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KS Needs More $$$ for Schools

December 31, 2014

In earlier posts I wrote about KS failure to provide enough funding to ensure equitable opportunities for students raised in poverty… and as hoped (by those who favor funding reform as opposed to privatization) the a State court panel yesterday determined that the legislature was not providing sufficient funding to make it possible for the equalization funding formula to achieve its results.

As is often the case in these suits, however, it will be some time before the districts serving children raised in poverty see a dime of the funds they need. Why? “…because the state is expected to appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court.” In the kinds of excruciating procedures that often surround these cases, this will be the second time the Kansas Supreme Court heard this case after the second time around for the three-judge Shawnee State Court panel. Wha-a-a-?:

This same three-judge panel ruled last year that lawmakers needed to inject an additional $440 million of annual school funding to meet the constitutionally acceptable base state aid. But the state’s Supreme Court sent the issue back to the district court, saying that it needed to reconsider whether total funding was adequate using a different legal standard.

But even if the court rules in favor of the three-judge panel, Governor Brownback has a workaround: he intends to introduce legislation to change to the funding formula. This runaround isn’t fooling the districts who brought the suit:

“The formula’s fine,” said John S. Robb, one of the lawyers representing the school districts and individuals suing the state in the lawsuit, Gannon v. Kansas. “But you got to fund it. You got to fund whatever you do. They did not find the formula was wrong. So Brownback’s trying to fix something that’s not broken.”

But as it is currently constituted, KS’s legislature will never fund public education to the levels required to provide equity… a fact that should infuriate voters in the districts being shortchanged especially given the deep tax cuts the state is providing to corporations on the theory that these cost will stimulate the expansion of jobs which, in turn, will provide more revenues into the state coffers. But here’s the reality: the trickle down theory works even worse at the state level than at the federal level… and an entire generation of students raised in poverty in KS, NJ, and WI will suffer as a result of the leadership’s refusal to implement the decisions made by their state judiciaries.

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