Journey of a Superintendent: It’s Storming

Dr. Cynthia Lane, Superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools

I have previously shared my thoughts in this space about the goodness of humankind. I have long held the belief that at the end of the day, those of us who commit to believing in human goodness will win out over those who promote hatred, racism, and who devalue other human beings in order to elevate themselves. I have not changed my belief, but these days, I find myself worrying about some decision-makers, who are apparently unwilling to approach solutions to difficult circumstances from the view that all human beings matter.

The education of our children seems to me to be the most important responsibility we have as adults. Every generation has the obligation to educate the youth of the next generation. I get it: the economy is forcing all of us to closely examine what we want from state government, and how we spend our tax dollars. Yet, I am struggling to understand why we are promoting tax reductions for a few, at the expense of providing adequate and equitable funding for the education of every child in Kansas. I mean, really? A movement to change the State’s Constitution, to weaken the obligation of the legislature to provide suitable funding for public schools? And don’t get me started on those who would suggest that school districts have all the money we need and that we are choosing not to spend it on educating our youth.  These comments are false, intentionally misleading, and seem grounded in a desire to crush public schools.

How did we get here? The Supreme Court of Kansas directed the State Legislature to follow the Constitution in the Montoy case. Our elected officials took actions to “suitably” fund schools by increasing the amount of money spent on schools. So what created our current problem? After making a promise and creating an obligation to fund public schools, they then went ahead and cut taxes. It’s like obligating yourself for a major purchase and then deciding to only work a few hours a week. You know you have a financial obligation, but you have no plan on how to fund that obligation. Our current situation could have been predicted in 2005, yet the state did little to nothing to prepare. Maybe that was the plan? Do nothing, create a crisis, and then push the obligation for paying the bills to someone else?

Maybe I am being too harsh. I don’t want to leave you thinking I am pointing fingers at everyone. There are many elected officials who fully understand that educating our children is the number one priority. I am thankful for our local delegation, who advocate for school funding. Everyday these legislators and many others around the State of Kansas are fighting for our kids and trying to find solutions to the economic crisis. These courageous representatives need our support.

We all need to get involved. It seems to me that we need to provide for the education of each and every child in Kansas first, and then talk about the other areas that our state government is responsible to support. Oh I know, some will say we want to take funds away from the elderly and disabled. That’s not the case. But do we really want to cut corporate and payroll taxes at the expense of our children, elderly, and others who need our help? I hope not. Kansas has always been a great place to raise children. I hope we can say that five years from now. What I do know is “it’s up to us” to shape the future for our children. We are about to define “Kansas.”

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One Response to Journey of a Superintendent: It’s Storming

  1. Becky Billigmeier says:

    Contratulations on being a part of the new partnership between KCK and Google. You did an amazing job and smiling while our governor spoke must have taken great inner strength.

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