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Kansas School Funding Woes: A Canary in a Coal Mine or a Wake Up Call?

June 1, 2016

The NYTimes today features an article by Julie Bosman on the school funding crises in Kansas, a crisis I’ve blogged about frequently over the past few months. It is unfortunate for parents and school children that voters paid no attention to the finances in that state when they re-elected Governor Sam Brownback and, even worse, re-elected the legislators who are doing his bidding. But it is heartening to read that many parents and school board members who reflexively support Republicans are beginning to see that their slash and burn agenda based on the widely discredited trickle down theory is not working for their children. Governor Brownback and his like-minded colleagues in Wisconsin and Ohio were able to slash funding for public schools during their initial terms in office without doing obvious harm to public schools. Prudent suburban boards had rainy day funds to take care of State shortfalls and affluent districts used local property taxes to sustain their schools. Urban districts just made ever deeper cuts to their schools and offered charter schools to parents who wanted something better than the austere environment offered in public schools.

But here’s the real question: will voters in other states learn from the experience of Kansas, Ohio and Wisconsin… or will public schools across the country suffer eight years of budget cuts? Here’s hoping enough voters pay attention to what’s happened in other states and avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly.

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