When the Republicans talk about sound fiscal policy and putting Kansas Families first – it isn’t true. The last interim committee meeting on Special Education Funding included a recommendation to consider removing statutory requirements to fund Special Ed. Any consideration of this backdoor attempt to remove their responsibility for budgeting money for Kansas students, and at a time when we have a record surplus in the state, is cowardly and craven.
Governor Laura Kelly has announced a plan to fully fund special education over the next five years, and that plan deserves our full support from the public and elected officials. This plan would add $72.4 million each year until we reach our requirements.
This doesn’t make the budget responsibility disappear. Local school districts foot the bill when the state abandons its responsibility. All Republican leadership and their cronies are doing here is dumping the responsibility on Kansas Taxpayers at the local level – making local property taxes go up, hurting local schools, and making it even harder for us to convince teachers to stay in classrooms. When those families are shocked at their local tax bill, our Republican state legislators will blame the local government and hope we forget that they gave themselves a pass on doing their jobs.
Special Education is one of the most important aspects of public education, these students and families are where investment pays off in ways that are beyond simple math. SPED funding gives parents freedom and hope for their children. It gives teachers a chance to really reach the students and be effective in the classroom and is a foundational part of meeting the needs of our students.
Stripping away the requirement to fund special education is a cowardly attempt to force students into a “one-size-fits-all” educational plan while ignoring what actually works. Instead, Republicans are putting in their real efforts toward turning public education into a ghost of the great system Kansans could rely on for their children of every ability.
The GOP demands loyalty of its members, not to the real values and people of Kansas. And this blind loyalty to whatever extremist poison the leadership decides to back isn’t just dangerous, it threatens our ability to grow our economy, keep good paying jobs in Kansas, and contributes to brain drain as young professionals seek more reasonable government. Cutting special education funding is a direct attack on our children. Without the funding for special education, your student’s teacher has to redirect their limited time in the classroom to meeting the needs of students who were previously having their needs met by the special education system. Losing special education hurts everyone in and out of the education system.
At the end of the day, the GOP legislators pushing this policy are giving a clear message: They don’t believe that your child deserves an education that meets their needs and they must stop pretending they care about Kansas families. Kansans deserve better.
Lynn Rogers served most recently as Kansas State Treasurer from 2021-2022 after being appointed by Governor Laura Kelly. From 2018 to 2020 Lynn Rogers was Kansas Lt. Governor. Prior to that he was a State Senator and served for over 16 ½ years on the Wichita Board of Education. Send general questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.