Education Standoff in the Kansas House

Last week, when some of the largest school districts in Kansas were having Spring break, and parents and education advocates were enjoying time with family or away, the Leadership of the Kansas House of Representatives sought to push through their bill to "fix" public education. On the same day that the Kansas Senate voted to pass SB 142, which would add the funding sought by the Governor, the House held a hurriedly-organized hearing on HB 2395, an omnibus education policy bill that changes policy and funding levels passed last year and already ruled Constitutional by the Kansas Supreme Court. In short, they threw a spanner into the works.

Despite the short notice, education advocates managed to scramble and present testimony opposing the bill, including KASB, KNEA, Equality KS, and the United School Administrators. Today, MainStream will have a chance to testify in opposition, too. Also today, neutral testimony and any proponents of the bill.

You can read the testimony of other opponents above, and ours here, and you can listen to the hearings from Thursday here, and tune in today at 3:30 to hear more, including ours.

But let us give you a taste of what is in this bill.

Vouchers. Anti-bullying measures that don't prevent bullying. Transportation measures to help kids in dangerous neighborhoods, but without money to pay for it, so only if the district has money. Rules for construction that take decisions away from local districts. Rules for curriculum that take Constitutional duties away from the State Board of Education. New weightings for calculating funding that may violate equity standards set by the Courts. Eliminating funding plans for future years, throwing districts back into uncertainty. Eliminating price-indexed increases in funding. Mandating additional reporting from districts (requiring more money for administrative tasks, which flies in the face of their arguments to put more money into instruction). And more.

It is a bill full of ultra-conservative plans and platitudes, tied to less funding and destined to be rejected by the Kansas Supreme Court, once again continuing the cycle of litigation.

Kansans want this settled. The Court has ruled that policy passed last year is Constitutional, and all they need is a guarantee that funding will account for inflation. That is what the Legislature should be doing now, not presenting this wishlist of previously rejected and uncertain measures to gum up the process.

You can let the Leadership of the committee know you want HB 2395 set aside by sending a quick email.

Click here to send your email now!

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