Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Kansas Judges Order More School Funding

Judicial supremacy has reared its ugly head in Kansas. A three-judge panel of state court judges ruled that the Kansas legislature must pour more money into public schools. Our Constitution does not give the courts any power of the purse, but many state constitutions do have a provision calling for an “adequate” public school education. In addition, many states (including Kansas) have adopted a set of criteria known as the “Rose standards” that vaguely require giving an opportunity for students to learn basic sub¬jects so they can function in society. In 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court ordered a lower court to apply the Rose standard and spend an additional $1,000 per public school student per year. A three-judge panel in Topeka, Kansas, then declared that “the State’s school funding system, as presently situated, remains constitutionally inadequate,” and demand that the Kansas legislature pump another half-billion dollars into public schools, rather than adopt a system based on local control and support.

By basing its decision on the Kansas Constitution, the Court tried to make it impossible for the Kansas legislature to overturn or ignore it. But top legislators were not impressed. Kansas Republican Senate President Susan Wagle said that the three-judge panel resorted to “a very political and antagonistic posture in this ruling.” The Court decision tried to disparage the economic quandary of a budget deficit by calling it a “self-imposed fiscal dilemma” that would exist “with or without this Opinion.” There will be an appeal of the court’s ruling and the legislature is not likely to pass anything soon to appease the courts.

Underachievement by students is primarily due to the failure of schools to teach children to read and that does not require hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxpayer spending.

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