Kansas school funding: Can the education lobby be believed?


As the State of Kansas seeks to work its way out of a difficult budget shortfall, some groups aren’t willing to make the same sacrifice that is being asked of others.

The biggest offender — both in terms of dollars and shrillness — is the public school lobby in Kansas.

Last week we heard from Rep. Jim Ward, Democrat from Wichita, who said “you’re now cutting into the bone, the marrow, and you’re going to have a significant impact on the ability to deliver education.” (See Do Kansas Budget Cuts Pose a Threat to Wichita Education? for an explanation of the magnitude of these proposed cuts.)

Another group, Kansas Families for Education, sent out an email to its supporters containing language like this: “The Kansas Legislature is playing games with our children’s futures. We must stand up and SPEAK OUT against those who think that school funding can withstand these kind of cuts. … Why are Kevin Yoder and his allies so determined to wreak havoc on our schools? … Representative Bill Light tried a hail mary [sic] pass by trying to amend the bill to only a $44 dollar reduction per pupil (still too much for schools to handle.)”

The measure by Rep. Yoder would reduce state funding to schools by $88 per student, instead of $33 proposed by the Kansas Senate. To place these figures in context, USD 259, the Wichita public school district, spends some $13,000 per year for each student. The difference between $88 and $33 ($55) is somewhere around one-half of one percent of per-student spending.

I think an important observation we can draw is that if the warnings of the education lobby are true, the education of the children of Kansas hangs by a thread each year, a delicate balance between competing interests. Most Kansans, however, realize that these predictions made by the education lobby are nonsense. It’s now up to the Kansas House of Representatives to seek a sensible resolution to this problem.


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