Our latest email blast

Did you receive the email we sent February 18?  If not, join our email list at gameonforpubliceducation@gmail.com.  Here’s what we sent out.
The future of our schools depends on you.  Please take a moment to read this message from Game On for Kansas Schools, a nonpartisan grassroots group of parents, educators and community members devoted to protecting Kansas public education.  Then, please contact your state representative and senator and tell them the importance of protecting our schools.  If you have never contacted your legislator or if you do so frequently, please contact them now.  
Legislation has been introduced that may not appear directly related to education but much of it is, in fact, designed to limit school funding now and into the future, and impose other harmful policies on our education system
Legislative Issues


Gannon v. State

Key to understanding much of what has happened in the first part of this legislative session is understanding that two days before the session opened, a panel of Shawnee judges ruled the legislature was violating its constitutional obligation to make “suitable provision” for the funding of schools, relying largely on the 2005 Kansas Supreme Court Montoy decision.  You have probably read some of our state’s leaders claiming that the courts overstepped their bounds in ordering the legislature to allocate funds for schools.  They fail to acknowledge that the Montoy court didn’t set the $4,492 Base State Aid Per Pupil number that is now being ordered.  Rather the Montoy court told the legislature they were underfunding schools and they needed to look at the costs of providing an education to determine funding.  The legislature then hired Augenblick and Meyers to do a cost analysis, which resulted in a number near $4,492.  The legislature commissioned another study (which is referred to as the Legislative Post Audit) which also came up with a number near $4,492.  With those studies as a basis, the legislature then set the $4,492 BSAPP and agreed to reach that funding level.  A later legislative body, the 2010 Legislative Commission, agreed with the same funding figure. 

In the Gannon case, the court looked back at Montoy, said the State hadn’t shown costs had gone down or any reason to disregard the earlier studies and ordered them to abide by the constitution and their own agreement from 2005. 


Judicial Selection

Our legislature is also looking at two different constitutional amendments arising out of the Gannon decision. The first one seeks to change our state’s system of selecting appellate judges.  Kansas appellate judges are selected on merit, as determined by a panel of attorneys elected by the Kansas bar, and of citizens appointed by the governor.  Recently the Kansas Senate passed a bill that would allow the governor to handpick appellate judges, with senate confirmation.

 Although proponents of the change have attempted to cast the debate in terms of promoting democracy, the admitted purpose of the bill is to install judges who will allow the legislature to slide on its constitutionally mandated job of funding public education. Kansas’ method of selecting judges has been etched in the state constitution for more than 50 years. Changing the method requires a constitutional amendment, which requires two-thirds majorities of the Senate and House of Representatives, and a simple majority of a public vote.

A coalition of pro-education Republicans and Democrats has blocked the bill in the House of Representatives.  Pressure on these representatives from multiple school funding opponents will be fierce.  Please contact your representative and tell them to support public schools by protecting our appellate judges.  Right now, the judiciary is the only branch of state government protecting our children’s constitutional right to public education.  Tell your representative to protect the judiciary by preventing it from being politicized and vote NO on the judicial selection constitutional amendment.  


Paycheck Restrictions

The House also passed heavy-handed restrictions on workers’ ability to voluntarily have political action dues deducted from their paychecks.  The bill was misnamed the “Payroll Protection Act” and couched as an attack against union bosses.  In the process, our teachers were portrayed as “union thugs” because they support the Kansas chapter of the National Education Association (NEA). 

Teachers and KNEA have long advocated for education funding.  By encumbering teachers’ ability to fund the KNEA’s political voice, the House has sought to stifle political dissent. SMSD area Representatives Bruchman, Grosserode, Hildabrand, Kinzer, Meigs, Rubin and Todd voted to limit your teachers’ political voice.


Constitutional Amendment
 We are also facing another constitutional amendment, this time to bail the legislature out of its duty to fully fund education.  As discussed above, a Shawnee court ruled last month that the legislature must obey the constitution and make “suitable” provision for funding schools as determined by the legislature’s own studies.  Many of our state leaders have improperly demonized the ruling and the judiciary for imposing tax hikes on Kansans. At the direction of Governor Brownback, the Kansas Attorney General has appealed the ruling.  Recently,  again at the request of the Governor, Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed two motions with the Kansas Supreme Court requesting mediation of the dispute in the school finance litigation as well as a stay of the district court’s decision issued last month. Both could be viewed as stall tactics as the legislature debates the constitutional amendment.


Lastly, several bills have been introduced to reduce or eliminate organizations and elected officials who monitor and advocate for public policy.  Some bills would prohibit using state appropriated funds to publicize information to support or oppose legislation at the state or local level or lobbying altogether. Our school district personnel are busy running our district and do not have time to be in Topeka representing our interests. Organizations like the Kansas Association of School Boards advocate for our local school board on issues affecting our educational services, mandates and our community’s views on issues such as guns in schools. Our school boards have been elected to represent our voice in our schools. Limiting that voice is not good government.


What You Can Do
Please contact your representative and senator and tell them to restore cuts to our schools by abiding by the Kansas constitution, not changing it.  Tell them that income earned by a state employee is no longer state money thus the government should have no say in how it is spent. Tell them that stifling the ability of our elected officials (representing our school boards, counties, and city governments) to advocate for our communities on public policy issues limits discussion and the ability to monitor legislation. You can also write a letter to the editor, or host a letter-writing coffee.  Join us in representing the interests of your children and the future of Kansas.

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