David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, and Wade Henderson, president and chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, published an opinion piece in the New York Times today that examines the protracted fight over Kansas’ school funding formula.
As the fresh legislative session gets under way, Sciarra and Henderson lament the possibility that the Kansas legislature may consider an amendment taking away the “suitable” funding provision of the Constitution:
The signals thus far are not promising. If the Kansas Supreme Court orders restoration of the funding, legislators are threatening to amend the state’s Constitution by removing the requirement for “suitable” school funding and to strip Kansas courts of jurisdiction to hear school finance cases altogether. And if the amendment fails, they have vowed to defy any court order for increased funding or, at the very least, take the money from higher education.
A court-stripping constitutional amendment, and defiance of a state Supreme Court order, would shred the very fabric of Kansas’ government and send shock waves through state capitals across the nation.
Moreover, they say, Kansas may be a bellwether for the rest of the country:
Kansans rightfully take pride in their strong public school system. But as Kansas goes, so may go the nation. The Kansas Constitution, like those in other states, demands that every child be given the educational opportunity to meet his or her promise. This requires, at a minimum, adequate and suitable school funding. Governor Brownback and legislators must meet the constitutional command and, by so doing, advance the core American value of equal opportunity for all.
Check out the full piece here.