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


Steve King 5 months, 1 week 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:


Steve King 5 months, 2 weeks 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.


Paul R Getto 5 months, 2 weeks ago

This debate is not new. In the name of Libertarianism the Kochs and others fund those who will carry their water.


Richard Heckler 5 months, 2 weeks 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.


Richard Heckler 5 months, 2 weeks 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?


Michael Shaw 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Correction: the blog is by Peter Hancock.


Michael Shaw 5 months, 2 weeks ago

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


Autie Anderson 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I am afraid at this point Mr. Brownback would privatize the entire function of all state government if he could. He would let it out to the highest bidder as long as those bidders were in cohoots with his funders. More profit for AFP supporters, forget about good public policy. Did you see that a coalition of counties is suing the state now because they got cheated out of promised oil and gas severance tax money? Brownies way. Schools are short changed as evidenced by all of the districts being forced to raise local property tax support just to get by with the basics. Same game plan for Medicaid and social programs. Regulate and over burden providers with nonsense paperwork and allow for profits to deny services. People will die but Brownie will save a few bucks while lining the pockets of the privateers with enhanced profits. Must be good work if you can get it.


Julius Nolan 5 months, 2 weeks 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.


Lane Signal 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Wow. It's not that complicated. It's pretty simple. Brownie and his cronies cut taxes to the bone saying that in the long run this would help Kansans and there would not be a revenue short fall. Then he claimed the state could no longer afford to fund schools at the same level. Now he says, "Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to increase spending on education and cut taxes at the same time". As the radical right works hard to take away teachers rights to union representation, change rules to allow for "charter" schools to avoid the costs of meeting federal guidelines and cut more and more funding from our schools, Brownie will claim that he is doing his best to ensure every child is getting the best education possible. What Brownie will not tell you is that education funding (and all other state funding) is going to be squeezed as hard as possible to wring out as much money as possible to give to the wealthy and big industry.


Terry Lee 5 months, 2 weeks ago

This letter was written by a person clearly looking to make another failed presidential run in the future. Who gives 2 sheets what the NY Times says unless your eyes and brain (or lack thereof) are focused, not on present state issues like a Governor should be, but on a national seat in the future. Fix the mess you've made here Brownie and stop worrying about what the rest of the world thinks of your poor governing!!!


Greg Cooper 5 months, 2 weeks 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.


Kevin Groenhagen 5 months, 2 weeks 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,

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.


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