“This is a good bill.”
That’s how Gov. Sam Brownback was quoted describing the school finance bill he signed into law Monday. But you have to ask — good for whom?
Good for students? Not much.
According to the Kansas Association of School Boards, the law will provide about $163 in new funding per full-time equivalent student, “or less than 2 percent per pupil, and … less than the rate of inflation.” After making the largest cut to education funding in state history, Brownback, under court order, now increases funding at less than the rate of inflation. Not good.
Good for at-risk students? Especially not.
Funding for at-risk students will be cut by more than $8 million under the law, according to data in the supplemental note to the Senate’s consideration of the bill.
These are students with the most difficult path to success. Cutting funds that go directly to support them is not the right way to remedy the inequity created by Brownback’s education funding cuts. Not right, and not good.
Good for teachers? No.
The law doesn’t just address the Supreme Court’s order to restore school equity funding. It also allows teachers to be fired without due process. As the Kansas National Education Association has pointed out, as a result, “Teachers’ ability to advocate for the needs of their students without fear of retribution is severely diminished.” Teachers’ first loyalty must be to their students. Anything that undermines that? Not good.
Good for the future of our public schools? It is not.
The law diverts public school funding into private hands by giving a new tax credit to corporations that contribute money to support students in private schools. Schools that don’t have the accountability or obligations of our public schools. Not a good development in a state with a traditional commitment to great education for every child.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Brownback’s school-funding law isn’t much good for students, teachers, or schools. Governor Brownback promised that his “glide path” to zero income taxes would leave school funding unharmed. In Kansas we keep our promises, and Sam Brownback seems to have forgotten that.