Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Well-Funded Public Schools Benefit Us All

Attention Kansas parents with children in public school:  Bullies in The Kansas Legislature are at it again, picking on the most vulnerable members of our society, citizens who don't even get to vote until they are eighteen.  We must advocate on their behalf.  Our kids deserve our attention on this matter.  People in power rely on our ignorance to push through their selfish agendas.  The Capital-Journal is doing a fine job reporting the news.  Let's do our part to educate ourselves about it.  This article, for example, lays it out pretty simply:

"Less than a month after a court ruled that Kansas schools are underfunded by $440 million, a bill has been introduced in the Senate that could cut millions in funding for at-risk students, hitting high-poverty areas the hardest."

The Lawrence Journal-World is also keeping a check on conservative Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who are thumbing their noses at the whole process of checks and balances:

"Conservative Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned a recent order by a three-judge panel to increase public school funding by $440 million. The judges ruled that the Legislature had failed its constitutional duty to provide suitable funding for schools.  But Judiciary Chairman Jeff King, R-Independence, is pushing back at the decision.  He said the committee next week would hold hearings on a proposed constitutional amendment that is meant to thwart judicial review of school funding. The proposal would declare that the Legislature has exclusive authority over state funding of schools."

Parents, we need to know what these people in power are doing to our state's public education system.  I know it's hard.  I know we're all busy and tired and overloaded with bad news.  But there are few things more important than a good education, and most people I know can't afford to quit their jobs to stay home with their kids every day to homeschool them, or pay extra for private school.

Many of my conservative friends like to quote our founding fathers.  Here's one of my favorite quotes from one of them about public education:

"I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people.  No other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom and happiness...Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance: establish & improve the law for educating the common people.  Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests, and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance."  -- Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson's right.  It's not just parents who need to pay attention to what's going on in Topeka.  A wise woman who volunteers at the library where I work once said something that will always stick with me during times like these when our leaders are trying to decimate funding for public schools.  She and her husband are in their seventies.  They never had children.  Her husband is a retired lawyer and she is a retired office worker.  Because of their wealth, they are in one of the highest tax brackets.  And they gladly pay their taxes.  Despite the fact that they never sent any offspring to public school, they always vote in favor of more public school funding.

"People think it's because we're altruistic or that we believe in the power of a well-educated society, which is true to some degree.  But really we support well-funded public schools because good public schools keep the property value of our house up and if we ever decide to sell, we want as much money as we can get out of our house so we can travel the world."

Smart thinking.
A well-funded public education system is a good investment for our entire society, not just the parents of school-aged kids.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is just plain ignorant.

Want to voice your opinion?  Contact members of the Kansas House of Representatives here and the Kansas Senate here.