The ‘Kansas Revolution’ And School Funding Equity

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that underfunded poor schools are unconstitutional. So now what, in Kansas and across the country?

In this Jan. 23, 2014 file photo Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, left, leans in to listen to Xen Hesse as the two each lunch at Roesland Elementary School in Roeland Park, Kan. On Friday, March 7, 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court said the state's current public school funding levels are unconstitutional. (AP)

In this Jan. 23, 2014 file photo Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, left, leans in to listen to Xen Hesse as the two each lunch at Roesland Elementary School in Roeland Park, Kan. On Friday, March 7, 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court said the state’s current public school funding levels are unconstitutional. (AP)

Everybody talks about Americans lifting themselves up, competing in the 21st century, through education.  But what we spend on the education of children of the affluent versus the middle class and poor is often quite different.  This equity issue has just come to a head in Kansas.  In a time of economic setback and conservative supremacy, Kansas cut back on state spending that had helped balance educational resources.  Last week, the Kansas Supreme Court said no.  Some equity between rich and poor districts matters.  This hour On Point:  the Kansas story, and educational equity in America.

— Tom Ashbrook


Dion Lefler, government and politics reporter for the Wichita Eagle. (@DionKansas)

John Robb, attorney representing the schools districts, parents and students who brought the case against the state of Kansas.

Sen. Jeff King (R), State Senator for Kansas’ 15th District.

Molly Hunter, director of Education Justice and the Education Law Center. (@MollyAHunter)

Eric Hanushek, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Author of “Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School” and “Schoolhouses, Courthouses and Statehouses: Solving the Funding-Achievement Puzzle in America’s Public Schools.”

From Tom’s Reading List

USA Today: States sued over education funding — “Across the country, litigation is pending against 11 states over inadequate or inequitable school funding. That is nothing new: Over the years, all but five states have been the subjects of such lawsuits. The change is that in many of the recent cases, higher state standards lie at the heart of the arguments.”

Kansas City Star: Kansas Supreme Court: Change school aid formula and study whether to spend more — “The high court ruled that cuts in education funding since 2010 led to an unconstitutionally imbalanced playing field between rich and poor schools.Its decision means lawmakers by July 1 must close the gap — estimated by state education officials to be $129 million — or a panel of three district court judges will decide how to do it for them.

The Atlantic: Why Doesn’t the Constitution Guarantee the Right to Education? — “Every country that bests us in the education rankings either has a constitutional guarantee to education, or does not have a constitution but has ensured the right through an independent statute. Each has constructed law around education as a fundamental right of citizens, at least until the age of adulthood. Finland, the world leader, succinctly asserts, ‘Everyone has the right to basic education free of charge.'(Chapter 2, Section 16). South Korea’s Article 31 on Education has six sections. Switzerland’s constitution mentions education more than two dozen times. “

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