Kansas debate over public school quality turns to vouchers as potential solution
- After the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the state’s public school funding levels were unconstitutional, Gov. Sam Brownback urged a school choice model to give families a way out of under-performing schools, making vouchers the expected next round of the funding debate.
- The Wichita Eagle reports the Democratic minority in the legislature has already geared up for a fight and Minority Leader Jim Ward said the court ruling demands a focus on funding public schools, not private alternatives.
- The 2016 election brought more moderate Republicans as well as Democrats to power in Kansas, forming a coalition that might reject school choice but won’t have the numbers to override a veto from Brownback.
Kansas is one of several states dealing with a constitutional crisis when it comes to education. Connecticut is also in the middle of a battle over how to ensure students are getting the quality preparation they deserve, based on legal promises, and Washington State is years into deadlock over school funding.
Chicago and Philadelphia are two cities in which grassroots campaigns have targeted school reform efforts that rely on charter school expansion and other school choice models. In Chicago, this work has been led by the teachers union, which mounted fierce opposition to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election bid. And in Philadelphia, a coalition has claimed success for shifting the narrative from austerity to investment in public schools. District officials tend to shy away from political engagement, but now seems like the time to give input in states where massive changes could be underway.
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