Senate Committee on Education Finance continues hearing on SB 44
The Senate Select Committee on Education Finance continued their hearing on Senate Bill 44, Governor Kelly’s school funding bill intended to end the Gannon school finance lawsuit by addressing the last Gannon ruling.
The Supreme Court last ruled that the actions taken by the legislature in 2017 and 2018 had effectively created a constitutional school finance formula but that they were off on adequacy of funding because of the phase-in of funding increases.
After addressing all equity issues in the formula, the legislature had decided to return to the funding level that resolved the earlier Montoy decision and was abandoned due to the Great Recession and the failure of the Brownback tax disaster. So they picked an adjusted dollar amount but then chose to phase that amount in over several years.
The result is that, while the Court thought the approach was right, the legislature would have to account for inflation – the legislature would need to increase funding such that inflation increases were met. SB 44 is based on the Kansas State Board of Education’s calculations and Schools for Fair Funding, the organization representing the lawsuit school districts, told the committee that if this bill passes with no other changes to the formula, they would stipulate that it meets the Gannon ruling.
School districts, KASB, KNEA and parent groups, like Game on for Kansas Schools and the PTA, and many other education advocacy groups, were united in support for the bill. The only opponent was the Kansas Policy Institute, the Koch-funded organization that supports corporate tax giveaways and seeks to block all school funding increases. KPI asserted in testimony that the Court has no right to rule they way they do and that money doesn’t influence student achievement.
Contact members of the Senate and ask them to support Senate Bill 44 without amendment. It’s time to fully fund our schools and get out of court!
You can email any Senator using this format: firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of the Senate Select Committee on Education Finance are Molly Baumgardner, Jim Denning, Anthony Hensley, Bud Estes, Dan Goddard, Dan Kerschen, Carolyn McGinn, Pat Pettey, and Eric Rucker.
House Ed Committee considers mandating more courses
The House Education Committee held a hearing on Tuesday on the first of two bills mandating new course requirements for Kansas high school students. The bill heard on Tuesday was one that seems to appear annually which mandates a financial literacy requirement. Brought to the committee by Rep. Renee Erickson, R-Wichita, the bill would require all Kansas high school students to take and pass a course on financial literacy in their junior or senior year.
While no one disputes the importance of financial literacy, school advocates opposed the mandate. As reported by the Kansas State Department of Education, 92% of Kansas schools offer financial literacy now with 28% putting the course in their graduation requirements.
Opposition to the bill focused on several concerns:
- The mandate would be difficult to implement due to a lack of qualified instructors;
- The mandate would deny students the opportunity to take other elective courses and possibly interfere with the ability to earn an industry certificate in a CTE program; and
- The real problem with financial issues faced by adults has more to do with crippling student debt and the predatory practices of payday and title lenders and credit card companies.
Opponents to the mandate included KASB, the Kansas State Superintendents Association, KNEA, and Game on for Kansas Schools. Supporters were Rep. Erickson and Walt Chappell and the Kansas Realtors Association who indicated that student debt was hampering the ability of young people to buy homes. Sadly, passage of HB 2166 will not do anything about student debt.