To the editor:
Please tell our state legislators to vote against Kansas House Bill 2119. The bill could be brought for a vote at any time.
The Koch supported political propaganda platforms are lobbying for HB 2119. The bill will provide 45% of public-school students the option to use state tax collections to pay for attending private school. Our local state legislators were backed by Koch political platforms. The Koch political machine is very good at not misspending its money, which means our local legislators will most likely vote for HB 2119 unless enough local voters tell our legislators that they will not vote to reelect them if they do.
This bill is just a step along the political lobbying path to provide this option to any and all students. Since 2015, this option has existed for free lunch students who attend one of the 100 public elementary schools with the lowest test scores (which are mostly in high-poverty school districts). The purported justification was to help the most economically disadvantaged students improve academic achievement. Was the justification proven true by improved student achievement? It doesn’t make any difference because supporters of HB 2119 are not checking to see. By expanding eligibility to reduced lunch students, they are just stepping down the path.
In committee testimony the supporters of this bill were Koch-supported political propaganda platforms, private schools that would get cash from the bill and groups who profess to know best how to educate as long as they don’t have to go into a public school and actually do it. The opponents were the Kansas Association of School Boards, to which our local boards belong, individual school districts and everyone that actually carries the obligation of educating all Kansas students.
Horizon Academy is a private school in Mission that serves students with academic challenges, specializing in serving specific language-based learning disabilities like dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and ADHD. But the annual tuition is $26,950. HB 2119 is not going to provide any Mission parents with even a fraction of what is needed to send their child to Horizon Academy. Private schools can exclude students for academic, disciplinary or religious reasons. Public schools cannot. HB 2119 will likely result in lower cost students with fewer special needs using this option leaving public schools to educate the higher cost students with more disabilities, other health issues, language challenges, and other academic, social and emotional needs.
Largely private schools are religious schools. They can be lower cost because of financial sacrifice by staff and the limitation of only serving students that can be met with the school’s existing resources. Parents make a financial sacrifice to send their kids to private school. But generally, religious schools work because of generous church congregation subsidies. A lot of us happily choose to provide this support. We are following the example of the generations that came before us. In my community this choice has worked for 135 years.
HB 2119 is not needed to provide private school choice. It is largely a diversion of tax dollars from our highest need students. Please call on our legislators to vote no.