Dr. Craig Neuenswander and the USD 257 board deserve support and sympathy for the painful and difficult job they have tackled: finding ways to live with the criminally irresponsible cuts the 2009 and 2010 Legislatures have made and continue to make in school funding.
Individual school districts can’t make up for the cowardly, destructive decisions being made in Topeka. When the state took over the responsibility of funding the public schools, it didn’t give the districts the power to take over if the state turned tail and ran.
And that’s exactly what our 125 representatives and 40 senators have done. Faced with the worst recession since the 1930s, the men and women who asked for and were given the responsibility of running the state, decided that it would be better to devastate school budgets and cheat the state’s youngsters for years to come than to raise the money it would take to avoid doing irreparable harm to defenseless kids.
That was their decision last year; it has been their decision this far into the 2010 session.
They have another 10 weeks, give or take, before their failure be-comes final.
Between now and May, Kansans who value education — and who especially value the generation of youngsters who will be in charge of Kansas a few years into the future — should tell Sen. Derek Schmidt and Rep. Bill Otto in voices loud and clear that they would rather have the sales tax rise a penny than to have school spending slashed and school programs scuttled.
Iolans should send copies of those messages to Gov. Mark Parkinson, who made the sales tax proposal but needs to know he has support throughout the state.
IF KANSAS lawmakers don’t believe in the representative system which sent them to Topeka, they can cop out and commission a public opinion poll to give Kansas parents and their neighbors a chance to choose between good schools and a penny tax.
School officials shouldn’t fear the results. If the poll is worded fairly, the people of Kansas will support good schools — will demand excellent schools — just as they always have.
Come out from under your desks, you lily-livered whimperers, and give Kansas taxpayers a chance to show the courage you lack.
— Emerson Lynn, jr.
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