No More Critical Race

The stage is set. The election on November 6th (or earlier, if you vote early!) will be one of the most consequential in Kansas' history. After eight years of fighting for education, health care, civil rights, and basic human dignity, we are on the cusp of an enormous opportunity to return Kansas to it's roots as a centrist, caring, thoughtful state where people look out for each other and care about their neighbors. We're talking, of course, about the race for Governor of Kansas.

The Congressional races are important, as a check to the ridiculous practices of the current Presidential Administration. The races for State Representative are critical to preserving a moderate majority in Topeka that can turn back the worst of the ultra-conservative policy fantasies. But the Governor's race could tip the balance.

One candidate, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, supports policies that would decimate much of what Kansans value. A strong system of public education. A welcoming culture for hard-working newcomers to the state. A community that helps each other, rather than one that leaves the neediest to fend for themselves.

But it boils down, quite simply, to this. Under the policies proposed by Mr. Kobach, our schools, your schools, will have less money.

His campaign has touted his drive for "75% of all funding should go to the classroom," but those who understand the complexities of funding public education note that Kobach's numbers include local funding in the total, and without that, 80% of funding already goes to classroom instruction. He's stated that he would assign letter grades to public schools, and students in failing schools would get vouchers for private school, while ignoring the realities: private schools are not required to provide all services for all students, they are not held to statewide academic standards, and they can pick and choose and dismiss at will. And in the end, he has pledged to amend the Kansas Constitution to remove the judicial review of school finance, effectively declaring that Kansas' requirement for a "suitable education" for all children is not important.

These policies, if enacted, will result in less money for your school, which means your school will endure cuts. Are there efficiencies to be found, some waste to cut instead of teachers, textbooks, or air conditioning? The most recent study, commissioned by the ultra-conservatives in the Statehouse, noted that Kansas schools are already a model of efficiency, the result of more than a decade of working under unconstitutionally low funding levels. So, no, there is no more fat to cut. There hasn't been for years.

The Governor's race in Kansas will decide the future of our children's success. Of your children and grandchildren. Of the children in your neighborhood, at your place of worship, at the park next door. Not just because of their education, but also their health care, their safety, their confidence, their dignity.

In 2014, the last time a Kansas Governor was elected, half of registered voters did not vote. That was 800,000 Kansans. That cannot be repeated. Talk to your friends and neighbors, your family and co-workers. Bring it up at your PTA. On the bus to work. At the watercooler. Make sure everyone you know plans to vote.

It starts here. With you. Do more than vote.

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