In reviewing the most recent Kansas Supreme Court decision, Sen. Steve Fitzgerald came to a conclusion the Court likely did not anticipate. Said Fitzgerald, “Educational choice is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. It is a parental rights issue. Parents should be able to demand and get individualized help for their failing students.”
As Fitzgerald sees it, the Court focused on the fact that subgroups of African-Americans, Hispanics, English Language Learners, and the poor in general are consistently performing below the norm.
By definition, 50 percent of all students will inevitably perform below the norm, but in Kansas 25 percent of Kansas students fail to meet the so-called “Rose Capacities.” These are a series of standards the mastery of which would allow a student “to function in a complex and rapidly changing civilization.”
The Court made clear that money is not necessarily the issue but rather the “adequacy” of the investment given that so many students perform below grade level. The Court also made clear that it is the legislature’s role to set policy and distribute funds. As Fitzgerald interprets the ruling, the Court’s goal is less to establish that schools are well funded than that students are well educated.
“Parents, not the government, know what is best for their child,” said Fitzgerald. “Parents need more choices for their children’s education.” He believes that if Kansas is to meet the challenge posed by the Supreme Court, students should be given every opportunity to succeed either “in their public schools or elsewhere.” (italics added)