By Iola Register, Jan. 16
According to Gov. Brownback’s speech Jan. 15, Kansas is leading a moral renaissance by evidence of our superior family values and work ethic.
Education remains a top priority, the governor said in his annual State of the State address.
“Kansas ranks fourth among all states in the percentage of our budget committed to education,” Brownback said, leading listeners to believe we are a top-tier funder.
That’s a half-truth. Twenty years ago, Kansas changed how it funds education by cutting property taxes. Today’s levy for schools is capped at 20 mills, down from 35 mills.
Overall, base aid to Kansas schools is significantly lower compared to other states — and slipping.
The same goes for higher education.
Not one word was said about restoring recent cuts to education.
In fact, Brownback bolstered legislators to keep this de-funding mechanism on track. He took umbrage at the Kansas Supreme Court, saying justices have no role in saying what a suitable education for Kansas children should be, in spite of the Kansas Constitution.
Kansas legislators need no guidance, he said.
Can’t you tell?
As for rural Kansas, the Rural Opportunity Zone program is such a success that “we now have a housing shortage in many of our rural communities,” Brownback crowed. As if the decline in rural housing stock is due to a massive influx of new residents.
No governor, the reason we lack adequate housing is because we are not replacing those that fall into disrepair, because of a lack of good jobs in our area, because of a decline in educational opportunities. Children get one shot at a good education.
The future of rural Kansas, especially, is dim if we continue to have crowded classrooms, old textbooks and inadequate supplies, all of which hamper the educational experience.
To his credit, Brownback advocated all-day kindergarten and its statewide implementation. The program would not only provide a better educational foundation for Kansas children, but also relieve school districts that charge parents for such programs.
Kansas is leading an “American Renaissance,” Brownback said, with a return to the strong traits exhibited by our forefathers.
“We know the way,” he said. “God wrote it on our hearts.”