This evening, Governor Brownback delivered his final State of the State address. A transcript of the speech is available here.
The Governor put forth a proposal to comply with the Supreme Court in Gannon V. The Governor has proposed $600M over 5 years without a tax increase.
While we appreciate that the Governor recognizes that schools have been drastically underfunded, it will take a bit more than $120M per year to restore adequacy and bring 125,000 underperforming students up to the state’s new standards.
|YEAR||INFLATION||Funding per Governor’s Plan||Needed to achieve KS BOE $600M plan|
The justices were quite clear in their ruling that Kansas must meet the needs of ALL students. Schools simply can’t reach the 25% of underperforming students (a number that is much higher in high poverty districts) at $120M per year over a five year period.
The Governor also proposed a constitutional amendment to “end litigation.” What that constitutional amendment will look like is still unknown. However, Kansans understood the value of public education and included it in our constitution in order to protect ALL Kansas students. Who does Article 6 of the constitution protect? It safeguards that low enrollment schools are guaranteed equal educational opportunity. It ensures that less wealthy urban kids are guaranteed that wealthy school districts do not gain an advantage. Property taxpayers are guaranteed that they will not pay more simply because of the wealth of the district where their property is located. Western Kansans are guaranteed that their schools can continue to exist and not be reliant upon the whim of more populous area legislators. All kids are guaranteed equal access to an adequate education regardless of their zip code.
We should not throw away our student’s constitutional rights to the whims of political maneuvering.
A number of public education advocacy organizations are opposed to a constitutional amendment. You can view their opinions here.