The Kansas Constitution – protections for some but not everyone!
How can I make such a statement? Well, I just spent four days sitting in a courtroom, hearing the attorney representing our state suggest, imply, and at times directly say that not all students will achieve, that our standards are too high, and that some kids just won’t make it – and that’s just ok. The experience was intense, and at times, emotionally wrenching.
Our district was subjected to the attack that our expectations of “success for all of our students” are just not going to happen. It was directly said that our mission of “inspiring excellence” was unrealistic and that we (I) would never be satisfied with our funding, and would continue to ask for more and more. The state’s lead attorney said that the reason we were involved in the lawsuit was to pursue unattainable goals. He suggested that we substitute the word “perfection” for “excellence” as the chance of reaching our standards was unattainable. Really? Is it wrong to want every child to have access to a quality education? Is it wrong to expect that our Constitution, which specifically says “ . . . the legislature shall provide for intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement . . . and shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state” means every citizen?
It’s not about wanting more and more funding. It’s about providing the services and supports needed so that everyone has a chance to obtain the expectations outlined in Kansas law, and a chance to earn a piece of the American dream! The American dream for some, but in Kansas, apparently, we don’t mean everyone.
Last evening I heard Chad Taylor, district attorney for Shawnee County (Topeka) speak. He said how ironic it was that the school finance trial was taking place in the very courtroom in which children and youth are prosecuted for crimes and where parents, and the education system’s failure of our children, is never more apparent. He went on to report that the state of Kansas spends $52,000 a year to maintain an incarcerated individual, but refuses to provide suitable funding to educate children. Mr. Taylor’s facts stunned the crowd.
What we are asking for in the lawsuit is adequate and equitable funding to educate all children across the state. We are not grabbing for more and more money. What does it say about our state’s values when the state is willing to $52,000 a year to put a person in prison, and yet we are spending, on average, about 10 percent of that to educate our children? Maybe we are getting what we are willing to pay for . . . Consider it. It’s up to us.