Dirty Tricks, Scandal, & Arizona Court Tosses Funding Initiative

Aug 31, 2018 by

Big Day in the Political World!

Orman accuses KNEA of “dirty tricks”

Yesterday we reported to you the results of polling conducted for KNEA by Public Polling that showed the Governor’s race in Kansas to be a dead heat between Democrat Laura Kelly and Republican Kris Kobach with independent candidate Greg Orman polling just enough to make his candidacy a spoiler candidacy.

The Orman campaign has gone on the attack against KNEA calling the report “dirty tricks.” Really? A reputable national polling firm conducts a poll and because you don’t like what it says, it’s “dirty tricks?” No, Mr. Orman, not dirty tricks. Just reporting what the public is saying. 

Orman polls, by the way, are always conducted as “head to head match-ups.” He announced a poll earlier that showed him defeating Kobach in a head to head match. Unfortunately, the race is not a head to head between Orman and Kobach. It’s a five-candidate race. The KNEA poll measured support for all five candidates. So no “dirty tricks.” Just a dose of reality.

Newest Republican Legislator Asked to Resign, Suspend Campaign…by Republicans

Republican Michael Capps was appointed just a few weeks ago to the seat in the Kansas House formerly held by Chuck Weber who resigned to take a job as a lobbyist for the Kansas Catholic Conference. Capps had already filed as a candidate for the seat and local Republicans quickly appointed him to the vacancy (the power of the incumbency?). 

But it seems that Capps- when serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate- was investigated by the Department of Children and Families for child abuse. According to the Hawver Capital Report, “The Department of Children and Families found that Capps had abused the children, but technical filing problems led to a reversal of the finding.”

House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, called on Capps to resign saying, “Holding public office requires public trust. The allegations in this matter are serious ones. I pray for everyone involved and hope this situation is resolved swiftly. In the meantime, for Mr. Capps to serve in the Kansas House would be entirely inappropriate. Public trust matters far more than political gain.”

Republican Party Chair Kelly Arnold also announced that the Party would not support Capps’ campaign and was suspending such efforts immediately.

So far Capps has refused to step down, arguing that he fought the charges and won. 

Earlier in the election, Capps’ candidacy was challenged based on his residence. The house he was claiming as his residence in the district appeared to be deserted and had been foreclosed upon. Such challenges are heard by a panel made up of Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, and Lt. Governor Tracey Mann, all Republican partisans. They ruled in favor of Capps.

Capps is being challenged in the election by Democrat Monica Marks who, as we reported in an earlier post, is a KNEA PAC recommended candidate. 

Click here to read the Wichita Eagle story.

Arizona Court Tosses Ballot Measure to Help Schools

Click for National #RedForEd Day Facebook Page

Arizona Education Association Members Ask that All Educators Stand With Them

The Arizona State Supreme Court has taken the unprecedented step of removing the Invest In ED ballot measure from the November ballot.  Invest In ED would have provided millions of Arizona students with a sustainable revenue source that would provide resources students need to learn.  This measure would have provided crucial education funding that everyone in Arizona agrees is needed.

In order to qualify for the ballot, thousands of educators across the state worked tirelessly all summer to collect 270,000 signatures to qualify the Invest In ED act to be on the ballot. In a purely political move, the Arizona Supreme Court overturned the lower court decision. The Arizona Supreme Court is stacked with anti-public education justice appointees doing the bidding of Governor Doug Ducey who has failed to take action to increase needed education funding in Arizona for years.

In solidarity, AEA is requesting state affiliates and other national labor allies that Tuesday, September 4th be observed as a national #RedForEd day. This day of solidarity is in reaction to the unprecedented decision by the Arizona supreme court robbing Arizonans of the opportunity to vote for critical funding for our classrooms and investing in our educators. NEA and AEA are asking everyone to wear red and post pictures to social media with a simple “We stand in solidarity with Arizona educators” and #RedForEd and #InvestInEd hashtags.

KNEA urges all supporters of public education to stand in solidarity with educators in Arizona because our students and educators deserve better. 

WEAR RED FOR ED on Tuesday, September 4. Show the teachers of Arizona that Kansans stand with them!

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Wagle, Ryckman Launch Diversionary Attack on Deputy Ed Commissioner Dale Dennis

Jan 25, 2018 by

GOP Leaders Demand that Dale Dennis be Suspended

Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) and House Speaker Ron Ryckman (R-Olathe) sent a strongly worded letter to Jim Porter, Chairman of the State Board of Education demanding that the Board put Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis and other KSDE staff members on administrative leave and calling for an investigation into whether or not Dennis violated the state law on school transportation funding.

At issue is the distribution of funds in addition to the regular transportation formula that has been done annually for many years so that children in high-density school districts can safely transport children to school. (Look below for a more detailed explanation of the issue.)

The action of Wagle and Ryckman is making a mountain out of a molehill. The practice has been addressed many times in open legislative committees and never hidden from legislators. Legislators have struggled for years with the transportation formula and this practice was initiated long ago in order to provide safe routes to school.

Further, Wagle and Ryckman are interfering in the operation of the State Department of Education which functions under the State Board of Education. SBOE Chairman Jim Porter made this point clear to the Lawrence Journal-World saying, “It is not the responsibility of the Legislature to staff the Department of Education.”

Anyone involved with education in Kansas knows Dale Dennis as a man of integrity, a man who serves the Department and advises the Legislature on issues of school finance – and has done so for many years. This perhaps is why members of House and Senate are coming to his defense.

Rep. Clay Aurand (R-Belleville), Chairman of the House Education Committee, has issued a statement saying, “I have worked closely with Kansas Dept. of Education, Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis and have found him to be consistently straightforward, diligent, and honest. I have deep respect for him and trust in his work.”

It seems so far that Wagle and Ryckman have little support. So far the only person publicly supporting the Wagle/Ryckman demands is Secretary of State and Gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach.

Take Action!

We urge all our readers to call their representative and Senator and ask if they support the Wagle/Ryckman attack on Dale Dennis. We also urge you to contact your State Board of Education member and urge him/her to support Dale and reject the demands of Wagle and Ryckman.  Tell your elected officials to end their politically-motivated overreach!  The State Board of Education will meet tomorrow afternoon starting at 1:00 to consider their response and action.

KNEA, KASB, USA, KSSA, and AFT Issue Joint Statement in Support of Dale Dennis.

CLICK THE IMAGE TO VIEW THE JOINT STATEMENT OR CLICK HERE

 

The Post Audit and the Transportation Funding Question

According to an analysis of the transportation formula conducted by the Division of Post Audit, the formula is adjusted using a “statistical curve of best fit.”

“…a statistical “curve of best fit” is used to estimate per student transportation costs based on student density. Student density is the number of students who live at least 2.5 miles from a school divided by the square mileage of the district. Each district’s per-student cost (calculated in the previous step) and density are plotted on a graph. Statistical regression techniques are used to determine a “curve of best fit” through the data points. This curve represents the estimated per-student cost of providing transportation services at each density point.” (Performance Audit Report R-17-020, December 2017, p 8)

This has been done outside of the statutory transportation formula. The LPA found that

“Over the past five years, KSDE’s minimum funding level has provided a total of $45 million more in transportation funding than allowed by law. Figure 1-2 shows the effects of KSDE’s minimum funding level for high-density districts in each of the last five years. As the figure shows, districts have received a total of $8.0 million to $11.5 million in additional funding each year for the last five years.” (Performance Audit Report R-17-020, December 2017, p 13)

The Kansas Department of Education provided an explanation of how this came to be.

“The following is a historical explanation for how we arrived at the current line of best fit. Many years ago, at a time the Legislature was discussing the school finance formula, they were making every effort to not discriminate against high-density school districts. KSDE staff was called to the State Capitol and told that the purpose and intent were for KSDE to flatten out the line of best fit so that it would not be disadvantageous to those school districts with high-density per pupil. At that time, legislators were having difficulty defining in writing the line of best fit for high-density school districts. However, they verbally provided KSDE with their definition of line of best fit.

The theory legislators had at that time was to split the line of best fit for high-density school districts by choosing the median expenditure as a minimum funding level. That theory has been in effect for many years. This calculation has been explained and reviewed before numerous legislative committees over the years and met their criteria.” (Performance Audit Report R-17-020, December 2017, Appendix A, p 34)

The Division of Post Audit recommended that the practice be codified as part of the transportation formula. Rep. Melissa Rooker (R-Fairway) has introduced a bill – HB 2445 – that would do just that.

 

 

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