Discussion on Issue: School Finance in Kansas

These are some facets of the question of school funding in Kansas. Please contribute ideas to shape these up.

1) Policies regarding how to encourage students to participate joyfully and effectively in their education, including limits to prevent "burn-out", would be developed by experienced teachers, parents, and students.

These policies should be as locally determined as possible:

a) The student's parents and teachers would start with initial direction and limits (reasonably safe estimates of grade-level and aptitude, possibly with some "pre-testing" to help determine these more closely).

b) These tests and estimates could easily make use of more centralized standards (regional, state, or national), but the supervision of the student's progress and adjustments to his course of education should be handled as locally as possible.

c) Schools should be able to choose the mix of in-house counsellors and resources vs. outside advisors and standards according to their determination of what makes them more "competitive" - i.e.: what makes parents/guardians want to enroll their children as students there.

d) Parents should be able to decide on the school for their children according to the factors as they weigh them:
- Location of the school
- Quality of teachers, students, and graduates
- Price of the education
- Educational materials and programs used by the school
- Impact on their home life and schedule
- Etc.

e) Parents should be free to "home-school" their children. There are many established home-school programs available today for their consideration. Instead of hindering or denigrating home-schooling, the state should make "suitable provision" that these parents and students are successful, mainly by removing unnecessary obstacles to this success.

2) The "public" support of a school should be voluntary - i.e.: not "public" at all, as commonly used today.

a) If the members of a city or county want to vote upon a city/county tax to support a school, that is up to those voters.

b) Some plausible civic reasons for such a local tax to support a school are

- To improve the work-force in the area for local businesses
- To foster new, healthy, local businesses
- To attract families that are seeking such a place to live and that value a good education for their children

c) If the school does a good job at training future citizens, outside support should not be hard to attract, both as simple, private contributions and as more public sponsorship, e.g.: scholarships and "acceptable" advertising - but please, no national restaurant franchises or soft-drink distributors; I suppose the school's administrators could think that even these last two items might make them more "competitive;" it would be up to the parents of the students to advise the administrators otherwise.

d) It should not even be considered an option to ask a large region of the state to support a specific school with tax money.

e) The state (even one mandated to make "suitable provision" for education) should give the local schools the freedom they need to prove to their customers (the people giving them money) that they are doing a good job and will continue to do so with their continued support. If the state were to provide a mechanism to assist a new school in its initial design and funding, that would certainly seem "suitable," along with plans to pay back any loans, incentives to reach certain goals, etc.

3) The state, by arrogating to itself the role of financial support and administration of schools and the taxation of the public (for the support, the administrative costs, and the tax collecting costs), is indicting the citizens of willful neglect:

a) They are declaring that the parents and business owners would not take the responsibility to provide "suitable" education for their children in order to maintain and further develop their own interests (their own businesses and social interests) and those of their descendants if the state were to leave that responsibility to them.

b) They might want us to believe that there have always been centralized school boards and centralized taxation to distribute money to schools. We don't need to go that far back in the history of Kansas and other nearby states to see what happened:

- People settled the land, did their best to train their children (academically, morally, socially, professionally).
- With enough people, small schoolhouses with dedicated and more thoroughly trained teachers were established independently of other areas with the same basic design and goal: to give elementary and higher education to children, according to the situation and needs of the family of each child (having allowances for harvest season, family illness, etc.), making use of well-regarded texts for the purpose (e.g.: the well known McGuffey Readers), the particular talents of the teachers.
- Generally, the better teachers were willing to adjust their techniques and discipline to the needs of the students and their families.
- The motivation of the local community to support, staff, and administer these school houses was their own future: the children themselves. They knew that their efforts to establish a new niche of civilization in that region would be wasted if their own children were not properly educated.

c) If the taxes that the state collected were less of a burden, many more people would be more able to do what they (mostly) want: to prepare a prosperous future for their children. Responsible parents will be sure to seek effective education of their children: moral, emotional, intellectual, vocational, etc. If one or another mode of education proves inadequate, they will want to take action to improve it or to replace it.

d) The the taxes and fees that the state required of businesses were less of a burden, local businesses would have more money to invest in their employees' needs: an investment in the present and future of the business.
- A good business will sell more products to better educated, industrious, employed (employable) customers. The business will want as many such customers in the surrounding area as possible. Thus, helping their own employees and the local residents better to educate their children is an investment in continued demand for their products.
- A good business will want to have a ready pool of available talent to hire: both short-term (like construction) and long-term (skilled employees). A shortage of local, educated workers means that the few that are educated can demand a higher wage from him. Also, it will be harder to replace those workers who leave. A business owner that wants to have a business for many years will want to have a base of workers in his area. Thus, with more of his own money in his hands (and less in the state's), he will do what he can to foster better education in his area, e.g.: by supporting local schools that he feels are effective.

4) The state judiciary, by arrogating to itself the decision that belongs to the elected representatives in Kansas (since it really belongs to the people who are represented by these officials), has made a mockery of the republican form of government that Kansas claims to have.

a) Instead of elected representatives deciding upon the administration and financing of the schools in the state (presumably according to the wishes of their constituents), an un-elected, practically un-impeachable, and not at all representative body has forced these elected representatives to do something that they did not choose to do, or - more to the point - chose *not* to do, lest their constituents dismiss them.

- If the legislature had thought that their constituents wanted this large increase in funding, they would most likely have voted upon it and made it effective.
- They did not vote it into effect. And now, a body with no authority to make legislation or to levy taxes has usurped this power and imposed its decision upon the entire state.

I feel the Reform Party of Kansas should prepare a formal request for the resignation of the judges that committed this unconstitutional decision, and that this decision be declared Null and Void. We could submit copies of it to Kline and to the Governor.

That would probably get some press coverage.

Feel free to correct, edit, add, or remove what you think necessary (or scrap the whole piece). If I have made mistakes or baseless assertions, please let me know and/or suggest improvements to them.