Issues: Education (posted by John Willoughby 10/16/14)

16 Oct

Kansas has a longstanding, bipartisan tradition of solid support for education at all levels, from pre-school through post-graduate university education, and adult education. This tradition was built into its very Constitution from the beginning.

Recently, this tradition has been abandoned by the tea-party extremists who have hijacked the Republican Party. They want to weaken education at all levels. They want to cut back on state support for public education, leading to a series of lawsuits based on the Kansas constitutional requirement for state support. These lawsuits cost the State of Kansas unnecessary expenses and end up weakening the quality of education in Kansas, delaying the adequate funding of education at all levels, postponing the introduction of pre-school education, forcing higher costs for counties and cities throughout the state, forcing large tuition increases for colleges and universities in Kansas, and discouraging qualified teachers from choosing to teach in Kansas.

Education funding in Kansas has dropped back from the level it reached ten years ago, while inflation has increased. Minor increases in education funding last year were exaggerated by counting some replacement of the money needed to guarantee adequate funding for pensions (including pensions for government employees in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Kansas government) as if it were direct funding for education. The bill including the minor increases for classroom instruction costs was offset by ideologically based removal of most legal resources available to teachers to protect them from arbitrary, even whimsical, firing at will without any attention to the performance of the teachers as teachers and of pension availability to new teachers.

The tea-party extremists give budgetary issues as the spurious reasons for what is an ideological desire to weaken public education and replace it wherever possible by private schools inaccessible to the poor. The budgetary problems only exist because the tea-party extremists have cut income for the State of Kansas as a whole by reducing taxes on those who don’t need the reductions, the extremely wealthy (which has resulted in no net increase in employment by businesses owned by the extremely wealthy), on mid-sized businesses, and on start-ups which are not yet making enough money to pay any taxes (and these start-ups are the largest source of new jobs).

The tea-party Republicans need to be voted out of office.

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