Archives for category: Kansas

The Kansas Reflector reported that the state legislature plans to enact voucher legislation that will defund public schools. The pro-voucher legislators spout on about “parental rights,” but their real enemy is public school teachers. They accuse teachers of promoting a radical “woke” agenda and pushing sexual deviance on their students.

These ideas have not a scintilla of evidence behind them. They are smears. Plain and simple. How Kansas parents can listen to this extremist claptrap without demanding the recall of these extremists is a mystery.

TOPEKA — Between voucher programs and new parental rights legislation, education officials say public schools are having a rough time.

During a recording of the Kansas Reflector podcast, Marcus Baltzell, director of communications for the Kansas National Education Association, and Leah Fliter, Kansas Association of School Boards assistant executive director of advocacy, discussed the state of K-12 education, along with recent legislation that would take away funding from public schools.

Voucher bills

Baltzell said recently proposed voucher programs were blatant power grabs, including House Bill 2218, which would become the “sunflower education equity act” if passed. The bill passed out of committee Wednesday in a modified form.

While full implementation wouldn’t happen until four years after the legislation is passed, the program would allow parents to set aside a portion of public school funding — about $5,000 per student — for use at private or home schools, including unregulated, unaccredited schools.

HB2218 would also set up a 10-member board to manage the program, which would receive compensation. Critics have said the board would be slanted in favor of Republicans because of member requirements, and also might have too broad an influence on K-12 education in the state.

“If you wanted to set up a kind of a shadow board of education, if you wanted to completely circumnavigate the Constitution and the constitutional authority of the State Board of Education, this is how you would do it,” Baltzell said. “You would set up this group, you would tie it to legislation around a voucher scheme, you would then set up this board that has essentially decision-making authority over all aspects of this.”

Baltzell and Fliter also discussed House Bill 2048, which would expand a tax credit that allows taxpayers to write off up to $500,000 worth of scholarships they provide for private schools.

Another bill, Senate Bill 128, would give taxpayers a refundable income tax credit for K-12 children not enrolled in public schools. The bill stipulates that taxpayers who have a student enrolled in an accredited nonpublic school or a nonaccredited school registered with the Kansas State Department of Education are eligible. The tax credit would be given to Kansans starting in fiscal year 2024, as long as their student isn’t included in the enrollment of a public school district.

Fliter said legislation like this is meant to draw students and funding away from public schools by giving financial incentives for parents to switch to private education. She said lawmakers were framing the legislation as a way to give parents more educational freedom in order to popularize the idea.

“They know that the voucher thing is not popular,” Fliter said. “And so to cast it as a parent’s right over their child is another tactic. Kansas parents have many, many, many legal rights over their children. Children are minors until they turn 18. That means their parent or guardian has legal rights over their education, over everything they do. And so it’s just a somewhat cynical ploy to try to make a voucher seem more palatable.”

Rhetoric around teachers

The two said rhetoric surrounding public school and public school teachers also served to lure parents away from public education. Lawmakers have discussed a new form of parental rights legislation and accused teachers of being too radical.

Under House Bill 2236, parents could object to any educational materials or activities they believe would harm the student’s or parents’ beliefs, values or principles. Educational materials would include reading material, websites, videos and textbooks. Parents could withdraw their children from courses they find objectionable without harm to the student’s academic records. Critics of the bill say the legislation is overbroad.

During the bill hearing, Rep. Owen Donohue, a Shawnee Republican, said he thought it would be embarrassing to be a teacher, especially because they were teaching materials such as critical race theory. Donohoe said he was glad parents had the option of scholarships and homeschooling.

“If you look at history, it’s just an abysmal record,” Donohoe said. “It’s embarrassing to say, I would think, that I’m a teacher, when we’re getting the kind of results, or have been, in this state.”

Republicans in the House and Senate have made fighting a so-called “sexualized woke agenda” a legislative priority this session, with some arguing that Kansas students are struggling with mental health as a result of being taught an unnecessary and radical curriculum in public schools.

A former teacher of the year who appeared before lawmakers to urge them to stop using harmful rhetoric about public educators was told that people like her were the real deterrent.

Who are these people? Why do they hate teachers? What’s wrong with them? Did they get low grades? Were they the class clowns?

Liz Meitl is a public school teacher in Kansas. She usually testifies against vouchers and other forms of privatization, but she suddenly realized what she could do if the Kansas legislature passes a voucher bill. She would open a completely unregulated school to do what the rightwingers fear most!

She wrote in The Kansas Reflector:


Liz Meitl

Liz Meitl testifies Feb. 6, 2023, before the House K-12 Education Budget Committee regarding legislation that would create vouchers for unregulated, unaccreddited private schools. GOP education proposals could allow for schools to turn into indoctrination mills, Meitl writes. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from Kansas Legislature YouTube channel)

Two years ago I wrote an opinion piece for the Kansas Reflector in which I argued that the Legislature should be celebrating Kansas public schools, rather than trying to tear them apart through voucher plans.

In the two years since, the fight has been ongoing, with no break in the Legislature’s efforts to destroy public education. This year’s session has brought us a tidal wave of proposed legislation that would divert hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools to private schools.

The legislation has shifted, though. Now it’s not just for low-income students, or for already established private schools.

The new legislation allows any kid to access the funds, and it allows anybody to set up a school. And so I have had an entirely serious change of heart. I am in no way taking a ridiculous idea to its logical extreme, so just put that out of your mind right now.

Let me explain.

Bills in the House and Senate that would allow families to use state money to send their kids to private schools — specifically House Bill 2218 — represent an enormous opportunity for Kansas educators. This legislation will allow Kansas to be a beacon to the rest of the country. Just as the world watched on Aug. 2nd as Kansans defeated the anti-choice agenda, the world can now watch as our liberal, woke educators are freed from the bonds of bureaucratic oversight and local, state and federal regulations.

Other educators, like me, will jump at the chance to open our own micro-schools and enact our own curricular agendas. We will be able to recruit the students we want to teach. We will no longer be asked to serve all students equitably, but instead we can create small, insular communities of learners, focused on the topics we feel are most valuable.

This is an enormous opportunity for all Kansas teachers who are tired of being subject to democratically elected school boards’ rules and out-of-touch federal lawmakers’ regulations.

When I think about opening my own school, I can’t help but be thrilled at the potential freedom. I will have the opportunity to teach English classes rooted in critical race theory. I know many legislators think we teach CRT now, but really there is so much oversight and collaboration that I am hamstrung and forced to teach lessons based on “pedagogical research” and “student data.”

This legislation will allow me to teach what many of the conservatives assumed I most want to teach: a leftist agenda focused on my Marxist, atheist ideology.

I can create a social studies class anchored in the history of white people as oppressors and colonizers. I can develop a rich, interdisciplinary course of study in which we study the benefits of recreational marijuana and psilocybin, and we can take scientific field trips to grow houses and dispensaries. My math classes will focus on the benefits of a socialist economy, and I will do my best to cultivate highly educated, intrinsically motivated radicals.

Further, work with my students will be based on a feelings-first curriculum. Their social and emotional well-being will drive instruction. I recognize legislators’ intent, that parents need to choose educational environments, so I will invite parents to provide tokens of comfort from home and I will use them to decorate our classroom.

Without the burden of state-mandated assessments weighing me down, and free from any governmental oversight, I will have the bandwidth to focus on supporting students’ identities. That will be especially rewarding for me and my LGBTQIA students.

In addition to the curricular and practical freedoms offered, this legislation creates an enormous financial opportunity. I know, without a doubt, that I can recruit 21 students to attend my little school. I have a big basement, and the materials will come from my own head (and heart), so I will have almost no overhead.

This means that I will make somewhere around $100,000 annually, based on current base state aid per student. This is substantially more than I earn now, and I will be responsible for many fewer students. It is clearly a financial windfall for any motivated adult.

In conclusion, these bills are a giant win for Kansas educators and youths. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.

The total lack of oversight and regulation, combined with the financial incentives, create an almost irresistible opportunity for those of us with an agenda for our state’s future. Teachers’ dedication to Kansas’s public schools and serving every student will certainly mean almost nothing when we consider the possibilities offered via this legislation.


Liz Meitl is a public school teacher in USD 500, and her two children attend Kansas public schools. Through its opinion section, Kansas Reflector works to amplify the voices of people who are affected by public policies or excluded from public debate. Find information, including how to submit your own commentary, here.

You know our democracy is in trouble when legislators flat-out ignore the will of the voters. When a referendum goes to the voters, and the voters decisively say NO, Republican legislators create a work-around. That’s what happened in Arizona, where voters rejected vouchers by 65-35%; Republicans responded to their loss by proposing a dramatic expansion of their voucher programs.

Now in Kansas, the Daiky Kos reports that Republicans are developing ways to bypass a state referendum in 2022 in which voters stunningly rebuked a proposal to outlaw abortion by

Imagine that your party puts forward a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion before the public, and it gets demolished by voters. I mean, the kind of blowout we didn’t even see in a presidential election in Kansas, a deep-red state. In 27 out of 40 state state Senate districts, the amendment was defeated. Statewide, the amendment was a disaster for Republicans, helped set the stage for the retention of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, and made way for an equally solid win by Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids in a newly drawn district geared at making her a candidate they could beat.

So how do Republicans respond to this news in the land of Oz? I would say they are doubling down but at this point, I can’t even keep track of how many times they are going back to this old chestnut.

Legislation proposed by GOP state Sen. Chase Blasi, who recently replaced state Sen. Gene Sullentrop, indicates that Republicans have decided that, if Kansas residents won’t approve abortion bans, city councils and city governments will. Republicans hope they will find themselves stacked up with conservatives willing to ban abortion procedures everywhere in Kansas that they still exist.

Blasi represents District 27, where 54% of voters rejected the anti-abortion constitutional amendment. Despite that, the newly minted state senator wants to make a splash—by working at crafting legislation that would result in exactly the opposite of what his district chose at the ballot box.

Nothing says “I respect voters” like trying to fool them into thinking the issue is over—while putting the issue in front of friends and allies in lower offices before voters have even had a chance to consider who represents them. That’s right: Imagine passing legislation that allows a local city council member or mayor to move on an anti-abortion agenda three years into their term—when such a policy was expressly impossible for those three years, and before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The bill offers a straightforward change to Kansas statute:

(b) No political subdivision of the state shall regulate or restrict abortion Except as provided in subsection (a), nothing shall prevent any city or county from regulating abortion within its boundaries as long as the regulation is at least as stringent as or more stringent than imposed by state law. In such cases, the more stringent local regulation shall control

The endgame here is not that hard to calculate. Republicans believe that their attempt to ban abortion during a special election failed because it got the attention of voters. If they can continuously place the issue on every single ballot from now on, voters will be forced to take abortion access into consideration in city council votes and mayoral votes in every locale in Kansas.

While there are few actual clinics in the state, fear, uncertainty, and doubt could certainly propel elections in every community—including places like my own sub-1,000-population hometown—into wild debates. Does our town want to allow a clinic? Would a council member vote to permanently ban one from ever coming into town?

With more Democrat-friendly city governments and county commissions in larger communities, Republicans are hoping to take on abortion again this November. This is a strategy built on moving the goalposts, to keep trying to make it easier and easier for the side that lost—badly—to come back and declare victory.

For Kansans who believed the Aug. 2 “No” vote on the constitutional amendment banning reproductive care would be the end of Republican attacks on the issue, it’s now crystal clear: Kansas Republicans have no intent of giving up on forcing birth, and banning abortion remains one of their top goals—whether the public is with them or not.

During the Trump administration, Congress appropriated billions of dollars for COVID relief, mostly to help small businesses survive by paying their employees. The main relief was the Payroll Protection Program, which dispersed nearly $800 billion. The program was run through the Small Business Administration, and there was little, if any, oversight. Some businesses that didn’t need financial aid applied for money and got it.

Millions of dollars were paid out to businesses, churches, synagogues, private schools, charter schools, religious schools, and all sorts of other enterprises. Charter schools, which never lost funding, received more than a billion dollars and received six times as much COVID relief as public schools. Public schools were not allowed to apply for the PPP program. ProPublica created a site where you can see who received PPP money in any zip code.

In Kansas, a former legislator was just convicted of COVID fraud. His case was noteworthy because his calling card was his alleged deep religious faith. Just as interesting is the publication in which the story appears. It’s called Only Sky, and it is pointedly a voice for secularism in a region where Elmer Gantry could get rich every day at tent revivals. The story was written by Hemant Mehta.

Michael Capps, a former Kansas lawmaker who once sponsored a bill to put the words “In God We Trust” in every federal building, has been found guilty of committing COVID relief fraud and money laundering.

His career wasn’t supposed to end this way. In 2018, the Republican was appointed to the Kansas State House and won his own election bid later that year. Like other members of his party, he used his time in office to push Christianity on everyone. That’s why, in addition to his anti-trans and anti-abortion bills, Capps sponsored a bill to put “In God We Trust” in public buildings, including public schools….

Capps was defeated in 2020.

After losing that race, he could have just faded away. Instead, in 2021, Capps was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of COVID relief fraud and money laundering:

An indictment filed by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas says Capps bilked federal, state and local agencies for more than $450,000 in COVID-19 business recovery funds.

Capps inflated his payroll and applied for loans to pay employees who don’t exist, according to the indictment.

The federal indictment says Capps laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID relief funding through his businesses and charity between May and August 2020.

Why did Capps do it? Maybe because the words “In God We Trust” weren’t on the walls of his office building. Or maybe because criminals are criminals and Christianity makes for a great cover story to stop people from looking over you shoulder while you’re working on a scam.

Whatever the reason, a jury has now found Michael Capps guilty on 12 felony charges (out of a possible 18):

Capps defrauded Emprise Bank, U.S. Small Business Administration and Kansas Department of Commerce out of $355,550 in COVID-19 recovery funds, the jury found. He then transferred the money through business and personal accounts, including some money that went into investment funds.

Capps remains out on bond while he awaits his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for March 10. He could face millions of dollars in fines and decades in prison.

He should be excited. That’s plenty of time to read the Bible over and over….

Again: This was a guy who spent his time in office pretending that Jesus made you a better person. He was a liar then. He’s a liar now. He’s a perfect example of why you should never trust a politician who takes the Bible more seriously than the Constitution.

Robert Hubbell blogs about the frightening new face of the GOP and an important reason for the surprising victory of reproductive rights forces in Kansas.

He writes:

The GOP is rapidly embracing autocracy and white Christian nationalism as its rallying cry. That rightward drift is anxiety-producing and creates the understandable urge to look away. We cannot do so. However painful or revolting it is to watch the descent of the GOP into madness and hate, if we hope to defeat the anti-democratic forces animating the Republican Party, we must be clear-eyed about the threat the party poses to American democracy.

We must be explicit in naming and describing the threat. We must identify and defeat every foot-solider and sympathizer who promotes or excuses tyranny and white nationalism. If we do so, we will preserve democracy. We can win. We will win. But only if we fight from a position firmly rooted in reality. From that vantage, let’s look at the GOP’s latest flirtations with white nationalism and despotism.

The influential and ultraconservative Conservative Political Action Conference is holding its latest meeting in Dallas, Texas. (Where else?) CPAC’s two keynote speakers are Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Donald Trump. Both are wannabe dictators, though Orbán has made more progress towards that goal than Trump.

Orbán promotes an ugly brand of politics based on hate and racial superiority (for whites, of course). He has recently saidthat Hungarians “do not want to become peoples of mixed race,” causing one of his cabinet members to resign, saying Orbán’s remarks were “a pure Nazi speech worthy of Goebbels.” He blames much of the world’s troubles on George Soros—an attack line that is a dog-whistle for antisemites. Indeed, he went so far at the CPAC conference to claim that “a Christian politician cannot be racist” because . . . well, because they are Christian. And like the Nazis, Orbán has led a national crusade of discrimination against LGBTQ people.

In most of the world, an audience would recoil in horror at remarks that explicitly invoked the Nazi ideologies of antisemitism, racial superiority, and discrimination against LGBTQ people. Not at the CPAC convention in Texas. Orbán received multiple standing ovations as he delivered remarks that could have easily been delivered in Nazi Germany in 1935. See The Independent, Fresh from furor over ‘Nazi’ speech, Hungarian PM Viktor Orban welcomed by American conservatives.

Notably, no Republican politician has condemned Orbán’s remarks. Instead, they are lining up to speak at CPAC. Other speakers comfortable sharing the podium with a “Nazi-curious” dictator include Trump, Ted Cruz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, and Sean Hannity. No surprises there.

The despotic yearnings of CPAC are not an aberration. They have become part of the GOP DNA. Charles M. Blow addresses this trend in his column in the NYTimes on Thursday: Opinion | The Republican Party Is the Anti-Democracy Party. Blow notes that The Heritage Foundation (self-described as “the most influential conservative group in America) is actively promoting the idea that “America is not a democracy,” but a “republic.”

While that statement is a truism (there are no pure democracies in the world), The Heritage Foundation uses the term “republic” to mean “white nationalist patriarchy.” Strong words, I know, but here is what The Heritage Foundation wrote in 2020:

America is threatened by an egalitarianism that undermines the social, familial, religious, and economic distinctions and inequalities that undergird our political liberty.

That passage deserves re-reading. The Heritage Foundation claims that America is threatened by “egalitarianism.” What?! Egalitarianism is defined as “the doctrine that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.” So, the Heritage Foundation is against “equal rights and opportunities for all??

Yes, it is! The Heritage Foundation goes on to say that “inequalities undergird ourpolitical liberty.” Re-read the preceding phrase—twice! It is breathtaking. In that phrase, “our” can only refer to the privileged, white elite that has ruled America since its founding. For The Heritage Foundation, “our political liberty” is based on “inequality.” Unbelievable.

So, the two leading Republican advocacy groups are actively promoting a white, Christian nationalism that is antithetical to the declaration that created America: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . . .

If we can get past the grievance mentality that Trump manipulates to his advantage, the positions embraced by CPAC and The Heritage Foundation are repugnant to most Americans. We need only articulate that truth in a way that resonates with their inherent belief in the American promise of equality. If we can do that, we have a fighting chance to turn the GOP’s message of hate against its most ardent promoters. The victory in Kansas points the way. Read on!

Messaging in Kansas.

With the benefit of 48 hours hindsight, it is becoming clear that a critical component of the victory in Kansas was messaging (a fact noted by dozens of readers in Comments and emails today). Charlie Sykes does an excellent job of reviewing the commentary on this issue in his Morning Shots newsletter. From WaPo,

Abortion rights supporters used conservative-sounding language about government mandates and personal freedom in their pitch to voters, and made a point of reaching out to independents, Libertarians and moderate Republicans.

And check out this television ad that describes the anti-abortion effort as an attempt to impose “a strict government mandate” that was “a slippery slope that would put more of your individual rights at risk.”

Messaging wasn’t the only reason that reproductive choice won in Kansas on Tuesday, but it was undoubtedly one of the reasons that a majority of persuadable Independents and some Republicans voted “No” on the anti-choice measure.

It will not require an advertising genius to draft ads demonstrating that the ugly ideologies of CPAC and The Heritage Group are antithetical to America’s founding ideals.

We can do that. We did it. In Kansas.

Kansas was the first state in the nation to hold a referendum on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Kansas protects the right to abortion in its state constitution. A “yes” vote would have repealed that protection and enabled the GOP majority in the legislature to write new restrictions or to ban abortion altogether. A “no” vote would protect the abortion language in the state constitution.

In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the state constitution protected abortion rights. Anti-abortion activists hoped that this referendum would reverse the 2019 decision.

The judges in Kansas blocked the law on the basis of the state Constitution’s Bill of Rights, ruling that it “affords protection of the right of personal autonomy, which includes the ability to control one’s own body.” This extends, they ruled, to the decision of whether to have an abortion.

Political commentators expected a close vote. Kansas is a conservative state, even though it has a Democratic Governor.

The vote was not close. The vote to preserve abortion rights in the state constitution was decisive. At last count, it was about 60%-40%.

Voters of both parties supported women’s right to bodily autonomy.

CNN commented:

Polls have consistently shown that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is broadly unpopular. A CNN poll released in late July found nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the Supreme Court decision, with even 55% of self-identified moderate or liberal Republicans saying they disapproved of the decision. But the results on Tuesday, the first electoral test of abortion rights after the Supreme Court decision, put an even finer point on that sentiment.

One can only imagine what would happen if abortion rights were put on the ballot in every red state, rather than left to the male-dominated state legislatures who would like to turn back the clock by at least 50 years and keep women barefoot and pregnant.

In the fog of the pandemic, it’s hard to keep track of school closings and cancellation of state testing.

In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly ordered closure of school buildings but schooling will

CLARIFICATION: Governor Kelly didn’t cancel school for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. She closed school buildings. Schools will be working to implement Continuous Learning plans for all students.
KS Dept of Education @ksdehq

Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas announced that all schools are closed for the rest of the school year.

Governor closes Kansas schools, puts most state employees on administrative leave

Be prepared to hear about more states doing the same.

No one knows how long the global pandemic will continue, but there’s no end in sight.


Jan Resseger describes the after-effects of former Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s crash program to cut corporate and income taxes and expect an economic boom. The boom never came, but public services were strained to the breaking point.

Jan quotes liberally from Governing magazine:

Governing Magazine just published an extraordinary profile of Kansas state government—what was left of it after Sam Brownback’s tenure.  Last November when a Democrat, Laura Kelly, took office, the new governor found herself assessing the damage from two terms of total austerity. Reporter, Alan Greenblatt describes a state unable to serve the public:

“To students of state politics, the failed Kansas experiment with deep cuts to corporate and income tax rates—which GOP Gov. Sam Brownback promised would lead to an economic flowering, and which instead led to anemic growth and crippling deficits—is well known.  What is not as well understood, even within Kansas, is the degree to which years of underfunding and neglect have left many state departments and facilities hollowed out…. All around Kansas government, there are stories about inadequate staffing…. Staff turnover in social services in general and at the state prisons has led to dozens of missing foster children and a series of prison uprisings… During the Brownback administration, from 2011 to 2018, prison staff turnover doubled, to more than 40 percent per year, while the prison population increased by 1,400 inmates, or 15 percent.  Guards have been burned out by mandatory over time and by pay scales that have failed to keep pace with increased insurance premiums and copays, let alone inflation. With inadequate and inexperienced staff, the prisons began employing a technique known as ‘collapsing posts,’ meaning some areas were simply left unguarded.”

The consequences for other states that tried to cut their way to prosperity were equally calamitous.

 Kansas has a State Supreme Court that pays attention to the State Constitution and cares about the future of the state, which rests on the educational opportunities of its children. Isn’t that novel these days!

June 24, 2019
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By Wendy Lecker

The Kansas Supreme Court has found the State’s most recent school funding formula to be adequate but will retain jurisdiction to make certain the State fully phases in required funding increases through 2023. The Court’s ruling, issued June 14, is the latest decision in Gannon v. State, Kansas’ long-running lawsuit challenging inadequate public education funding.

The Gannon case was filed in 2010, after the State walked away from implementing a funding remedy ordered by the Supreme Court in an earlier case, Montoy v. State. In a 2005 decision in Montoy, the Court threw out the State’s school finance system and ordered reforms to ensure Kansas school children adequate resources to give them a meaningful opportunity to achieve academic standards. The Montoy case ended in 2006, when the Court ruled that new legislation substantially met constitutional requirements.

In 2008, however, before the State fully implemented the Montoy remedy, it began making significant reductions in school funding. The Gannon lawsuit was filed in response.

The Gannon plaintiffs – parents, students and school districts – are represented by attorneys and Kansans Alan Rupe and John Robb. Alan and John, who also handled the Montoy v. State lawsuit, are among the nation’s most experienced plaintiffs’ lawyers in school funding cases.

In its initial Gannon decisions, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s rulings that the State’s action’s resulted in inadequate and inequitable funding levels and ordered funding reforms.

The plaintiffs were forced to seek relief from the Supreme Court several times after the Legislature and Governor failed to enact the required reforms. In 2018, the Court ruled that additional funds provided by the State addressed funding equity but did not ensure adequate funding levels.

In its June 14 decision, the Court found the State had finally substantially complied with the constitutional requirement for funding adequacy. The Court noted the plaintiffs’ agreement that a $90 million increase was adequate for 2019-20. The Court also found the State provided good faith estimates for inflation to be phased-in through successive year increases through 2023.

Most important, the Court is retaining jurisdiction over the Gannon lawsuit to ensure the State follows through with the required funding increases. In a ruling similar to the 2009 New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in Abbott v. Burke, the Kansas Supreme Court pointed to Kansas’ long-term resistance to providing adequate funding and noted its inherent power and responsibility to enforce judicial remedies, especially those relating to constitutional rights.

The Gannon litigation represents a powerful example of the critical role courts can play in advocacy efforts to ensure states fairly fund public education. The Gannon rulings have safeguarded the constitutional right to education against repeated efforts by the legislative and executive branches to severely reduce Kansas’ investment in the education of the state’s children.

No doubt, the Gannon plaintiffs and their experienced counsel will continue their vigilance to make certain lawmakers follow through on the latest court mandate to effectuate the education rights of children across the state.

Wendy Lecker is a Senior Attorney at Education Law Center

Education Law Center Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel

Policy and Outreach Director

973-624-1815, x 24