Growing up in #HD5, there weren’t many days without Westerns playing in our living room. Many of them taught valuable lessons. We learned in The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: that “When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.”
In other words, when it’s time to act, act. It’s not the time for talking or grandstanding. We’re tired of folks trying to score political points instead of doing what’s best for Kansas.
In the polarizing world of Kansas’s education funding debate, the State of Kansas would do well to heed the sage words of Tuco. Unfortunately, the various factions have dug in their heels, and like Tuco’s adversary in The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, probably feel the other side has cost them “an arm” over the course of the last many years. Fortunately, we don’t have to decide who’s “right” today. We can have that conservation moving forward. But there IS a clear choice that we need to make NOW for the benefit of ALL Kansans.
We need to SHOOT, and #EndTheLitigation. It frees up our trial and appellate courts to concentrate on other important issues, which are already severely strained. It SAVES OUR taxpayer money instead of spending it on expensive attorneys. And it puts MORE money into our teachers’ pockets, which will ultimately enhance the profession, boost our local economies, AND improve our education #ForTheKids. By complying with the Kansas Supreme Court ruling now, here’s the GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY:
The Good: The Litigation is OVER. Taxpayer money is SAVED. And stable, certain funding is provided well into the next decade.
Look, I’m an attorney, so I like it when lawyers get paid, but NOT at the expense of taxpayers. We can’t change the past, but we CAN #EndTheLitigation. No more spending taxpayer dollars to pay attorneys to advise both chambers of the Legislature as to what might pass constitutional muster. No more schools spending taxpayer dollars to pay attorneys to litigate in court. Instead, the schools spend their money directly #ForTheKids. And we return the education funding debate to where it belongs: In the Legislature, put simply, whether you agree with the Supreme Court decision or not, complying with it is the only fiscally smart move. That’s right, our core Republican value of sound fiscal policy demands that we comply with the Court order and #EndTheLitigation.
Moreover, imagine planning your personal budget for the next year if your salary or hourly wages were in constant flux. We’ve burdened our school districts with those problems. How can we hire various personnel when our budget changes not only from year-to-year, but also during the middle of the year? By complying with the ruling, we provide stability for our educators and children. In working closely with each of our superintendents from Crest to Osawatomie, and from Central Heights to Anderson County to Wellsville, I’m very pleased to report that this approach gets 100% backing throughout #HD5 and beyond. As your Representative, WE will put this plan into action.
More Good: Arming our students with a 21st Century Education, while boosting teacher salaries and recruitment.
Check this out: “We want Kansas public schools to be the best in the nation, and our students, upon high school graduation, should be fully prepared without the need of costly remediation, to advance into their adult lives, be it at home, work, community college, technical school, or the university.” Any guesses on where that quote comes from? Head on over to the 2018 Platform of the Kansas Republican Party. If we want the best, we have to attract, educate, and retain the best teachers in America. Complying with the Supreme Court decision will help us do just that: Higher teacher salaries and continuing education.
Guess who else agrees: “The success of our children and our communities depends on quality schools with educators who have successfully completed teacher education programs . . . . A quality education depends on quality teachers.” Don’t look now, but these core values and more are found on the 2018 Platform of the Kansas Democratic Party. Dare we say there is bipartisan support for education?! Yikes!
The Bad: Schools already have too much funding, we have too many administrators, and our taxpayer dollars should be spent on other priorities!
Hey, I get it. We are a government of limited resources. If we’re spending (more!) money on education, then our hard-earned taxpayer dollars are not going to our roads, mental health, assistance for seniors or those in need, and the list goes on. I AGREE! This is a serious debate that needs to be had, that is, about how we allocate our precious resources. But we can’t ignore reality: Rightly or wrongly, the Supreme Court isn’t letting go of the current litigation unless and until WE fund what those seven Justices have determined to be a minimum educational threshold for every student in Kansas. I’m not asking you to agree with our learned Kansans on the State’s highest court. Rather, I’m asking that we #EndTheLitigation, then carry on the debate within the walls of the State Capitol instead of across the street in the Kansas Supreme Court.
The Ugly: Pass a Constitutional Amendment! Not so fast….
Reasonable minds can disagree about the need for a constitutional amendment. It’s a complex issue. Here in #HD5, we have students giving presentations in asbestos-filled auditoriums. Trash cans spread across our schools collecting water from leaky roofs. Kids taking math classes in outdated locker rooms. Yes, you read that right. Our facilities are old, falling apart, and the cost of maintaining them alone warrants a serious discussion about our future.
Worse, we have a handful of teachers who are NOT adequately preparing our students for the future. But we have such a severe shortage of qualified teachers and educators that our local leadership can’t find a suitable replacement willing to take the job and replace the subpar instructor. Again, we must find a better use of our taxpayer dollars. Obviously some of those asking for a constitutional amendment have ulterior motives (lower funding?!), but many valid reasons DO exist for rethinking how we fund Kansas education. The Legislature, and not the courts, IS best suited for that monumental task.
But here’s the kicker: Now is NOT the time for a constitutional amendment. Whether you agree with the Kansas Supreme Court or not, unless and until WE meet their mandate, we’re only wasting taxpayer money and creating more headaches and uncertainty for everyone. A constitutional amendment is NOT retroactive. In other words, we can’t legislate or pass a constitutional amendment to get ourselves out of the litigation. Think I’m wrong? Guess who gets to ultimately decide whether a constitutional amendment is retroactive. Yep, the Kansas Supreme Court. We’re kidding ourselves if we think anything short of complying with the Court’s order is going to work. Yes, let’s work towards better education funding rules and formulas. But let’s #EndTheLitigation right away and focus on mental health, roads, rural revitalization, and all the other pressing problems as well!
More Ugly: They’ll just keep asking for more money! But will that work….
Many have concerns that our schools will just keep asking for more money. But here’s the thing: The Kansas Supreme Court has already ruled that the current formula, which already uses inflation adjustments, meets constitutional compliance. The Court simply held that the inflation increases need to start right away, rather than five years down the road. All things considered, this is a relatively small change. Moreover, the Court’s opinion is binding precedent moving forward. So the claim that schools will have any success asking our courts for even more money is not a strong one. Especially if we #EndTheLitigation and return the debate to the Legislature and out of the courts.