Leadership at American Federation of Teachers is celebrating that the average Kansas family will pay about $600 more in taxes next year. The least the teacher’s union advocate writing for the Huffington Post could do is be honest about exactly why.
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, penned a piece for the leftist site, the Huffington Post. (It’s odd that the representative of a union of any kind would contribute to the Huffington Post, a site known to pay many writers with promises of “exposure” and “links.”)
Weingarten regurgitates the mischaracterization that Kansas tax reforms “decimated” Kansas schools. No mention that public schools are spending more money than ever before.
Then, she focuses on higher education.
“In just two years, Brownback cut $63 million from public colleges and universities,” Weingarten bemoans.
What she fails to mention in this running diatribe against efficient government is that K-12 public education takes up an ever-increasing portion of the state’s budget. Today, more than 50 percent of state spending goes to fund K-12 education. It’s a sacred cow that can’t be cut, which means lawmakers have two choices: Either make cuts elsewhere, or force Kansas families to take a pay cut by increasing taxes.
When she gets around to mentioning public education, she trots out only half of the story–that base state aid per pupil dropped from $4,400 to $3,800 between 2011 and today. Base state aid per pupil is only a small part of school funding. When all funding is considered, schools spent $12,656 per pupil in the 2011-2012 school year. And in the 2015-2016 school year, they spent $13,025 per pupil. Quoting only base state aid per pupil is a sleight of hand used by propagandists.
Meanwhile, the opinion piece ignores uncomfortable truths about Kansas school funding. In 79 districts, schools that lost students added staff. In one district, the Kansas City, Kansas, School District, the school added more employees than students.
It’s worth noting that Weingarten is a lifelong Democratic operative, recently arrested in 2013 for protests outside of Philadelphia schools. Her experience in Kansas appears limited to visiting Topeka to tour the Brown v. Topeka Board of Education. Her scribblings for the Huffington Post outrageously suggest that not funding public education to whatever she deems appropriate is somehow akin to keeping brown children out of the school house.
“Topeka is hallowed ground in the effort to ensure every child receives an equal and adequate education,” she writes. “Six decades after that landmark decision, the state bleakly illustrated how radical economic policies could join racial discrimination in depriving children of the public education they need and deserve.”
Someone should talk to Weingarten about a Kansas tax credit scholarship program. The program primarily serves poor and minority children, allowing them to escape schools in which they aren’t getting an education. It’s a program under continued attack from Kansas teacher’s unions, despite it’s success.
Weingarten should be embarrassed for her not-so-subtle column suggesting that increasing school funding–but not enough in her eyes–is somehow racist. Here’s hoping a small sliver of shame pricks her conscience.