Letters to the Editor

Real answers

January 31, 2011


To the editor:

Gov. Brownback wants Mike O’Neal to define “suitable education.” Brownback says “we have faced repeated legal action because no one knows what a suitable education actually means.” Brownback is willfully ignorant of the Kansas Constitution.

Kansas’ constitution does not require the state to provide “suitable public education” but rather “suitable finance” of public education. Article 6, Section 6, states “The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.”

The constitution defines the educational interests of the state in Article 6, Section 1: “The legislature shall provide for intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement by establishing and maintaining public schools.”

The state has already defined “intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement” and has commissioned and conducted multiple cost studies which define the necessary funding.

“Improvement” does not mean stagnation. Nor does it mean scaling back to 1999, or returning to rudimentary reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic; as Speaker O’Neal has implied. Improvement means improvement. The courts are clear on this.

If I thought it might help, I would send Brownback a dictionary and a copy of the Kansas Constitution. Sadly, that would only waste my time and money.

The truth is that Sam Brownback doesn’t like the real answers to these questions; because the real answers don’t fit his anti-public-school, anti-tax agenda. Brownback does not intend to uphold the Kansas Constitution.

By defining “suitable,” Brownback thinks he can exonerate his plan to gut public education and drive our children’s opportunities back to the late 20th century.


Ralph Reed 7 years, 4 months ago

A little bit heavy, but for the most part I agree. Rather than following the KS Constitution, BB wants a political hack to define something out of his pervue. O'Neal does not favor public schools and suitable financing, but rather vouchers. His goal is to gut the public school system in Kansas.

Brownstripe: It's a good idea to read the KS Constitution before you have a hack "decide" something the he's not qualified to do.

Bill Getz 7 years, 4 months ago

May be less evocative than "Brownshirt." which he used to be called by some of his opponents while in the Senate. Does anyone know the etymology of his name, though? Sounds Native American to me. BG

Ralph Reed 7 years, 4 months ago

Ah Tom, I'm not making light of the governor's name by calling him a nickname. Remember, a brownstripe is usually an indicator of a faux pas. I'm just using that term instead of "Faux Pas" alert.

Brownback = KS Governor (have to disinfect my keyboard now) brownstripe or Brownstripe = Faux Pas, sometimes major.

Now, wasn't that easy?

Enjoy Hawaii.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 4 months ago

And it follows if he does not intend to uphold the constitution he should be removed from office.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

You people do realize the Kansas Supreme Court will have a say in this, don't you? I really highly doubt the KSSC will uphold vouchers as "suitable financing" and if Brownback or O'Neal try to gut the funding, precedent has already been set by the state SC. They're only real hope is to put it to the voters and change the state constitution and I don't see that happening. This is all pretty much a publicity stunt; a way for them to point to their base and say, "Well, we tried."

gudpoynt 7 years, 4 months ago

Unfortunately, I think they've thought of that. Remember this (http://bit.ly/gShaUd)? Note the last one:

"Prohibit taxpayer funding of lobbyists and lawsuits against Kansas for additional state funding"

I imagine that this is an effort to prevent school districts from suing the legislature.

The S.C. can only uphold a ruling if they are allowed to hear the case.

What I'm unsure of, is to what degree public school districts used resources from their state-funded budgets to build their case before. Anybody have any info regarding this?

In the meantime, let's keep an eye out for proposed legislation geared toward this effort.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Not to me.

"Brownback is willfully ignorant of the Kansas constitution" is one main point.

"Brownback does not intend to support the Kansas constitution" is another one.

Much of the rest of the letter describes how the two above points are true.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

I see some very good substantive points in the letter, and none in your comments.

Labeling someone "extreme left-wing" without discussing the substance of their argument is not convincing to me.

gudpoynt 7 years, 4 months ago

Good point, and well said.

Tom, BAA, your thoughts? Refuting claims?

kugrad 7 years, 4 months ago

An excellent letter Mr. Reber. In fact, the state legislature has sponsored THREE separate studies of the cost of financing public education adequately. The 2nd two were attempts to repudiate the original study by coming up with a lower figure, but all three studies came up with very close to the same figure. Together, they provide hard data from both partisan and non-partisan study groups that all show the true cost of adequately educating our children is far below what we currently spend. Mr. Brownback and Mr. O'Neal (who, by the way is the biggest enemy of public education in Topeka and the absolute worst person to lead any study of education in Kansas), are seeking a way around fulfilling their constitutional duty to adequately fund schools. They seek to usurp the rights of local school boards - a stand that goes against their local-control rhetoric - by dictating what schools should provide. This gives them a back door way to legislate what children should learn, for one purpose only: To come up with a lower dollar figure for funding schools. This is NOT about providing a quality education to Kansas children; that idea will never enter into the discussions. It is about producing a lower dollar figure for the cost in order to find a way around the courts. Soon we will hear from Mr. O'Neal that the arts and music and probably some elementary science are "frills" that we "can't afford." Never mind the thousands of Kansans who are employed in the arts, including music, not to mention the millions, if not billions, of dollars scientific endeavors produce in Kansas. This is simply a legislative, political attack on public schools under the guise of a study.

rbwaa 7 years, 4 months ago

except, of course, your fallacious inference that $25 a month is adequate pay for teachers...but then we all know your comment was facetious...

paavopetie 7 years, 4 months ago

The main reason Brownback ran for governor is because he thinks it will improve his chances of becoming president. It is painfully clear he does not have the best interest of Kansas in mind. His entire agenda is based on what he thinks will win him the Republican nomination in two (or six) years.

Jimo 7 years, 4 months ago

If Brownback doesn't want to follow the constitution then he should work to amend its provisions away. As we all learned recently with the same-sex marriage amendments, a mere majority caught up with the winds of passion are all that's necessary to set constitutional law in Kansas. Is Gov. Brownback afraid that voters will "refudiate" him?

BruceWayne 7 years, 4 months ago

originally sent by email to LJW 3:20pm 1/28 after about 6 hours on the forum.

Dear Whitney,

the reason that i re-entered was to be able to FLAG inaccurate or defamatory posts. the first posts on this article you can see provided information.

the forum & the way that Jonathan and you moderate it - however does not make it possible to have a rational discussion.

i have decided to leave the forum.


i am signing out.


Carol Bowen 7 years, 4 months ago

In general, SB's approaches are simplistic, but I think USD 497 should worry about its priorities. I hear they just cut all languages except Spanish from the high school. We add sports and sports facilities and cut academics during a budget crunch. Maybe this budget squeeze will align the board's thinking.

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