Archive for Saturday, June 4, 2016

Saturday Column: Standoff damaging to state’s schools and image

June 4, 2016


The current tragic, embarrassing and unnecessary stalemate in Topeka relative to what is judged to be sufficient and fair funding for the state’s K-12 public schools shows a lack of leadership, political courage and maturity and genuine concern for the best interests of Kansas and its residents.

The threat or possibility of public schools being forced to shut their doors because of the standoff in Topeka should trigger loud condemnation and forceful demands for immediate action.

Forget how the current situation damages the national image of Kansas. The important thing is to demand that Gov. Sam Brownback, state legislators and the Kansas Supreme Court get their heads together to hammer out a sound, workable plan.

Forget who will appear to be a winner or loser or who stands firm or caves in. This is not a game of “chicken” or a test of who blinks first.

Hopefully, all sides of the years-long debate have been guided by what they think is correct, fair and in the best interests of students. Unfortunately, there is every reason to believe it has become almost a game of raw, no-holds-barred political football.

Aside from the obvious stubbornness in Topeka by the governor, legislators and the Supreme Court, the public also is at fault for not demanding that funding issues be solved.

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and interim Kansas State President Richard Myers, as leaders of our state’s highest academic institutions, should show their concern through loud and public demands that the funding question be resolved immediately. Likewise, members of the Kansas Board of Regents, state teachers associations, parent-teacher groups and others who are looked upon as education leaders, should demand the funding puzzle be solved.

Not too many years ago, one of the outstanding nationally recognized positive features of Kansas was its public school system. It was one of the state’s major bragging points. The current situation is an embarrassment that provides material for jokes and ridicule from late-night television personalities, editorial writers and cartoonists.

Kansas currently faces severe fiscal challenges, as do many other states, but there must be, and certainly is, a way to provide proper funding for the state’s K-12 schools. Granted, the constitutional requirement that the state “make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state” is difficult to define, but the governor and state legislators must work out a plan that satisfies the court.

The deadline for coming up with a plan that answers the court’s demands is only a few weeks away. There is no justification for any delay in hammering out a fair, workable plan.

Forget the politics, forget how it might affect the upcoming legislative elections. Lawmakers and the governor might be surprised by the favorable public reaction if they were to demonstrate cooperation and place the state’s best interests ahead of their own personal convictions.

The state’s children and their education shouldn’t be placed in the center of an OK Corral shootout.


Louis Kannen 1 year, 11 months ago

My question has nothing to do with the above editorial opinion. My question DOES have EVERYTHING to do with today's KU/Jayhawk Towers/Tackett article. Specifically, will SOMEBODY please explain to me and the rest of a vast number of other readers why in the hell SOMEONE has decided to REFUSE any associated comments? Simple question, how about an answer...

Paul Beyer 1 year, 11 months ago

Because the paper expected to be overwhelmed with angry people posting non-relevant rants?

Paul Beyer 1 year, 11 months ago

Hell must be frozen over, Dolph actually used his Saturday rant to support schools and KU and other state universities.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 1 year, 11 months ago

I agree with Louis. Apparently at least two serious crimes have been committed, and all KU does is expel the student. They hire expensive attorneys to protect themselves, yet continue to advertise that their residence halls are safe. Obviously they are not safe, and they should take responsibility for the crimes committed in them. Were I the father of a young lady sexually assaulted in one of their "safe" residence halls, I would be doing exactly what the Tackett's are doing. This is shameful. Yes, the standoff is damaging to the state and it's schools. As a taxpayer, however, I am sick and tired of paying for waste in school district 343. I do not think school districts should be allowed to levy taxes. I am certain most other districts are the same. Educating children should be the primary focus. All of the sports, such as trips to play golf, etc. is a waste of taxpayer money. Children can play sports at their own expense. I did, we played baseball in a vacant lot, football in the yards up and down the street. Plus we had to get ourselves to school. I rode my bicycle, walked, and when the weather was bad Mom took us. It is easy to spot the waste. Look at the salaries of administrators, in addition to the above. I have not even touched the tip of the iceberg either.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 11 months ago

KU is using technicalities to avoid its responsibility or lack of in this case.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 11 months ago

If you don't continually reinvest, rebuild and strengthen it will atrophy, no matter what "it" is. Years ago, I was a sales rep covering Missouri and Kansas. The difference between the school buildings, the programs, the teachers and the administrators was stunning. Now? Not so much.

The problem is that the problems don't all surface immediately. It takes awhile for a car engine to fail because the owner doesn't maintain it correctly. But once it does, it's generally catastrophic, and expensive.

Tom Sigvaldson 1 year, 11 months ago

"Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and interim Kansas State President Richard Myers, as leaders of our state’s highest academic institutions, should show their concern through loud and public demands that the funding question be resolved immediately. Likewise, members of the Kansas Board of Regents, state teachers associations, parent-teacher groups and others who are looked upon as education leaders, should demand the funding puzzle be solved."

Really? How can you blame them when the legislature has demonstrated that they will react punitively against those who dare to criticize them. Did you forget that they tried to threaten the state court system with a complete loss of funding? The legislature CAN actually "punish" higher eduction with deeper, crippling cuts if they think they need to show them a lesson.

Mr. Simons, where has your show of "concern through loud and public demands" been up to now?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 11 months ago

All the legislature has to do to fix this problem is repeal the tax cuts and restore the former funding formula. It has now been exposed as to why they changed the funding formula:

"The Kansas State Department of Education has said returning to the old equalization formula and fully funding it would cost about $38 million more than what is currently in the budget."

So lets get this straight. If we were still using the old, more fair funding formula, they would have to raise funding for schools. So now, they are admitting that the new block grant formula was brought about to make it look like they were increasing funding, but in reality they were cutting funding.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 11 months ago

You are correct, Dorothy. But if we did this, the Koch Industries Regime would probably not be able to support the next election of fools for the Kansas Legislature, and we cannot have that. The "conservatives" have an iron clad hold on the government of Kansas and will not relent. We get the kind of government we deserve and what we have is the basis of the so called "conservative" government. Poor education is essential to this cause, educated voters do not vote for fools and jerks for elected office.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 11 months ago

"Aside from the obvious stubbornness in Topeka by the governor, legislators and the Supreme Court, the public also is at fault for not demanding that funding issues be solved."

This is not a standoff or a game of chicken. There was a law suit. The state supreme court made it's ruling. The court is done. The court does not and should not be a part of any negotiations. The responsibility for creating an adequate budget for schools clearly belongs to the legislature and the governor. When the governor and the legislature have the responsibility, they refuse it. Who is playing a game?

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

The United States of ALEC.

This film, featuring Bill Moyers, does a masterful job of explaining how the closed-door manipulations of the American Legislative Exchange Council and its corporate lobbyists affect public policy in every realm of our society — including education.

Our nation spends about $500 billion in local, state and federal funds on public schools from kindergarten through high school. Most Americans view this as a wise investment in our nation’s future. Throughout the 20th century the U.S. was the clear leader in public education. We created the most vibrant economy the world has ever known. The record speaks for itself — public education is a great investment.

But there are people who look at our investment in public education, and they see a treasure chest. Their first thought is, how can they tap into those funds for their own private gain? If just one percent of education spending were diverted to private profit, it would mean $5 billion a year in someone’s pockets. And that’s just counting K-12; higher education is already a huge for-profit sector.

A simple fact of business: You have to spend money to make money. And those who want to privatize education are willing to spend lots of money and effort to push their agenda. One of the main ways they are doing this is through ALEC.

ALEC has pushed education vouchers, which use public funds to pay for private schools, for years. They haven’t been deterred by the fact that voters have rejectedvouchers time and time again. In states where courts held that vouchers weren’t legal, they have looked for loopholes in the law.

Currently there are at least five different bills drafted by ALEC that use various approaches to divert public funds to private schools. They all have one thing in common: They undermine our capacity to create great public schools in every neighborhood, by diverting scarce resources that public schools desperately need.

Today, 17 states offer 33 programs that allow parents to use taxpayer money to send their children to private schools. This includes traditional vouchers as well as tax-credit scholarship programs that give individuals or corporations tax reductions if they donate to scholarship funds. My home state of Arizona adopted this tactic.

Vouchers are only one side of ALEC’s education agenda. If they can’t get public funds for private schools, they try to privatize the public schools.

Taxpayers should want more tax dollars spent on public education because it brings our tax dollars home that stay in our respective communities which are spent in many many many local economies.

Kelly O'Connor 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't think you have to go far to figure out the winners and loosers, as the LOOSERS are BrownKoch and his herd of sheep. Will someone please push the first one off the cliff so the rest will follow.....

John Sickels 1 year, 11 months ago

I see Trabert is putting down his marker: vouchers (which wouldn't do my special ed son a damn bit of good) and the Legislature trying to destroy the courts with this ridiculous "indemnify against contempt of court" proposal.

The legislature just can't pass a law saying "person X gets to ignore the court." It's a court order. Violating it is a criminal act. Planning to commit a crime is conspiracy. If the legislature and governor ignore a court order, they are criminal conspirators.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Court Has Other Option

It's time to bring legislators before the court and charge them with Contempt of Court !

Holding back on what should have been resolved more than two years ago is not fair to we taxpayers or the school districts. More stonewalling is immediately on the horizon.

The legislature has been negligent for about 6 years.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Never Vote Republican Again! Charge The GOP With Contempt of Court and Negligence.

A taxpayers response to the lack of school funding,a GOP threat to the Supreme Court and in general to the negligent behavior of the GOP Kansas Legislators.

Never vote republican ever again! They lie to the voters even after an election. They are probably law breakers NOT respectable representatives. Vote Them Out! Negligence is their rule of law!

The ALEC Agenda is the Kansas Legislators guide to DEFUND,DISABLE, DISMANTLE and DESTROY public education . Feel free to google Bill Moyer’s take on ALEC.

Their actions have tremendous negative impacts on every local economy make no mistake about it.

An excellent public school system is economic growth material!

Would you favor a sales tax increase to provide more money for Lawrence teacher salaries?

Teacher Salary Support

Of 5,198 voting 80% said yes. Remarkable ( of course we know this won't fly UNLESS the state legislature says yes).

Instead of building a new police building I say city government help out the school district.

Paul R Getto 1 year, 11 months ago

Dear Editor: you asked for smaller government twice. Get used to it. Things will get much worse.

William Cummings 1 year, 11 months ago

"Legislators should not let the courts close schools."

It is the actions of the Legislature and the Governor, not the court, that threatens Kansas schools. It is the legislature and the Governor that have followed recommendations of big money lobbyists in creating an unconstitutionally inequitable distribution of school resources. The court has simply recognized the inequity, and for the moment, that there is no legal means for the state to transfer funds to the school districts. The court has other means to resolve this issue, but for present, has chosen to give the Legislature yet another opportunity to fulfill its constitutional obligation .

In response, the big money lobbyists stick with the same tired arguments and "solutions." School vouchers [creates a yet more inequitable distribution of resources while undermining public education]; indemnification of public officials who defy the courts [read that: taxpayers to bear the burden of illegal behavior so long as such behavior supports big money ideology]; and pretend that they are acting in good faith if they once more stir the pot with no meaningful change from their status quo.

Readers, be very careful when examining the pleas of big money lobbyists. They do not represent the best interests of our children.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Taxpayers need to scream out " We taxpayers want to bite the bullet and you legislators need to get back to real life and fund our public school system.

The court needs to haul legislators, the governor and his admin into court, charge them accordingly and make them post bail out of their own bank accounts,

All of this nonsense of bankrupting Kansas,privatization of public schools,cutting off medicaid, attacking others in society,attacking women and turning away federal tax dollars does not have the approval of the voting taxpayers. Had these conservatives revealed their intentions during campaigns they would not get elected.

How do these conservatives lie so well?

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