Funding flunks

Anyone paying attention to our public schools was likely not surprised to hear last week that the Kansas Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Gannon v. State, holding that the Kansas K-12 public education financing system does not meet the adequacy requirements of the people’s constitution.

We agree with Rep. Jim Ward from the 86th District that the solution to the school finance issue lies in honoring three principles:

(1) Every child deserves an opportunity to pursue their God-given talents.

(2) Educating children isn’t “one size fits all.”

(2) Children must be funded based on their needs and some children cost more.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruling reaffirmed what many of us already knew: the block grant formula is constitutionally inadequate. This ruling is a victory for the school children of Kansas.

It would be surprising, though, if Gov. Sam Brown­back was truly surprised by the Court’s decision, and it’s frustrating that he did nothing to begin the process of developing a new and adequate finance formula before the Legislature convened in January. Now, the governor and the Legislature have until June 30 to enact a school funding formula that meets constitutional standards.

If we are disappointed about anything regarding the Court’s decision, it’s that it didn’t come two weeks to a month earlier—before the Senate voted not to override the governor’s veto that would have restored the LLC taxation cuts and provide at least partial funding for a constitutionally valid school funding plan.

Gov. Brownback is encouraging additional budget cuts on an already anemic state budget. Taking money from our public schools and diverting it through vouchers, tax credits and scholarship schemes to private schools is not a solution and serves only to weaken our public education system. —DR

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