Kansas Supreme Court holds its lawless Tea-Publican legislature accountable for inadequately funding public education

31.7% of Arizona’s registered voters voted in the May special election for Prop. 123. Of this disgustingly low voter turnout, Prop. 123 passed by a mere 19, 416 votes, 50.92% to 49.08%.

The vast majority of Arizonans did not even vote, and the few who did were closely divided.

The alternative was to pursue Cave Creek Unified School Distirct et al. v. Ducey in court, in which the Arizona Supreme Court has already ruled that the legislature had violated Prop. 301, a legislatively referred ballot measure for inflation adjustment to school funding. The only question remaining was how much the back-payment portion of the judgment would be, the trial court having already entered judgment on the current fiscal year portion of the judgment.

DorothyThe Plaintiffs in this case demonstrated a lack of faith in the court system by settling.  The clear message was that they believed the system was rigged in favor of our authoritarian Tea-Publican overlords.

There is a state even “redder” than Arizona, the state of Kansas. The school districts in that state have not lost faith in the court system to hold its lawless Tea-Publican legislature accountable for failing to adequately fund public education.

For the second time in two years, the Kansas Supreme Court smacked down the Kansas legislature for its failure to adequately fund public education — despite threats from the Kansas legislature to remove the justices from the bench by impeachment. Kansas Supreme Court gives state until June 30 to properly fund public schools:

The Kansas Supreme Court on Thursday gave the state until June 30 to enact an “equitable” school funding formula or, it said, the state’s public schools won’t open for the 2016-2017 school year.

In its ruling, the court said that if a formula isn’t in place by then, the court will decide that “no constitutionally valid school finance system exists.”

“Without a constitutionally equitable school finance system, the schools in Kansas will be unable to operate beyond June 30,” the Supreme Court said.

“Accordingly, the Legislature’s chosen path during the 2016 session will ultimately determine whether Kansas students will be treated fairly and the schoolhouse doors will be open to them in August for the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year,” the ruling stated.

The ruling affirms a Court of Appeals decision that the state had failed to correct constitutional inequities among school districts in the state’s school funding system. The three-judge appeals panel said the state’s block grant system had shorted poor school districts by $54 million.

The Legislature switched to a block grant system last year to replace a per-pupil funding formula until it could devise a new formula. But the court said block grants left schools underfunded.

Gov. Sam Brownback issued a statement reacting to the ruling: “Kansas has among the best schools in the nation, and an activist Kansas Supreme Court is threatening to shut them down. We will review this decision closely and work with the Legislature to ensure the continued success of our great Kansas schools.”

But Alan Rupe, an attorney for the school districts that challenged the block grant system, including Kansas City, Kan., public schools, was pleased with the decision.

“It’s a win for every kid in Kansas that attends public schools, particularly kids who are disadvantaged and in high poverty areas,” Rupe said.

Cynthia Lane, superintendent of Kansas City, Kan., schools, lauded the ruling.

“Through this decision, the Supreme Court is making clear that the opportunity for a quality education must be available to all Kansas children, regardless of the ZIP code in which they live,” Lane said. “This is good news, not only for students in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, but also for students and communities across the state.”

Lawless Tea-Publican legislators in Kansas turned their invective on the court, once again. The legislature had previously threatened to impeach the Justices from the bench. Kansas Lawmakers Ignore Separation Of Powers, Look To Impeach Supreme Court Justices,

Some lawmakers didn’t appreciate the court’s mandate.

“The courts have now interjected themselves in the business of the people and the business of the Legislature,” said House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican. “They don’t appropriate. We do.”

Merrick was noncommittal on whether the Legislature could comply with the high court decision by June 30. He said he would meet with Senate leadership and Brownback to determine how they would proceed.

“This is really just a temper tantrum by the Supreme Court saying, ‘We’re running the show here. Do what we say or we’re going to shut down the schools and punish the kids,’ ” said Sen. Jeff Melcher, a Leawood Republican. “ ‘And we’re going to blame you for it.’ 

Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, said in a statement: “The Supreme Court’s threat to close our schools is nothing more than a political bullying tactic and is an assault on Kansas families, taxpayers and elected appropriators. The decision today makes a pawn of Kansas schools as the courts attempt to advance their agenda. We will not play their game but will instead do our best to provide a quality education for all Kansas students.”

Rep. Melissa Rooker, a Fairway Republican, said that although it would have been helpful to give the Legislature more time, the court provided lawmakers a road map for conforming to the Kansas Constitution.

“I appreciate that we do have a timeline and an opportunity to make this right,” said Rooker, who had opposed the block grants. “The court is properly inhabiting its role in determining whether the laws passed here in the statehouse meet the constitutional test.”

 * * *

In the case at issue, called Gannon v. Kansas, the Kansas City, Kan., Wichita, Hutchinson and Dodge City school districts claimed the state had not met its constitutional obligation to properly fund public schools.

The Gannon case was split into two issues: whether overall state funding of school districts was adequate and whether funding was equitably distributed to districts.

The ruling Thursday dealt with the equity question.

The Supreme Court in 2014 ordered state lawmakers to fix unequal funding among districts. Last year, Brownback and the Legislature did away with the state’s per-pupil school finance formula and replaced it with block grants for two years until a new formula could be written.

The districts alleged that the state’s block grant system was unconstitutional, and a three-judge court panel agreed. The panel ordered the state to restore the funds under the earlier formula. The state appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

In its ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court said one way, but not the only way, the Legislature could comply “would be to revive the relevant portions of the previous school funding system and fully fund them within the current block grant system.”

In oral arguments before the Supreme Court last November, Rupe argued that the Legislature chose to switch financing formulas and to back away from its promise of full funding. The Legislature couldn’t provide evidence that the schools were equitably financed across the state, he said.

A “safe harbor” in the dispute for legislators was to appropriate full funding, he said, but “the Legislature chose not the safe harbor. They chose the wilds of the ocean.”

The state’s funding plan hits disadvantaged and lower-achieving students hardest, Rupe said.

But Stephen McAllister, Kansas solicitor general, said the three-judge panel overstepped its bounds by telling the Legislature to return to the previous formula. Legislators made it clear they wanted a new financing plan, and they are owed deference in that decision, he said.

McAllister said the Legislature acted in good faith when it switched to the block grant system while it decided on how best to finance schools. And lawmakers believed its appropriation represented full funding, he said.

Justice Dan Biles said he was frustrated by that assertion because it was clear the amount was about $54 million short of full funding.

Oral arguments on the adequacy portion of the Gannon case are expected this spring. The price tag in that decision is much larger, with the court to decide whether the state needs to increase total school funding by more than $500 million.

The citizens of Kansas, as well las the citizens of Arizona, have to come to the realization that Tea-Publicans are radical ideological extremists hellbent on destroying public education. The only way to stop their assault on public education, as well as the independence of the judiciary, is to vote every lawless Tea-Publican out of office in November.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article59751946.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article59751946.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article59751946.html#storylink=cpy

10 responses to “Kansas Supreme Court holds its lawless Tea-Publican legislature accountable for inadequately funding public education

  1. John Huppenthal

    There is still a more fundamental issue – whether money makes a difference in education. This is the most studied issue in education and the overwhelming majority of the studies show no correlation. Another chunk of studies show a small positive correlation and another chunk show a negative correlation.

    Here in education, we have the last four years of experience- 2011 to 2015. While Arizona reduced operational spending by over $400 million per year, we had the highest combined math and reading gains of any state in the nation from 4th grade 2011 to 8th grade 2015. In 2015, our African Americans ranked first in the nation, our Hispanics ranked 11th and our white students ranked 6th in 8th grade math.

    We can directly compare ourselves with the largest spending jurisdiction in the nation. The New York city school system, like Arizona, has 1.1 million students. but they spend over $24 billion a year while we spend about $9 billion.

    Our African Americans outscore their African Americans, our Latinos outscore their Latinos and our white kids outscore their white kids (National Assessment of Educational Progress).

    In education, money is a distraction, not an asset. It perpetuates the things that need to change.

    • For Sure Not Tom

      I have a few questions for you, Falcon9.

      Is there such a thing as too little money for education?

      When did teachers become the enemy?

      What’s wrong with paying teachers well? They have a fairly important role in America.

      Isn’t it true that the real goal is to destroy the teachers union because they give to Dems?

      Isn’t it true that you once did robocalling (something everyone just loves) telling people to send their kids to private charter schools? Aren’t charter schools just a way to force me to give my tax money to Wall Street hedge fund managers?

      Is it possible for you to post without saying “Our African Americans”?

      • john Huppenthal

        I have no enmity towards teachers unions at all. Not even a little bit. Conservatives falsely blame the unions for the failure of public education. In the private sector, Soughwest airlines is completely unionized and yet they are one of the toughest competitors to walk the land. So is UPS and they are also incredibly tough.

        The key to understanding unions is performance pay. Teachers have been victimized by poorly designed performace pay systems for a hundred and sixty-five years. There are literally hundreds of case studies and i have read them all. In 1996, i was invited to be part of a negotiating team at the Mesa school district, teachers unions, princpalsand administrators. When i was done presenting every error ever made and how to do it correctly, the unions agreed to support performance pay just as the unions did at southwest and UPS. Since then the percentage of parents rating their childs school excellent has risen from 44% to 65% while the nation has fallen from 36% to 24%. Because of Mesa’s leadership position these concepts have spread across the state. When Penny Kotterman was president of the AEA, her presentation to the National Education Association was written by me and i later hired her son into the department of education. While i was chair of education in the senate, he had been on mylegislative development team.
        So, no, this has nothing to do with teachers unions, i am still a kid from thepoorest, toughest and most crime ridden neighborhoods of tucson who wants to give every kid a chance to succeed.

        • For Sure Not Tom

          You answered 0 out of 6 questions.

          You have failed this pop quiz.

          Extra credit question – Have you ever in your life had a job in the private sector that you seem to worship?

          Because you don’t seem to have a grasp on how the real world works.

  2. Jkavanagh@azleg.gov

    The issue for the courts was not the amount Kansas spends, which is near the per student national average, but with the way it is distributed via block grants.
    Your headline is misleading because it suggests that total Kansas spending is inadequate.

    • For Sure Not Tom

      John Kavanagh being an expert at misleading people makes me think maybe he’s right.

      Then I remember John Kavanagh is an expert at misleading people, and I begin to wonder if he’s being misleading now, and I start to think he’s wrong.

      In tech we call this an infinite loop. In Arizona, we call it the Tea Party.

      • Jkavanagh@azleg.gov

        Yet another ad hominen attack that dodges the issue my comment raised.

        • For Sure Not Tom

          Maybe. I just have trouble taking the word of the guy who’s stealing my tax dollars to give to his Wall Street cronies via private prisons and schools.

          What you have done is turn my state government into the Sonoran Mafia.

          Go back to Jersey.

    • AZ BlueMeanie

      There are two parts to this lawsuit, as the article makes clear. This ruling dealt with one part of the lawsuit. By the way, the equalization claim is what Arizona supposedly resolved in Roosevelt Elem. School Dist. No. 66 v. Bishop (No. CV-93-0168 1994), but you guys have violated that settlement, and now face another lawsuit. http://blogforarizona.net/update-our-lawless-tea-publican-legislature-faces-another-lawsuit-for-its-failure-to-fund-public-education/

      • Jkavanagh@azleg.gov

        Your post also makes clear that the Kansas Supreme Court ruling only dealt with the equity issue involving block grants and not the adequacy part of the lawsuit. Thus, your post’s title is still misleading because the Kansas Supreme Court never ruled that Kansas’ state funding, which is around the national average, is inadequate.