Your Turn: Brownback responds to NY Times

Editor’s note: The following letter by Gov. Sam Brownback was written to the New York Times in response to its Oct. 13 editorial.

October 30, 2013


Editor’s note: The following letter by Gov. Sam Brownback was written to the New York Times in response to its Oct. 13 editorial.

While the citizens of Kansas do appreciate your interest in the quality of education received by our children, it appears you may be unaware of a few simple facts. Therefore, I would respectfully request that you reconsider the conclusions drawn in your recent editorial entitled “Shortchanging Kansas Schoolchildren” in light of the following:

First and foremost, Kansas has great schools. Kansas children outperform the state of New York in several measures of academic achievement. Our elementary school children consistently score higher on reading and math assessments and a much higher percentage of our high school students graduate career or college ready. In fact, the Kansas Legislature passed landmark legislation for secondary students that is now used as a national model for Career and Technical Education in the United States.

Secondly, the citizens of Kansas are investing in our public schools. Since I was elected, state spending on K-12 education has increased by more than $200 million, and teacher salaries have increased. At the same time we reduced the tax burden on our small businesses and every taxpaying citizen of Kansas. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to increase spending on education and cut taxes at the same time. We have done it three years in a row by focusing our resources on the core functions of state government, which includes education.

Third, the lawsuit referenced in your editorial was filed in response to education spending levels under Governors Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson. The decline in per-pupil spending you cite was the result of federal stimulus funds that expired in Fiscal Year 2011. The Legislature had not provided any tax relief to Kansas citizens at that time. In fact, Gov. Parkinson had to raise taxes just to provide the level of funding described as inadequate in the lawsuit.

Your editorial seeks to provide direction to the Kansas Supreme Court on the pending school finance lawsuit. In doing so, you seem to believe that the court’s ruling should reflect the values and priorities of the New York Times Editorial Board. I believe the court’s ruling should reflect the values and priorities of Kansans.

In Kansas, we value great teachers and great schools. We prioritize the spending of taxpayer dollars on core functions of government. We value the wisdom of the Kansas Constitution, which clearly articulates the legislature’s sole authority to appropriate public monies. We prioritize policies that create private sector jobs and grow our economy. We value a judiciary of Kansans for Kansans. And most of all, we love our kids, our state, and our country.

— Gov. Sam Brownback


Kevin Groenhagen 2 years ago

The U.S. spends much more per student than the rest of the world. In fact, we spend twice as much per student as Japan, http://rossieronline.usc.edu/u-s-education-versus-the-world-infographic/

When promoting the train wreck known as Obamacare, Obama the Unready and the Democrats cited statistics that showed we spend twice as much per capita on health care as other developed countries. They said the health-care system had to be reformed to lower the costs.

Notice that the Democrats never say we need to reform the education system to lower the costs. Instead, they demand that we spend even more, even though spending more in the past did not result in improved performance.

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

You managed to get two whole sentences out this time before jumping the shark.

There are huge differences in the way these systems operate, or should operate, same as with the military, and social security, etc., etc.

The answer to fixing all of them isn't the same answer. Right now we're talking about education - we're also talking about the State level, not the Federal. If you had referenced Brownback the Uneducated and referenced how little he is spending on education in an effort to turn an average-to-just-above-average system into one of the worst, you would have made an actual point.

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

Actually, my argument was you strayed off topic, then two separate explanations on how you did that and failed to address the article in your post. You just failed at reading comprehension.

To respond to your comment here (while you've yet to supply any evidence for your initial claim and merely try to continue down the same path) it's easiest to simply say you are once again failing to provide anything factual. To say that students from the 80's, 70's and 60's could out perform the students of today is simply untrue.

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

The link you provided referenced US vs the world (which if you'll see above is the one comment you made which was accurate and no one has challenged). It's your inability to focus and stay on topic while continuing to bring in incorrect information and high levels of dishonesty that we were all having a problem with.

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

Ah, I suppose this is another reason you get attention from me, your constant need to project your own misgivings onto anyone who has a conversation with you on here. Someone points out something that you're not doing and you immediately accuse that person and everyone else of the exact same thing.

You endlessly insult others, but become offended when people point out that's what you're doing. You provide false information, but become dismissive when anyone points out that this is what you have done because they don't provide far more documentation than you ever will.

We could pull thread after thread of this happening (as you mentioned, I've pointed it out repeatedly) but you would continue to ignore this fact.

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

The link you just posted addresses a different argument than your original statement. Now you've shifted from our student's performance to where our student's rank compared to others - these are two drastically different things and when taken with context (or by apologists as you as) have vastly different meanings than your first ill-intentioned post.

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

Finally in response to your last post, you post often, and you post misinformation most of the time. As someone who merely is pointing out when someone is being dishonest you get commented on a lot more than others. I have commented on many posts, hardly just yours. I have no issue with you other than your consistent will to remain ignorant and post falsehoods to push your opinion without learning when provided new information.

The finding me on Facebook and insulting me there was just an added push to keep an eye out for you. :)

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

That he is, if he's the individually who was constantly being disappeared off the site then I remember a few of his names. His interpretation of events is often quite funny (even if he is not), it is frustrating to see how many people continuously point this out to him and he continues to ignore it. It makes me wonder if he has all of this time to spend on here because he cannot work due to a mental disability or disorder and this is his only form of social interaction.

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

Oh look - irony!

You certainly should be reminded of the rules of the forum board, as you enjoy violating them, then complaining when others respond in kind.

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

The cost of living has multiplied several times over since then. You don't know if the students then are outperforming students of today.

Today we have brilliant students as we did decades ago.

Today we have students who are satisfied with C level performance as we did decades ago.

Today we have students who simply do not want to learn anything coming from school as we did decades ago.

What we have had interfering with education is no child left behind, a group of right wingers to want to take over our public education system using the term privatize. Then BIG government believing they know more about public education spending than do those in the thick of it everyday. Politicians are listening to the people who fund their campaigns thus leaving them as among the most uninformed in the nation.

No Child Left Behind was a grand display of ignorance by the legislators who approved such nonsense.

Why would taxpayers want their public education dollars spent on CEO salaries,golden parachutes and corrupt special interest funding of political campaigns?

The right wingers wanting to assume ownership of our public education system are dictating to their right wing soldiers to keep cutting budgets until the system appears to be failing as a result of the public education system. Which could NOT be further from the truth. It would obviously be a result of a corruption team of politicians and public education privateers aka profiteers.

Why would taxpayers want their public education dollars spent on CEO salaries,golden parachutes and corrupt special interest funding of political campaigns?

Greg Cooper 2 years ago

First, Kevin, Obamacare is not the subject. It's law. Get over it.

Second, and more appropriate, would you cite for us the educational quality of the nations you say spend less on education than the US? The total dollars spent is a simple measure of quantity. The measure of quality is the important thing, in my opinion. Cite the educational per-pupil expenditures of other nations as opposed to the educational quality, testable and quantifiable, and not opinionated.

Your argument might well be pertinent if you can draw that link. Othewise, it's just blather spread by one who can not stand the current national leader. You're better than that, I think.

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

Actually your comment was primarily a shot at the President, you also spent more time complaining about Democrats while trying to use a bad argument to tie it into education (which was the shortest portion of your comment), while managing to ignore the point of the article as a whole.

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

I have yet to make that claim, why in the world would I defend it?

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

Also, I'm correct yet again. If you read your original post your rant trying to bring the ACA in is the longest piece, followed by your anger at the democrats. Two sentences at the beginning are all you use to address the topic.

Greg Cooper 2 years ago

When promoting the train wreck known as Obamacare, Obama the Unready and the Democrats cited statistics that showed we spend twice as much per capita on health care as other developed countries. They said the health-care system had to be reformed to lower the costs.

Does that sound like you're talking about education spending?

Your disingenuousness follows you wherever you write, Kevin, and it gets a little tiring when you, as your vaunted Republican party, throw out talking points and call them facts.

Greg Cooper 2 years ago

And I did read your "source" and considered the credentials of such. You might try that sometime.

Seth Peterson 2 years ago

He said something about you being disingenuous often, as you often need to be reminded.

Julius Nolan 2 years ago

Though Brownback was responding to NYT about the critical education column. Read both the column and Brownback's response. I found no mention of the ACA.

Julius Nolan 2 years ago

Well, maybe in 2015 he will be unemployed, at least in public sector.

Michael Shaw 2 years ago

See the Peterson blog. The Brownback letter was deemed unpublishable by the New York Times because of issues concerning the facts. Peterson explains.

Michael Shaw 2 years ago

Correction: the blog is by Peter Hancock.

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

The public education system works. It the right wing government philosophy that is failing.

Perhaps the New York Times did not publish the Sam ALEC Brownback letter due to some untruths scattered throughout the ALEC opinion so I speculate. I did read the New York Times comments. The Kansas GOP legislature mismanagement of the public education dollars have been making national news off and on even before Sam Brownback dropped by.

Where is the New York Times comments in the Journal World? Did I overlook?

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Are our students truly inferior to those in Japan,South Korea,and Europe? No way that is nothing but political rhetoric from those who want to over throw USA K-12 systems in the name of profit,CEO salaries,golden parachutes and special interest campaign contributions. Turning our K-12 system over to private industry is reckless thinking.

Briefly let's talk failures = No Child Left Behind as an overall tool for improving public education.

It's actually a local school system. USD 497 has an extraordinary reputation.

All schools in the nation are not failing as the misinformation machine implies.... not by a long shot. Think about how many "important people" have a public school education in their portfolio.

Really what does Sam Brownback know about our public education system? Gov Sam Brownback wants to kill it by way of his defunding mechanism. Turning our K-12 system over to private industry aka "privatization" is simply funneling tax dollars into corporate bank accounts. This is the ALEC/Sam Brownback agenda.

If people want private schools they are not hard to find. Private schools do not necessarily provide a better education. Private schools can pick and choose aka deny entry to any student they so desire.

If private schools were forced to accept all students no matter what... you know apples to apples the private school statistics would certainly be altered a great deal.

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

What about ALEC School Privatize Profiteers ? That's what this matter is all about. The New York Times is likely aware. In Kansas Brownback slams the public education system. To the New York Times Sam Brownback was praising the public school system. I'm willing to surmise that the New York Times is aware of the Brownback connection to the ALEC privatization of public schools concept.

Why would taxpayers want their public education dollars spent on CEO salaries,golden parachutes and corrupt special interest funding of political campaigns? This is about the privatize profiteers.

Has anyone questioned where in the world did No Child Left Behind come from? Or where did the USD 497 Virtual School Program Originate?

ALEC's education bills encompass more than 20 years of effort to privatize public education through an ever-expanding network of school voucher systems, which divert taxpayer dollars away from public schools to private schools, or the creation of new private charter schools with public funds, and even with private online schools (who needs actual teachers when you can have a virtual one?).

The bills also allow schools to loosen standards for teachers and administrators, exclude students with physical disabilities and special educational needs, escape the requirements of collective bargaining agreements and experiment with other pet causes like merit pay, single-sex education, school uniforms, and political and religious indoctrination of students.

States where students score well on tests but where ALEC's legislative agenda around school choice, charters, merit pay, de-unionization and alternative certification have not yet taken hold get low grades. States where elected officials are gung-ho for ALEC's agenda but the students are not faring so well are still graded generously.

Ranking Policy, Not Performance While ALEC's report card and its many appendices weigh in at hefty 130+ pages, it is markedly slight on evidence that school choice, charters, or firing more teachers improve student performance. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/02/02-9

Steve King 2 years ago

You'd have to be kidding yourself not to see what's been going on nationally with the (R) Govs and ALEC.

Glad to see people are starting to realize it.

If I was Brownback I'd start packing boxes now so I wasn't in a rush to do so later.

Steve King 2 years ago

Brownback. The fouth most vulnerable gov in 2014:


He will be sent packing in 2014. He's stepped on too many toes and has been too high handed. Perhaps if he hadn't have gone so far so soon people wouldn't have noticed.

In a quick survey, the sacrificial lamb already has Brownback behind running in the red:


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