suit your agenda is far from transparent. Claiming failure to cut waste being the reason


Mr. Trabert, you are not being factual about the Brownback plan, why should we believe you now about Emporia schools? The great Brownback experiment that was supposed to pay for itself with a shot of adrenaline to the economy failed miserably. Cuts were made repeatedly. By early 2017, Kansas had "nine rounds of budget cuts over four years, three credit downgrades, missed state payments", and what the Atlantic called "an ongoing atmosphere of fiscal crisis". To make up the budget shortfall, lawmakers tapped into state reserves set aside for future spending, postponed construction projects and pension contributions, and cut Medicaid benefits. Since approximately half of the state's budget went to school funding, education was particularly hard hit.

I would venture to guess that deferred maintenance during the Brownback cuts and underfunding of our schools is partially responsible for some of the costs we are now seeing covered in this bond proposal. I wonder if we would even need this bond had it not been for Brownback.

Dave Trabert

Yes, I am 'being factual.' It was media and tax relief opponents who made the claim about the tax cuts 'paying for themselves...' not the Brownback administration and not KPI. My book What was Really the Matter with the Kansas Tax Plan documents the many mistakes made by the Brownback administration, including spending more money while cutting taxes. Media made claims about '9 rounds of budget cuts' but state spending went up, and school spending also set new records.

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