The state’s relentless cuts in education could hurt the whole country. By DAVID SCIARRA and WADE HENDERSON
Sadly we can not avoid the political conversation: When I add this alarming situation in our schools to recent stories about full time Wal-Mart and NYC bank employees who qualify for public assistance like food stamps, and the failure of our state and national legislators to take up the interests of middle class and working poor people I find we have lost the democracy our parents and grandparents defended and gained a plutocracy they would abhor. Just sayin' --Lou
"KANSAS, like every state, explicitly guarantees a free public education in its Constitution, affirming America’s founding belief that only an educated citizenry can preserve democracy and safeguard individual liberty and freedom.
And yet in recent years Kansas has become the epicenter of a new battle over the states’ obligation to adequately fund public education. Even though the state Constitution requires that it make “suitable provision” for financing public education, Gov. Sam Brownback and the Republican-led Legislature have made draconian cuts in school spending, leading to a lawsuit that now sits before the state Supreme Court..."
"...Parents filed a lawsuit in the Kansas courts to challenge the cuts. InGannon v. State of Kansas, a three-judge trial court ruled in January 2013 for the parents, finding that the cuts reduced per-pupil expenditures far below a level “suitable” to educate all children under Kansas’ standards.
The judges also found that the Legislature was not meeting even the basic funding amounts set in its own education cost studies. The judges called the school funding cut “destructive of our children’s future.”
To remedy the funding shortfall, the judges ordered that per-pupil expenditures be increased to $4,492 from $3,838, the level previously established as suitable.
Rather than comply, Governor Brownback appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court. A decision is expected this month.
A victory for the parents would be heartening, but if it comes, would Governor Brownback and legislative leaders uphold the right to education guaranteed to Kansas school children?
The signals thus far are not promising. If the Kansas Supreme Court orders restoration of the funding, legislators are threatening to amend the state’s Constitution by removing the requirement for “suitable” school funding and to strip Kansas courts of jurisdiction to hear school finance cases altogether. And if the amendment fails, they have vowed to defy any court order for increased funding or, at the very least, take the money from higher education....
As the Gannon trial judges noted, matters such as education are placed in constitutions because they are “intended for permanence” and “to protect them from the vagaries of politics.”..."