The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Monday that the “State has not met the adequacy requirement in Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution under its proposed remediation plan.”
For the curious, the Constitution reads simply, “The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.” The Constitution says nothing about granting the Supreme Court the power to decide what suitable “should” mean. The Court has increasingly assumed that power for itself.
For some years now, the justices have been mimicking the fictional Rod Tidwell of Jerry Maguire fame whose mantra has become part of the lexicon, “Show me the money!” For their part, the legislators have done their best to keep the beast fed.
On this go round, the Court apparently concluded that the state had met one of its two demands, namely providing for an equitable distribution of funds. What the state has allegedly not done is meet the “adequacy” demand. The additional $500 million in taxpayer dollar lawmakers offered the Court over a period of five years the Court judged inadequate.
Likely fearing a taxpayer revolt in an election year, the justices have offered to put the state on something of an installment plan. Said the Court, “But if the State chooses to make timely financial adjustments in response to the problems identified with the plan and its accompanying calculations and then completes that plan, the State can bring the K-12 public education financing system into constitutional compliance.”
The “problems identified” comment refers to the recommendations by “a Texas A&M expert” who recommended the state spend an additional $2 billion above the $500 million to sate the thirst of the educational establishment and its lawyers.
The Sentinel has been documenting problems in the Kansas educational system that defy any kind of financial remedy. Kansas City, Kansas, for instance, has four public high schools in which student performance has been so poor that it is borderline criminal to keep them operating under the existing public school model.
In none of the four KCK schools do as many as seven percent of the students meet state standards in either math or language arts. In one of the schools, F.L. Schlage, not a single student meets state standards in math. If all the tax money Kansas collected next year were dispatched to Schlagle, the numbers would scarcely budge. The model is broken. No amount of money will fix it.
The next governor of Kansas may very well be the candidate who stands up to the Court and confronts this issue.