This time, the wealthy attorney, who has lined his pockets by taking bread out of the mouths of school children, said schools need gobs of additional funding to continue in their quests to dumb down future generations.
I'm sorry. These words are harsh, but I'm at my wits' end on this one. The Kansas Supreme Court heard a case based on a word that isn't actually IN Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution. Yesterday, attorneys for the state of Kansas (taxpayers) and the country club guy hoping to secure a second yacht off the backs of taxpayers were debating over whether school funding is "adequate," having settled on whether it was "equitable." (By "settled", I mean legislators, with the help of the Governor, capitulated to the special interests of the teachers' unions last summer.)
"Equitable" and "adequate" are super nice words, but they aren't ACTUALLY part of the Kansas Constitution. These are words crafted by the Kansas Supreme Court and used to ensure that as long as a conservative holds the highest office in Kansas, there will never be enough money for Kansas schools.
The arguments on all sides of this issue are insane, especially since we all know what's about to occur: The Kansas Supreme Court is going to scribble an opinion saying public school funding is unconstitutional. This is a naked emperor, because the members of the Court selected by secret committee of lawyers just basically make up what is and isn't constitutional, using the opinion they wrote last week as legal precedent. (See the words "adequate" and "equitable.")
The wealthy attorney for the
The state attorney basically argued that the state should be able to direct the money it currently gives schools to assist the students who are struggling. Um. We have to have the state Supreme Court offer its approval for the directing of state taxpayer resources? Guys, there's something wrong with this picture. Why do we even bother electing a legislature? Shouldn't we just hand over those keys to the state Supreme Court, since that's how we've been doing this since about 2005? (And probably earlier than that. 1992? It's hard to keep track of all the school funding lawsuits. Amazingly, the common theme in all the lawsuits is more money, more money, more money.)
Mark Tallman, lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards, told media he thinks school boards understand the need to direct resources. And yet, his organization rejects the block grants, which essentially gave local school boards full control of how they spend the money given to them from the state. KASB loved the old formula that "weighted" students based on a number of factors. So a student who spoke a language other than English as a first language counted as more than 1 student. A student on the school lunch program counted as more than 1 student. A student who had an IEP counted as more than 1 student. Schools received funding based on the student population of weighted students. A school may have 1,000 students, but after weighting, that same school received base state aid per pupil of 3,400 students.
This was always a horrible plan. I don't see how counting every student differently is "fair" or "equitable". Remember when the U.S. counted black Americans as 3/5ths of a person? Kansas' school funding formula essentially counted some students as more equal than others. As a former student who probably only counted as 1 instead of 1.5 or whatever, I'm a little offended.
I'm also offended by the criteria used to determine which students are more equal than others. Students on free and reduced lunches received extra weighting. Students on an IEP received extra weighting. This funding mechanism created an incentive to get parents and children to sign up for free and reduced lunches. It created an incentive to put more students on IEPs, or labeling these children as special needs. This includes "gifted" students as well.
If we're going to "weight" students so we can direct resources appropriately, we should weight them in a way that provides incentives to improve. Give schools bonus money when they improve instead of giving them more cash when they fail. (I realize that's not perfect. However, incentivizing failure really hasn't been working all that well.)
There is no formula that will make the teachers' unions happy. They want as much money as possible with as little input from "non-educators" (parents and taxpayers) as possible. There is no solution that will appease them. How do I know this? The Kansas Association of School Boards is demanding $1 billion more in school funding next year, as if we can just pop out back of the Capitol and pick some cash off of the Kansas Money Tree. That's not how it works.
Teachers unions don't just want to indoctrinate your children--they want parents to be so broke from tax burden that they HAVE to rely on the school to feed and care for their children via social programs.
The tragedy of all this is that we can't have an honest conversation about any of it, because we have a partisan state Supreme Court acting as the tax collector to pad the pockets of wealthy attorneys and school administrators.