Our Opinion: Kansas offers an educational tale to be heeded

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Kansas, the land of failed social experiments, is trying to find a way to keep its public schools open. While it is comforting to watch from afar, bad ideas aren't limited to the borders of any one state.

The Kansas Supreme Court last week rejected the third school finance law offered by the state to address inadequate and unfair funding. The Supreme Court and other state and federal courts have long fought a battle against efforts to ban the teaching of evolution in favor of creationism in those schools.

The Kansas debacle began in 2012 and 2013 when Governor Sam Brownback slashed personal income taxes to record levels under the long-discredited "trickle down" theory that this would trigger an economic renaissance. That didn't happen, of course, but funding for poor school districts was decimated. When the state refused to redistribute funds from wealthy districts, the Supreme Court stepped in, and without an acceptable funding plan, the state's public schools will not reopen in the fall.

The refusal of Governor Brownback to acknowledge the extent of his ideological blunder has prompted him to cut funding for higher education to preserve funds for the public schools. Medicaid funding may come next.

Republicans and Democrats are now joined in a revolt against the unpopular governor. "We're getting a bad reputation; that our state doesn't care about public education," Dinah Sykes, a parent-teacher association president and former Brownback supporter, told The New York Times. Kansas' problems are extreme, but anti-education officials and candidates peddling simplistic ideas about economic prosperity are on the loose all over the nation this election year.


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