The next two weeks will be very busy as bills that have any hope of passage must clear the committee process.
On Friday the Kansas Supreme Court made a ruling on school funding through Gannon v. State. In the landmark decision the court ruled on both educational adequacy (the amount of funding) and equity (school districts must have access to similar tax effort regardless of the wealth of the district) as follows:
1. Adequacy- For the adequacy test the court adopted the standard set in Rose v. Council for Better Education, Inc., a 1989 ruling in Kentucky. The Rose opinion (in an abbreviated form) requires an efficient system of education to have as it’s goal to provide each and every child with at least seven capacities, including sufficient oral and written communication skills, sufficient knowledge of economic, social, and political systems, sufficient understanding of governmental processes, sufficient self-knowledge and knowledge of his or her mental and physical wellness, sufficient grounding in the arts to enable each student to appreciate his or her cultural and historic heritage, sufficient training or preparation for advanced training in either academic or vocational fields, and sufficient levels of academic or vocational skills to enable public school students to compete favorably with their counterparts in surrounding states, in academics or in the job market.
The Kansas Supreme Court did state that funds from all available sources should be considered and emphasized that “total spending is not the touchstone for adequacy”.
2. Equity- As to equity the court articulated the following test: “School districts must have reasonably equal access so substantially similar educational opportunity through similar tax effort”. The court ruling found that the state did not meet this test and required that the inequities be cured by fully funding the capital outlay provisions and supplemental general state aid provisions without probation by July 1st 2014.
There is a lot to be considered with this Supreme Court ruling that will play out over time but it is encouraging that the court has placed the emphasis on student achievement and outcomes over total dollars spent. In the next few weeks the legislature will work to address the issue of equity in school funding.
It is an honor to represent the 77th District. I can be reached at 1-785-296-6989.