It is not too on the nose to state that the goal of many legislators in Kansas is to end public education. At the very least, to end the funding of public education by the State. Which is tantamount to the same thing.
Here is the plan, as best we can predict. First, Governor Brownback proposes to hold all school funding level, and to proceed with block grants while he and his allies figure out a new way to fund public education. "Level funding" would mean no increases for cost of living or inflation Second, a new funding formula, more palatable to Brownback's backers, is developed and implemented. This pushes the reset button on any lawsuits regarding funding, since opponents need to start again at zero to gather data on this new scheme. All of this takes five to seven years, by which time the Kansas Supreme Court has been re-made in Brownback's image by back-room appointments, either via constitutional amendment, or by new and arbitrary age-limits for serving justices.
Already this session we have seen numerous bills and proposals to cut K-12 public education funding—among them the Senate's proposed $40 million cut, and the Governor's 1.5% immediate cut—and a "block grant" bill that has just been introduced this week. As well, next week may see the debut of at least two bills to overhaul the appointments and tenure of the judiciary. This is not theory, but rather a plan being put in motion.
In all your conversations about education funding, to friends and neighbors, please keep this one salient point in mind:
This is a self-inflicted crisis.
Our state is strapped for cash, headed towards a billion dollar deficit, because Brownback and his campaign contributors insist on this fantasy that zero income tax will magically boost revenue. All the states around us are thriving in the nation's economic recovery. But not Kansas. The rising tide of national recovery is floating all boats, except those holed on purpose by their own captains. And here's the rub:
Cutting education is only going to make it worse.
Economic growth, a strong recovery, an attractive place to live and build a business, is all dependent on strong public schools. Employees do not want to live and work where their children cannot get a great education. Employers do not want to build their businesses where the workforce is uneducated and unskilled. Every avenue of education, from elementary to high school, community college to higher education, is in the crosshairs of Brownback and his allies in the Kansas Legislature.