Republicans in the Kansas Legislature are obviously not serious at all about conservative principles and ideals. I am so incredibly frustrated by what’s been transpiring in Topeka. I have half a mind to drive up there and start slapping people. (But like an actual good conservative, I value the rule of law and freedom, meaning I don’t want to go to jail for violating some outdated law that makes it illegal to slap people with whom Gidget disagrees –I think there’s a strong case for legalizing Gidget slaps, but I digress.)
|Legalize Gidget Slapping People Today!|
In theory, Republicans support eliminating unnecessary spending and cutting the budget. The key words in that sentence are “in theory.” In reality, Kansas has a lot of sacred cows, and perhaps none is more sacred than propping up bloated public school administrations.
Supposedly conservative legislators, specifically in the supposedly more conservative Kansas Senate, helped stick a fork in a bill that would have consolidated Kansas schools. I get it. Truly, I do that consolidating schools is gut-wrenching, unpopular work. But it is sooo necessary, and I am not just saying that because I hail from the populated Johnson County. I am saying that because math. Even public school students should be able to do the math required to draw the conclusion that taxpayers are spending buckets and buckets of hard-to-come-by cash on school administrators. It’s ridiculous. It’s out of control. Kansas spends more than 50 percent of its budget on schools, the feds kick in additional money, and it’s not improving our schools. Most of the money isn’t going to classrooms. Instead, it’s lining the pockets of administrators.
There are 286 school districts in Kansas—each with its own set of expensive superintendents and administrative staff. John Bradford’s completely reasonable bill would have created countywide school districts in several of Kansas’ less populous counties. For example, Harvey County’s four small districts would likely merge with Newton schools for a district of about 6,000 students. This bill did not suggest closing any school buildings. Merging districts may also provide the students of smaller districts access to things they currently do not have. For example, a larger district comprised of smaller ones IN THE SAME COUNTY could hire one Spanish teacher who travels between the schools to teach Spanish (or insert other specialized training). The teacher travels, not the students.
The last time the Kansas Legislature imposed school consolidation, 1965, they created the Olathe School District from five school districts. That year, the newly-minted Olathe School District No. 233 had an enrollment of 3,687 students. Today, there are 29,567 students. What I’m saying is, everyone continued to receive an education. Smaller schools continued to exist within the behemoth Olathe School District. Savings were realized then and would be again.
But rural Kansans sobbed big, fat baby tears and supposedly conservative legislators surrendered like the French army in the face of mild German aggression. It’s embarrassing. Before the bill even had a hearing, Sen. Jake LaTurner, Pittsburg, and Sen. Garrett Love, Montezuma, took to their Facebook pages lamenting the bill. These are Republicans who both say their key concerns in Kansas are out-of-control spending and a high tax burden. That’s what’s passing for conservative in the Statehouse this session – saying you support less spending and lower taxes—while going out of your way to make sure that doesn’t happen.
|Republicans surrendering like the French Army in the face of mild German aggression.|
Supposed conservatives also threw tiny temper tantrums at the mere suggestion that quite possibly, just maybe, we should quit incentivizing additional funding for the gifted program. I have a lot of problems with the way children are labeled repeatedly in public schools, especially when there is financial incentive to label children. Newsflash: There’s a YUUUGE financial incentive to label kids “special.”
I don’t like a one-size-fits-all approach to education, but I think I like even less bureaucrats labeling children. I have a real, real moral problem with it. Expectations matter, and if one kid gets a better education because he or she is “gifted,” if I am paying for all of it whether I want to or not, my unlabeled kid should have access to it too. This isn’t purely a fiscal issue, although the incentive for labeling school children rankles. It’s a moral issue, too. If we’re going to have one-size-fits-all education, count me among the all or nothing crowd.
Education is always a giant fly in the political Kansas ointment. So I generally anticipate conservative legislators going off the rails a bit where education is concerned. As a general rule, they have the backbones of jellyfish. Unfortunately, in matters outside of education, this year legislators are going full-on Bernie. (OK. That’s not exactly fair, but they’re making large strides in Bernie’s direction in a lot of areas.
I give you the soon-to-be law sun tanning bill. Tanning beds, you see, are BAD FOR YOU. So we desperately need big, bad government to step in and save people from themselves through regulation of private business. I know, you thought Republicans were opposed to over regulation, but nope. You’re wrong in that assumption. They’re opposed to it right up until someone cries in a committee hearing.
Skin cancer survivors, and former teen sun bed users, gave emotional testimony. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used a tanning bed so the big tanning controversy means absolutely nothing to me personally. That said, we should either make tanning in a sunbed illegal OR require parental consent for minors to tan. The current bill, which is likely to pass, would make it illegal for people under the age of 18 to use tanning beds. If tanning is legal, parents should make the decision – not 165 people in Topeka. That’s the conservative position, which, it appears almost no one save for Brett Hildebrand is taking.
Finally and most disturbingly and importantly, a bunch of supposed Republicans jumped ship to oppose a change to the way Kansas Supreme Court justices are appointed. The proposed constitutional amendment needed a two-thirds majority. It failed in the House, 69 people voted appropriately. I take serious umbrage with the idea that the current “merit selection” committee is nonpartisan. That sentiment deserves its own laugh track. The legislation, which would have gone before voters, would have given Kansas a federal model appointment system in which the Governor offered a nomination to the Senate for approval. Apparently the way the U.S. has been appointing federal judges is backwards and ridiculous and stupid. Kansas allows a batch of attorneys to make appointments to the bench. I don’t even… Please people, there’s a reason there’s an entire genre of jokes dedicated to ways to drown, maim and otherwise injure attorneys. Shockingly, a bunch of lawyers who get the high privilege of nominating people to the bench think it’s a great idea for them to retain all of the power. What I don’t understand is why so many Republicans went along.
|Why do we bother?|
At this point, I can’t figure out why we even bother electing Republicans or conservatives at any level of government. Someone please explain the point, because I am losing it.