Call it a miscarriage of justice.
A three-judge panel ruled on Dec. 30 that Kansas schools are illegally underfunded.
The Shawnee District Court justices wrote funding for public schools “is inadequate from any rational perspective of the evidence.”
Judges didn’t hang a dollar amount on their ruling, but suggested schools should receive a minimum of $802 more per student in base state aid.
But the Shawnee County District Court panel stopped short of saying exactly what would meet the standard of adequate funding, or approximately $550 million more annually.
Kansas District Court members made a determination they have zero authority to make. Neither the funding of schools nor the formula which funds them is the job of judges.
Kansas school children should learn that the Kansas Legislature holds the purse strings, but we have doubts that lesson is being taught in our public schools.
Otherwise, school officials would not be celebrating the decision last month that sets a ridiculous precedent – that of unelected justices determining state funding issues.
If districts honestly believe they are severely underfunded, they should take it to the people and their representatives. It’s one reason we appreciate the current election asking voters to give our local school board more budget authority.
It’s the people’s responsibility to make that decision and not the court’s. This is a basic principle of the American and Kansas system of governments.
School districts should not be able to sue their patrons for more money. The Gardner-Edgerton School District was a party to the lawsuit.
If unfunded mandates are truly the cause of the funding issues, that should also be taken to the people.
But that’s not truly the problem. Instead, the problem is a broken and tired populace. We want our children well-educated, but we want them educated sensibly and frugally when necessary.
Frugality isn’t in the cards, however, when school districts can continually blame the state when they want more money rather than asking local patrons for funds.
Funding considerations for local school districts should be made locally – not in Topeka. And if that requires a change to the Kansas Constitution, the Kansas Legislature should do it.
Meanwhile, the state’s abusive courts need to be reworked to allow the people a greater say in which justices serve on our highest courts. Currently, the a committee comprised of members of the Kansas Bar Association, or attorneys, select who is eligible for appointment to state courts.
This needs to change to allow our highest elected officials to appoint directly to the court, without input from the bar association, a private club.
Both of these issues, school funding and judicial appointment, will likely be major topics of discussion during the 2015 legislative session.
We only hope our legislators have the courage to make these dramatic, but needed, changes.