For educators, Kansas isn’t Kansas anymore


Regardless of where you may teach, be grateful that you aren’t trying to teach in Kansas. If you are, you have my sympathy because even Dorothy and Toto wouldn’t recognize the place anymore, following the devastation to public education wrought by Gov. Sam Brownback and his legislative cronies.

It is so bad, according to the Washington Post item linked below, that teachers “can’t hotfoot it out of Kansas fast enough.”

Kansas teachers are among the lowest paid in the country – lower, on average, than Texas. They have been suffering through state budget cuts that seemingly won’t stop and are losing job protections. The result is a large teacher shortage that is expected to get worse. Several thousand Kansas teachers have either left the profession or taken their talents to other states, including neighboring Missouri.

Rather than adequately fund public education, Gov. Brownback and the Legislature cut taxes in 2012, and here are some of the things that have happened since:

# A state court declared part of Kansas’ school funding system unconstitutional.

# Some Kansas school districts ran out of money and had to end the school year early last spring.

# The Kansas Board of Education gave six school districts, including two of the state’s largest, the authority to hire unlicensed teachers. The board acted under a program for “innovative districts” created by the Kansas Legislature in 2013. It was based on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing organization promoting efforts throughout the country (including Texas) to under-fund public schools, declare them failures and then privatize them.

Brownback obviously is the kind of governor that ALEC likes. He reacted to all the problems by proposing another cut in per-pupil general school aid.

The mess in Kansas kind of makes me wonder why Brownback, a Republican, doesn’t run for president. He would be a disaster in the White House, but he would be right at home among a bunch of other anti-government, anti-public education candidates running for the GOP nomination.



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