Saturday, May 28, 2016

Kansas House Republicans Respond to Supreme Court Ruling over Education Funding

The Kansas Supreme Court made a ruling this week which basically is telling the Kansas House what it should do and how to write legislation they approve of. Problem is, though, the court is not supposed to be legislating. Below is the email sent to Kansas Republicans by the Kansas House Republicans:

  • Recently the Wichita School Board has made a very public spectacle about issuing cuts within the district and doing so in the most painful way possible. It also so happens they're one of four districts currently suing the state using taxpayer dollars. It's one of the oldest tricks in the book, ginning up a media circus to accompany a court case.

    The media has allowed district officials to give tearful on-camera interviews blaming Republicans for being mean, while refusing to follow up with thoughtful questions about other options the district could pursue to balance its budget responsibly. In fact, one reporter at KAKE abjectly refused to print data showing Wichita has continued to receive records amounts of funding.

    The situation with schools in Kansas can be boiled down to a simple paradigm: facts versus emotion. We Republicans constantly argue with facts, data, charts, numbers. The other side, which consists of greedy lawyers, some school district officials, the teacher's union, many members of the media, and hordes of Twitter trolls and online commenters, approach the situation with emotion. They know they cannot win on the facts so they have manufactured a very stubborn and inaccurate narrative that constantly spins up emotional vortexes of feelings. Even though schools receive more money than ever, they can't accept that as fact, because they feel differently.

    It's mind-numbing trying to reason with feelings, because feelings are often out of line with reality. When that group is presented with data, instead of examining the situation objectively, they try to distract from the facts with new arguments and accusations. Typically these new arguments are completely off topic, inaccurate, and based on nothing more than emotion.

    Our job is to craft policy that puts kids first and gives them the best possible opportunities for their future. That can only be done rationally, as these decisions impact our children, grandchildren and kids all across the state. They are the top priority, not our feelings. 

    As this email was in the process of finalization, the Kansas Supreme dropped the latest Gannon opinion. It came at 5 p.m. the day before a long weekend. The court has yet again demonstrated it is the the most political body in the state of Kansas.

    In the opinion, the court acknowledged that the legislature worked to keep schools open, but they insisted on continuing to hold Kansas school children hostage by threatening to shut down schools on July 1. This despite the fact that the legislature acted in good faith to equalize the record amounts of money going to schools. It's ludicrous to think the court is planning to shut down schools over less than 1 percent of the total education budget.

    This will not end until the bench is cleared and Justices are put in place who respect the constitutional limits of their role. Thankfully, you have the opportunity to help make that happen in November.

    We will have more to come.