I believe that part of the work I do is about encouraging the human spirit in every grownup and every child in our organization. I am idealistic enough to believe that with enough effort, we can realize our dreams. I really do believe that, at the end of the day, those of us who commit to evoking the essential goodness of humanity will win out over all those forces that promote evil, selfishness, and the interests of the few over the needs of the many. I guess I am sharing this with you as a reminder to myself that we can do what we need to do, not matter what challenges we face.
We are moving into the season for education in Kansas, that is much like waiting for a strong winter storm to approach. The forecasters are telling us that the economic situation in Kansas is declining. Hearing the projections, we need to be preparing for the worst, bundling up, and staying indoors. As someone who grew up here in Kansas, I’m not afraid of a good storm, and I am preparing to lead this district into the eye of this storm. The storm will surely come. Every indication is that the State of Kansas can’t afford to continue at its current spending level, continue the current tax cuts, and also meet its obligations.
My question is: “How can we not meet our obligation to our children?” Every decision we make should be to ensure that our children’s education, and their futures, are protected. Now, I want to believe in the goodness of human beings, that we will make the right decisions at the end of the day. Yet I know it won’t be easy. How might we come together to define the quality of life we want in Kansas? Will this quality extend to all, or just to those fortunate enough to live in wealthy communities?
What I worry about is the possibility that our goals, and our hopes and dreams for our kids here in KCK, could be compromised if decisions about school funding are not made to ensure quality education for all students across the state. I know many will say that the money simply is not there. Yes, it is true that we have less revenue, but we do have funds. It’s all in how we choose to use the funds we have available.
I want to believe that no one would choose to balance the state budget on the backs of our children. At the same time, the forecasters are suggesting that school funding may be cut by $330 per student. The reality is that a cut like that would translate, for districts of low wealth, into as much as $633 in cuts, based on the current school finance formula. If decisions are not made that value every child, those who can least afford it will be impacted the most.
We are not in the storm yet, but every indication is that it’s coming. I will share with you in future blog posts, more about what we are doing in KCKPS to prepare ourselves, while protecting the future of our children. I believe my work is to encourage the human spirit. I may need you to encourage mine as the storm draws closer.